OPEN SUD DE FRANCE
Monfils Captures Third Career Title
by ATP Staff|
Third seed Gael Monfils provided Montpellier with a French champion in its inaugural edition after defeating fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 Sunday to win his third career ATP World Tour title at the Open Sud de France.
The Paris native was contesting his 12th ATP World Tour final and improved to a 3-9 record after winning his first title since Metz in September 2009. He earned 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €103,900 in prize money.
"I am so happy about this title, and it’s even more special because it is in France and in front of my crowd," said Monfils. "Today I was again very solid I think in my game, but also emotionally. I am extremely happy about the title, about my concentration throughout the week and about the level of my game. I feel I have been working on many things on and off the court and the results are now showing.
“It was a fantastic event, I really enjoyed coming to Montpellier, I felt really comfortable over here from the first day. I really hope to be able to come back next year.”
World No. 15 Monfils saved three break points and broke serve twice himself in the fourth and eighth games as he raced to a one-set lead against Ljubicic, whom he had beaten only twice in six previous meetings.
The Frenchman looked to have assumed a commanding lead in the match when he then broke serve to lead 3-1 in the second set; however Ljubicic hit back with two breaks of serve to level the encounter. Undeterred, though, Monfils reeled off five straight games at the beginning of the third set before wrapping up victory in one hour and 52 minutes.
"Today I didn’t make as many points with my serve unfortunately, which I also expected because he is a fantastic returner," reflected Ljubicic. "I think the first set was the key to the match because I had break points in almost every game and I couldn’t convert them. He started well in the second [set], but I managed somehow to come back and win the set from a break down.”
The 24-year-old Monfils improved to a 39-17 match record on the season after becoming the fourth different French player to win an ATP World Tour title this year, joining Michael Llodra, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon. He was competing in his third ATP World Tour final of the season, after runner-up efforts in Stuttgart (l. to Montanes) and Tokyo (l. to Nadal).
World No. 17 Ljubicic dropped to a 10-13 record in ATP World Tour finals, including 3-3 in France. The 31 year old was hoping to cap his best stretch of the season by winning his second ATP World Tour title of the year, having beaten Andy Roddick to win the Indian Wells trophy in March. In the past four weeks, he has reached three ATP World Tour semi-finals.
“I played a lot these past weeks, I played many matches," said Ljubicic. "I think the match against Nieminen (in the quarter-finals) took a lot out of me this week. I would have had maybe more energy today if I had won in straight sets. But I can’t be sad, it was a fantastic week for me over here.”