Tsonga, Simon Join Shanghai Field
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Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clinched his first berth at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai by winning the BNP Paribas Masters title in Paris on Sunday. In a winner-take-all final that rewarded the victor with the expected final Shanghai slot, Tsonga defeated defending champion David Nalbandian 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to qualify for his first year-end championship.
Tennis Masters Cup begins this Sunday, Nov. 9 and runs through Sunday Nov. 16 in Shanghai, China.
Gilles Simon has been elevated from alternate to a fully-fledged member of the elite eight-man playing field. It was announced Monday that Simon had replaced ATP World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who has withdrawn from the event. (read related story). Simon is No. 9 in the ATP 2008 Race after his breakout season, which included three titles in Casablanca, Indianapolis and Bucharest.
In the doubles event at Tennis Masters Cup, Australian Open champions Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram have withdrawn and will be replaced by Poles Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. Erlich (elbow) has not played since the US Open.
Tsonga, who began Sunday at No. 8 in the ATP 2008 Race, received a further 30 points to leapfrog Juan Martin del Potro – who also will make his Tennis Masters Cup debut - and claim seventh place. Earlier in the tournament American Andy Roddick qualified for the circuit finale for the sixth time in his career.
"I'm going to go there (Shanghai) really to represent France and all my family and my friends," said Tsonga. "That's it. I'm going to represent everyone and I'm going to give my best. I think the Masters will be a very important moment for me. Maybe another great victory could maybe replace this one."
Tsonga began the year by reaching the Australian Open final but missed three months in the middle of the season after undergoing right knee surgery. He returned to the ATP tour at the US Open and soon after won the Bangkok title before also winning his first ATP Masters Series shield in Paris.
Del Potro created history this year when he won his first ATP title in Stuttgart in July and went on to win four consecutive titles (Kitzbuehel, Los Angeles, Washington). Roddick, who has won three titles in 2008 (San Jose, Dubai, Beijing) has qualified for Tennis Masters Cup for six consecutive years (he withdrew in 2005). He has reached the semifinals three times, including in Shanghai last year.
The BNP Paribas Masters also decided the final doubles place at Tennis Masters Cup. That battle also hinged on a head-to-head showdown between the last two contenders: South Africans Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie and Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. The two teams met in the semifinals, with Coetzee and Moodie triumphing to clinch their first appearance at Tennis Masters Cup. The South Africans lost the Paris final to Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett, but moved to sixth in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race.
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