By Jake Davies
- The Erste Bank Open final takes place in Vienna on Sunday
- Andy Murray  vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – After a walkover when David Ferrer withdrew shortly before the semi-final, Andy Murray advances to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and to further his bid to close the gap on Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray  vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  H2H: Murray leads 13-2
On Sunday afternoon in Vienna, Murray will go toe-to-toe with Tsonga. It is a mouthwatering final where we will witness whether Tsonga’s unquestionable power will be enough to unlock the Murray defence or whether the Brit can find a way to win a 15th match in succession at this level. The last time Murray tasted defeat was at the Davis Cup semi-final against Argentina almost two months ago.
Tsonga’s powerful, no-nonsense game has guided him to a Grand Slam final in the 2008 Australian Open and has played a part in his great, memorable wins over the likes of Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the past. One of the most notable performances of Tsonga was at the 2014 Rogers Cup, where he won the title beating those three players in the same tournament, which further illustrates he can still cause problems for the very best in the world.
The biggest flaw in Tsonga’s game over the years is the lack of reliability of the backhand side. Murray will try to exploit that weakness with regularity en route to winning a seventh title of 2016. One thing that Murray will have to be wary of is being too predictable in that regard. He should attack the Tsonga backhand but ensure that Tsonga does not camp out on his backhand wing. If Tsonga does, then it will give him time to run around his backhand and strike from his favoured wing – the fearsome forehand.
When Tsonga gets his forehand into play it becomes a very different match up, and Murray will acknowledge this.
Murray is in the much better form and boasts a brilliant head-to-head record against the Frenchman. He has only lost two matches to Tsonga at this level and should be confident that he can get past the last obstacle en route to the Vienna title.
The most interesting development is that both players are playing for a lot. Murray wants to snare the World No.1 ranking and will need a victory tomorrow in order to stand a chance of achieving that feat, while Tsonga has an outside shot at qualifying for the World Tour Finals. The Frenchman would need a title win and a very good performance in the Paris Masters next week in order to qualify for the prestigious event.
I think the difference in the two players tomorrow will be Murray’s ability to shift to different strategies on the court. Tsonga has a tendency of being one-dimensional and when his main game plan does not work, he can fall apart. Murray should stave off any resistance by bullying the Tsonga backhand into submission and will come through in straight sets.
Prediction: Murray in two sets.
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