Montpellier SF previews and predictions: Goffin vs. Gasquet, Tsonga vs. Pouille

An all-seeded semifinal lineup in Montpellier on Saturday includes No. 1 David Goffin, No. 2 Lucas Pouille, No. 3 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and No. 5 Richard Gasquet. Goffin is going up against Gasquet, while an all-French affair features Tsonga and Pouille.

(1) David Goffin vs. (5) Richard Gasquet

Goffin and Gasquet will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers on Saturday when they battle for a place in the Open Sud de France title match. Their only previous encounter came this past fall in Tokyo, where Goffin got the job done 7-5, 6-2. The world No. 7 suffered a disappointing loss to Julien Benneteau in round two of the Australian Open, but that should not have any negative impact on his indoor campaign. This was a stretch in which Goffin excelled in 2017 (consecutive runner-up showings in Sofia and Rotterdam), and more of the same appears to be in the cards. The Belgian got two indoor matches under his belt during Davis Cup first-round action (a pair of wins over Hungary) and so far in Montpellier he has taken out Gilles Simon and Karen Khachanov.

Gasquet punched his ticket to the semifinals thanks to victories over Daniil Medvedev, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Damir Dzumhur, surrendering just one set to Herbert in the process. The 33rd-ranked Frenchman is now 7-2 on the season with a third-round finish in Melbourne (fell to eventual champion Roger Federer). Gasquet is also an amazing 23-4 lifetime in Montpellier with three titles (2013, 2015, 2016) and two runner-up performances. The veteran’s prowess at this event and his home-court advantage will neutralize the playing field, but an in-form Goffin’s improved serving and ever-solid strokes off both wings should eventually allow him to break down the Gasquet forehand.

Pick: Goffin in 3

(3) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (2) Lucas Pouille

Tsonga has nowhere near the same kind of history in Montpellier that Gasquet does, but his few appearances have been relatively successful. This is the 19th-ranked Frenchman’s third trip to the semifinals in as many appearances, and it has come at the expense of Nicolas Mahut (following a trio of tiebreakers) and Andrey Rublev (in straight sets). Tsonga did not get broken a single time during second-round action and he dropped serve only once against Rublev on Friday.

Up next for the No. 3 seed on Saturday is a fourth career encounter with Pouille, who trails the head-to-head series 2-1. Tsonga prevailed 6-4, 6-4 on the red clay of Monte-Carlo in 2016, by the exact same scoreline on the indoor hard courts of Marseille last season, and then lost to Pouille 6-1, 6-4 indoors in Vienna this past fall. Ranked two spots ahead of his countryman at 17th in the world, Pouille has advanced this week with straight-set defeats of Carlos Taberner and Benoit Paire. A considerable step up in competition level may see the end of the road for Pouille, who is facing an opponent growing in confidence thanks to a particularly strong result against Rublev.

Pick: Tsonga in 3

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