Tsonga overcomes Schwartzman to claim Antwerp crown

Diego Schwartzman proved unable to halt the momentum of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who made it his best season yet by winning in Belgium.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga   -  Getty Images

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets on Sunday to claim the European Open title in Antwerp. 

The Frenchman, who was seeded second for the ATP 250 event on indoor hard courts in Belgium, broke his opponent four times to win 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 34 minutes.

It is Tsonga's 16th ATP tournament victory and fourth this year after previous successes in Lyon, Marseille and Rotterdam, making 2017 his most productive season in terms of titles. And that purple patch has arrived despite the popular and mercurial talent, now 32, entering the twilight of his career.

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There was more disappointment for Schwartzman on this stage though, after he also lost the inaugural final to Richard Gasquet last year.

The first set remained on serve until fourth seed Schwartzman committed a costly double fault in the sixth game to fall 4-2 behind.

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Tsonga was 0-30 down in the next game and threatening to give the break straight back, but recovered to hold and soon served out the set with a powerful ace down the T.   

The momentum was all with the Frenchman when Schwartzman gave up his serve in the first game of the second set.

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Tsonga finally faltered himself three games later, dragging a wild forehand into the net to give up his first break of the match.

Schwartzman had a sniff of a double break as Tsonga's slump continued, but world number 17 pulled himself together, surviving a brutal backhand winner down the line to come back from 15-40 down and hold with a confident smash from a lob attempt.

The failure to seize on that opportunity proved damaging to the Argentine, who was broken to love in the next game, but Tsonga also lacked a killer instinct, Schwartzman seizing on a weak service game to break straight back. 

Poor shot selection let the 25-year-old down though, as he dragged a weak backhand wide to give up a third break of the set and afford Tsonga the opportunity to serve for the match, which he gratefully accepted.

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