TOKYO: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put an end to Mikhail Youzhny's dramatic run on Sunday to become the first French player to win the men's singles title at the Japan Open tennis tournament.
The world number seven from Le Mans, who knocked out compatriots Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet on his way to the final, chalked up a 6-3, 6-3 win over the Russian.
"I'm very happy to win here. For me, it's good, because maybe I can play in the Masters event, so I'm really happy to win this tournament," said Tsonga, ranked seventh against Youzhny's 49th.
"Today I played perfectly like I did yesterday. That's it. When I play like this, it's tough for my opponent. I'd like to thank Mikhail for this match."
"At the beginning of the week, I was tired, and I won some tough matches, and then I played better and better every day. That's the reason," he added.
Youzhny had the first break opportunity in the third game of the first set, which he missed with a forehand error that went wide.
Tsonga then had a 15-40 chance in the eighth game, and converted when Youzhny made a forehand error to go up 5-3.
After the second set went with serves, Tsonga took a love-40 break chance in the seventh game, winning it two points later when Youzhny landed an easy backhand shot in the net. The Frenchman then took the following two games.
For the 24-year-old Tsonga, who takes home the winner's cheque of 300,000 dollars, it was his fifth career title, three of them won this season, following his victories at Johannesburg and Marseille in February.
Tsonga was the third French player in three weeks to win an ATP singles title, following Monfils' victory in Metz and Gilles Simon's win in Bangkok.
France's Julie Halard-Decugis in 2000, Marion Bartoli in 2006, and Virginie Razzano in 2007 have won the women's singles title here.
It was not a bad week for Youzhny after beating third seed Gilles Simon of France, defending champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, and former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, the 2001 champion.
The 27-year-old Russian received the 126,000-dollar runner-up prize from his second appearance in a final on the tour this season.