Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) plays a forehand against Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) on day six of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Rexall Centre. Photo by Peter Llewellyn, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
TORONTO - Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued to play giant killer at the Rogers Cup, upsetting Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to storm into the final of the Canadian hard court event.
After knocking off world number Novak Djokovic in the third round and taking out twice champion and eighth seed Andy Murray in the quarters, the muscular Frenchman pushed the seventh seeded Dimitrov on a steaming centre court to reach his second final of the season.
The 13th seeded Tsonga will now awaits the winner of the other semi-final between 17-time grand slam champion and twice Canadian champion Roger Federer and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
"I'm waiting for this moment since a couple of years now," said Tsonga, who has always enjoy success on the Canadian hard courts, reaching the semi-finals in three of four visits but advancing to the finals only once. "It's good because I always believe in myself during all these years and all this week where I lost against those guys and finally I get a little reward.
"It will for sure make me stronger, keep my motivation at the highest level and it's great."
Dimitrov, rated one of the rising young talents on the ATP Tour, had lost all three head-to-head meetings with Tsonga but with three titles under his belt this season stepped onto a sunny centre court as the favourite.
The scrappy Bulgarian traded punches with the Frenchman in a tight opening set but could not convert any of his four break opportunities against an opponent, whose looks are often compared to a young Muhammad Ali
Tsonga, also has a well-earned reputation as a battler on the court, and showed his willingness to fight right from the opening serve, his determination rewarded with the only break of the first set to go up 5-4 then holding serve for a 1-0 lead.
The second set was not as close, Tsonga breaking the Bulgarian in the third game to gain control and then again to clinch the match, raising his fist into the air and shadow boxing his way out to centre court where he acknowledged the crowd.
"It's not an easy loss for me," said Dimitrov. "I thought he played a good match but I think I didn't raise the bar, didn't raise up the level the way I wanted to.
"Still, I have to take the positive side of the week. I don't put my head down for a second here, because it's a good progress for me.
"But I'm still disappointed with the loss. I'm not going to hide that.
"I have to think positive. There is a lot of tournaments coming ahead. U.S. Open is around the corner."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)