The Argentinian made a breakthrough instantly as he was able to break Tsonga's first service game. The world number six soon recovered as he broke twice before serving out the first set 6-3.
Despite the 68 places between them in the world rankings, there was very little between the two players at the start of the second, but Tsonga managed to find an elusive break of serve in the seventh game.
Nalbandian broke back instantly as both men struggled to get a hold on proceedings, but Tsonga struck back straight after to give himself the opportunity of serving out the match.
However, Nalbandian was able to dig his heels in where it mattered and broke the out-of-sorts Frenchman again before taking the next two games to level the match.
Nalbandian edged in front in the decisive set by blasting a forehand across court to break serve in the fourth game. He then held his nerve to serve out the match 6-3.