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Monfils Breaks Four-Year Title Drought

Metz, France

Gael Monfils© Getty ImagesGael Monfils won his first ATP World Tour title on home soil

ATP World Tour No. 13 Gael Monfils broke a four-year title drought by clinching the Open de Moselle trophy with a hard-fought 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-2 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber Sunday at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Metz. It was the fifth final on the ATP World Tour this year between the top two seeds.

As winner, Monfils received 250 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and €75,500, while runner-up Kohlschreiber earned 150 Ranking points and €39,700 in prize money.

It is the first title since August 2005 for Monfils, who won his first ATP World Tour title at Sopot (d. Mayer). In his subsequent six ATP World Tour finals, though, the Frenchman had lost out each time, most recently at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco earlier this year, where he finished runner-up to Nicolas Almagro. The 23 year old improved to a 2-6 mark in ATP World Tour finals.

“[I am] very happy about winning this second title; I've been waiting for it for a long time," commented Monfils. "Being in France, this title is even more special to me, as I won it here in front of my family and friends.”

Top seed Monfils was denied on six break point opportunities in the first set but managed to take a one-set lead in the tie-break by a 7-1 score line. The Paris native missed early chances to break serve in the second set and was made to pay the price as Kohlschreiber broke in the sixth game before going on to level the match at one-set-all.

Monfils finally earned a break of serve on his ninth opportunity, creating a 4-2 lead in the final set before breaking once more in the eighth game to seal victory after two hours and 13 minutes. Monfils had also won the pair’s first meeting, in a third-set tie-break at the Bank Austria TennisTrophy last year.

"[I am] very satisfied about my performance," said Monfils. "I think I did really well, especially after the threat I faced with losing the second set. I am happy because I started to feel tired [at the] beginning of the second set but I still managed to pick it up again in the third [set]."

Kohlschreiber said Monfils' serve was the difference in the match. "I think he played his service games excellently today. One of my strengths is the return, but he served too good, too high quality, too high percentage. I think, overall, the whole match he was the better player."

"I was a little bit lucky that I won the second set because he had all those break points," added the German. "But I think I played well in my games, I fought a lot and if you fight and hang in there I won the second set. The beginning of the third [set] was even and then he started to play two, three really good games and the match was unfortunately over."

Monfils is the third French winner at the Open de Moselle in the past seven years, joining Arnaud Clement (2003) and Jerome Haehnel (2004). It was his third final on French soil, having finished runner-up in Metz (l. to Ljubicic) and at the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon (l. to Roddick), both in 2005.

The right-hander broke into the Top 10 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings on 23 February and peaked at No. 9 on 2 March, after reaching the final in Acapulco. His other highlights this season include semi-final finishes at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Nadal, l. to Roddick) and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Nadal) and a quarter-final effort at Roland Garros (d. Roddick, l. to Federer). He has compiled a 28-13 mark on the season.

The 25-year-old Kohlschreiber was contesting his first ATP World Tour final since finishing runner-up to Roger Federer at the Gerry Weber Open in June 2008 and dropped to a 2-2 lifetime mark. His two ATP World Tour titles came at the 2007 BMW Open (d. Youzhny) and the 2008 Heineken Open (d. Ferrero).

Kohlschreiber is currently a career-high No. 23 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings and was coming off a third-round exit at the US Open (l. to Stepanek). He recorded his biggest win of the season at Roland Garros, where he defeated World No. 4 Novak Djokovic in straight sets to reach the fourth round (l. to Robredo).

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