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Simon hails Tsonga

sports Updated: Jan 25, 2009 13:24 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

Gilles Simon reached the fourth round of a grand slam tournament for the first time on Saturday and then paid tribute to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for instilling genuine belief in France's new generation of stars.

In a great day for the tricolours at the Australian Open, No 6 seed Simon set up an all-French clash with Gael Monfils by downing big-serving Croatian Mario Ancic 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2.

The 12th-seeded Monfils - who is also enjoying his best campaign at Melbourne Park - was largely untroubled in downing Spain's Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

And No.5 seed Tsonga - who advanced all the way to last year's final as an unseeded bolter - was too good for Israeli Dudi Sela, winning 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1.

The fourth member of the much-hyped generation of gifted Frenchmen aged in their early -- to mid-20s, No.24 seed Richard Gasquet, lost to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in the third round.

Simon, Monfils and Tsonga are all among the top 12 seeds at the Open this year after making huge improvements in their rankings in 2008.

"It was really good for all of us because we are all practising together and I know it's the same for Gael and for Richard," said Simon.

"We know that we are all very good players, but there is not one better than the others. And to see Jo reach the final was really good for us and for our confidence.

"Finally we saw that we were able to do it and that's why I think we had a great year last year."