Tsonga finds his stride after layoff to conquer Lopez

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat an error-prone Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 6-3 yesterday in the opening round of the Shanghai Masters for his first win since returning from a three-month injury layoff.

Both players held serve throughout the first set before Tsonga took control of the tie-break with two aces and a backhand passing shot. He clinched the set with a forehand winner that skidded off the line.

The 12th-seeded Tsonga earned the only break of the match to go up 2-0 in the second set and sealed the win when Lopez hit a backhand wide. Tsonga lost in the first round of the Tokyo Open last week, his first tournament since injuring his knee in a quarter-final loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

"When you don't play for two or three months, you lose your tennis," Tsonga said. "When you come back, you start [from] zero. So it was really important to win my first match and today I did it."

Ninth-seeded Fernando Verdasco was eliminated after wasting two set points to fall 7-6, 7-5 against Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands.

Jurgen Melzer, the 13th seed, overcame a tough challenge to beat 279th-ranked wild card Yang Tsung-hua of Taiwan 6-4, 7-6. Yang had seven aces to Melzer's three, but the Austrian broke the 19-year-old three times.