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Berdych, Monfils To Square Off In Montpellier Title Match

Montpellier, France

Monfils© AFP/Getty ImagesGael Monfils defeated Gilles Simon for the first time in three meetings Saturday.

Third seed Gael Monfils advanced to the Open Sud de France final in Montpellier Saturday, saving a match point before topping World No. 12 Gilles Simon 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

After winning the first set, the second-seeded Simon had several chances to take control of the match in the second set, seeing eight break point opportunities. He was unable to convert any of his chances, including a match point in the 12th game. Monfils held serve to force a tie-break, which he closed out to send the match to a third set.

Monfils let a break advantage slip twice in the final set, holding leads of 3-0 and 4-2, with Simon breaking back twice to get on serve. But after Monfils held for 5-4, Simon fell into a 15/40 hole, and Monfils clinched the clash on his second match point to win in two hours and 26 minutes, notching his first victory in three meetings against his countryman.

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The 2010 Montpellier champion is bidding to win his fifth title, with his latest triumph coming at the If Stockholm Open last October (d, Nieminen). In Sunday’s final, Monfils will square off against top seed Tomas Berdych. The Czech defeated No. 7 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 23 minutes.

World No. 7 Berdych won 34 of 34 points on his first serve, and saved all five break points he faced to beat the German for the seventh time in eight meetings. "I felt a good rhythm on my serve from the beginning, and that was probably the key. Then, I was able to make those important breaks [of serve] and finish it in two sets," said Berdych. "My serve is one of the key aspects of my game. If my serve is working well, I start to feel more confident on court. I can be more aggressive on the return and put pressure on the opponent."

Berdych, making his debut at the ATP World Tour 250 event, is aiming to lift his seventh trophy. The 26 year old holds a 6-6 final record, winning his latest championship appearance at the China Open in 2011 (d. Cilic).

The No. 1 seed defeated Monfils in their lone FedEx ATP Head 2 Head meeting four years ago in Dubai in a first-round encounter. "I think it's going to be a nice final," Berdych said. "I feel there is work to be done and there is one more step to go. I'll try my best to finish the week off great."

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