METZ, France, Sept 22 Gilles Simon defeated defending champion and compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-3 in the Metz Open final on Sunday to become the joint second most successful Frenchman of the open era with an 11th ATP Tour title.
The 16th-ranked Simon has joined former world number four Guy Forget on the list. Former French Open champion Yannick Noah is the only Frenchman to have won more with 23 tournament wins since professionals were allowed to compete in 1968.
"Yannick is still way ahead but I'm really happy joining Guy," Simon told a news conference.
"What makes me really proud is to have won a trophy for the seventh consecutive year," added the 28-year-old, who also won in Metz in 2010 and now has a 11-4 win-loss record in finals.
World number eight Tsonga, the twice defending champion in Metz, was making his comeback after three months out with a knee injury and seemed to lack sharpness against second seed Simon.
"I would have liked to play better tennis but I could not. I don't have any regrets. I'm in form and my knee is fine," Tsonga said.
Simon, who entered the tournament having not won a match since June and missed the U.S. Open because of illness, took a decisive edge in the hard-fought first set by breaking Tsonga's serve for the second time in the ninth game.
He easily clinched the second by taking advantage of his exhausted opponent's numerous unforced errors.
(Reporting by Eric Salliot; Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by John Mehaffey)