Vienna: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga improved to seventh in the race for the ATP year-end championships with a battling 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Juan Martin Del Potro to win the Austrian Open on Sunday.
The first Frenchman to claim the title started the week knowing that he could only add to his season points total for the World Tour Finals by reaching the title match.
Despite losing the first set in three of his four matches at the Stadthalle, that's exactly what the ninth-ranked Tsonga accomplished as he capped his effort in a two-and-a-half hours win over 2009 US Open champion Del Potro.
"It's special to win my seventh title here," said Tsonga.
"I knew I could only gain points for London if I got to the final. I did it in the end and I'm glad. I'm extremely happy.
"I was tight at the start and down after losing the tiebreaker. But I stayed tough and didn't give away any easy points."
Tsonga and his Argentine opponent now move on to Valencia for next week's ATP event with both still fighting for places in the year-ender from November 20.
Del Potro will climb to 11th in the points chase as well as stand 11th in the rankings as he returns this season after missing eight months of 2010 with wrist surgery.
Tsonga trailed a set and a break before making his recovery move.
"It was really tough," said the winner of a second title in 2011 after claiming Metz honours in September.
"Juan Martin played great until in the second set. I was down a bit after losing (another) first set in the tiebreaker.
"But I fought on and didn't give away any easy points after that."
Tsonga fired his 25th ace to notch a 5-3 lead in the third set and finished two games later with the match-winner.
The loss was a blow for Del Potro, who was looking for a third title this season after Delray and Estoril. The Argentine remains without an indoor title after playing his second final under a roof.
"I had my chances but I didn't take them," said Del Potro. "He played better in the important moments. Jo played much better than me. After that re-break (at 2-1 in the second set) he played more aggressive, served unbelievable.
"It was really a different match after that moment."
Former Austrian great Thomas Muster, who lost in the first round to end his year-and-a-half comeback at age 44, was honoured with a surprise guest in the form of 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.
"It was special that Thomas and Goran were there. Goran was one of my favourite players," said Tsonga.
Del Potro's mind is preoccupied with the December Davis Cup final in Seville against Spain.