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PARIS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - World number eight Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saved five match points in a breathtaking third set tiebreak to edge out Australian Bernard Tomic on Friday and qualify for the Marseille Open semi-finals.
The third-seeded Frenchman, who lost the first set, eventually grabbed the tie-break 12-10 to seal a 4-6 6-3 7-6 victory after two hours five minutes.
Tsonga, who had won his only previous encounter with the 46th-ranked Tomic, made the most of his opportunities to beat the 21-year-old Australian, one of the most exciting youngsters in tennis.
“I found the way to stay in this match and it’s not just a miracle. He will tell you that I played well on these points,” Tsonga told reporters.
“In moments like these, you need to be brave to overcome your fear and I, personally, have to play more aggressive.”
Tsonga will face Gilles Simon in the semi-final after his compatriot upset title holder Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-3.
Simon did not drop his serve once and was in total control while the former U.S. Open winner tried some ineffective sliced backhands.
After grabbing the first set in 36 minutes, the 14th-ranked Simon quickly led 4-1 in the second and managed to resist the second seed’s late surge.
Top seed Tomas Berdych had to work harder to move past seventh-seeded Jerzy Janowicz, who made a name for himself when he reached the Paris Masters final in November after entering the main draw from the qualifiers.
Berdych will meet 119th-ranked Russian Dmitry Tursunov, a former top 20 player, who defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6 1-6 7-5.
Reporting by Eric Salliot; Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by John Mehaffey