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Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur Sunday Preview

Gasquet© AFP/Getty ImagesRichard Gasquet plays Gilles Simon in the Bangkok final.

BANGKOK SUNDAY PREVIEW - GASQUET & SIMON IN SECOND ALL-FRENCH FINAL OF SEASON

• For the first time since the first week of the season there will be an all-French final on the ATP World Tour, as Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon square off for the Thailand Open title (the last one came in Doha in January, when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Gael Monfils in the final).

• No. 2 seed Richard Gasquet has fought hard to reach this week’s final, going the distance in two of his three matches so far - in his second round match he had to come from a set and a break down to beat Grigor Dimitrov, 57 75 64, and in the semi-finals he had to rally from 63 40 down to beat No. 7 seed Jarkko Nieminen, 36 75 62 (Nieminen also served for it at 63 54).

• Gasquet is making his debut at this event and he’s appearing in his 17th ATP World Tour final (6-10 record). He was once 5-4 in finals but in the past five years he has gone 1-6 in finals, the six losses all coming in straight sets and the win being razor thin (he beat Fernando Verdasco in the Nice final in May 2010, 63 57 76(5), losing six straight games after serving for it at 63 54 and coming from 3-0 down in the third to win). That was his last title.

• No. 4 seed Gilles Simon has cruised into the final without losing a set in any of his first three matches, in fact he hasn’t even been pushed beyond 6-4 in any set; in the semi-finals he upset top seed Janko Tipsarevic, 64 64 (his fifth win in six career meetings against the World No. 9). Simon is making his third appearance at this event (9-1 record); champion in 2009 (d. Troicki in final) and semi-finalist last year (l. to Murray). He is  playing in his 13th ATP World Tour final (10-2 record); since losing in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 Madrid at the end of 2008, he has gone 5-0 in finals (four in straight sets).

• Gasquet is a former World No. 7 now at No. 14; Simon is a former World No. 6 now at No. 19. While Simon raises his level in finals and Gasquet struggles, the history between the two favors Gasquet, who leads the ATP World Tour-level head-to-head, 5-0, though none of those meetings came beyond the quarter-finals (and Simon won their only Challenger meeting)

ALL FRENCH FINALS – This is the fifth all-French final since 2000 outside of France, the second this year:
2012 Bangkok  Gilles Simon vs. Richard Gasquet
2012 Doha  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Gael Monfils
2009 Johannesburg Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Jeremy Chardy
2008 Casablanca Gilles Simon d. Julien Benneteau
2007 Newport  Fabrice Santoro d. Nicolas Mahut

WHAT’S AT STAKE –
      Winner:                 €$99,465 and 250 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
      Runner-up:             $52,390 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
 
FINALS HISTORY –
   
   Simon:                  Appearing in his 13th ATP World Tour final……………He is 10-2 in finals (1-0 in 2012)
      Gasquet:               Appearing in his  17th ATP World Tour final…………..He is 6-10 in finals (0-2 in 2012)

ROAD TO THE FINAL

(4) Gilles Simon (FRA #19)
1st Rd: bye
2nd Rd: d. Go Soeda (JPN #52)   64 64 (1:48)
QF: d. Gael Monfils (FRA #45)   64 61 (1:24)
SF: d. (1) Janko Tipsarevic (SRB #9) 64 64 (1:44)

(2) Richard Gasquet (FRA #14)
1st Rd: bye
2nd Rd: d. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL #56)    57 75 64 (2:15)
QF: d. (8) Bernard Tomic (AUS #41)   76(5) 64 (1:29)
SF: d. (7) Jarkko Nieminen (FIN #38)  36 75 62 (1:55)
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS –

Center Court

(4) Gilles Simon (FRA) vs (2) Richard Gasquet (FRA) Gasquet Leads 5-0
06 Nottingham (England) Grass QF Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-1
06 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R64 Richard Gasquet 6-0 6-2 6-3
08 Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass R32 Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 6-7(3)  6-3
09 Sydney (Australia) Hard R16 Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-4
11 Dubai (U.A.E.) Hard QF Richard Gasquet 5-7 6-2 6-4
Other meeting:
10 Sunrise CH (USA) Hard R32 Gilles Simon 6-4 6-4

Simon FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Bucharest (d Fognini); SF(4): Brisbane (l Dolgopolov); Montpellier (l Monfils); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo (l Nadal); Nice (l Almagro); QF: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l Isner)
YTD W-L: 38-20 (16-7 on hard)
YTD Titles: 1/Career Titles: 10
Date of Birth: December 27, 1984
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 19

• Simon, 27, is making his third appearance in Bangkok (9-1 record)…He won the title three years ago (d. Troicki) and reached the semi-finals last year (l. to Murray)…Leads the tournament in second serve points won (74%) and has held serve 37 of 42 games (88%), saving 11 of 16 break points…No. 2 in return games won (11 of 28, 39%)
• The No. 3 Frenchman (behind No. 7 Tsonga, No. 14 Gasquet) is playing in his second ATP World Tour final of the year and 13th in his career (10-2 record)… In late April, won his 10th career title in Bucharest (d. Fognini)…Has won five finals in a row since loss in ’08 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid (l. to Murray)
• Has an 18-42 career mark vs. Top 10 opponents (3-5 this year) and defeated No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic in the semi-finals

Gasquet FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
F(2): Estoril (l Del Potro); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Toronto (l Djokovic); QF(5): Sydney (l Istomin); Montpellier (l Kohlschreiber); Rotterdam (l Davydenko); Marseille (l Del Potro); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (l Ferrer)
YTD W-L: 36-18 (21-11 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 6
Date of Birth: June 18, 1986
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 14
 
• Gasquet, 26, is making his debut here this week and in opening match, defeated Grigor Dimitrov 57 75 64 before knocking off No. 8 seed Bernard Tomic 76(5) 64 in the quarter-finals…In the semi-finals rallied to beat Jarkko Nieminen 36 75 62 (trailed a break in second set)
• Leads the tournament in second serve points won (74%) and has held serve 37 of 42 games (88%), saving 11 of 16 break points
• The No. 2 Frenchman (behind No. 7 Tsonga) is playing in his third ATP World Tour final of the year..He was runner-up in Estoril in May (l. to del Potro) and ATP Masters 1000 Toronto (l. to Djokovic) in August
• He is appearing in his 17th ATP World Tour final (6-10 record)..His last title came in Nice in May 2010 (d. Verdasco)…His previous title in Asia came in Mumbai in 2007 and his previous indoor title came on home soil in Lyon in 2005

DOUBLES FINAL (4) Butorac/Hanley (USA/AUS) vs (WC) Lu/Udomchoke (TPE/THA)
• No. 4 seeds Eric Butorac and Paul Hanley have lost sets in two of their three matches so far, including during a 67(6) 64 108 semi-final upset over No. 1 seeds Paes/Tecau
• Butorac and Hanley are playing their first ATP World Tour doubles final together
• Wild cards Yen-Hsun Lu and Danai Udomchoke have also lost sets in two of their three matches so far, but they haven’t had to face any seeded teams en route to the final
• Lu and Udomchoke are playing their first ATP World Tour doubles final together; in fact Udomchoke is playing his first ATP World Tour final
• Doubles final W-L: Butorac (13-5), Hanley (26-22), Lu (1-2), Udomchoke (0-0)

KUALA LUMPUR SUNDAY PREVIEW - BENNETEAU ONE WIN AWAY FROM 1ST TITLE, MONACO LOOKS FOR 1ST HARD

• Two ATP World Tour veterans have made it to the final of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, but while one goes for his fourth title of the year, one will be seeking the first of his career on Sunday.

• It has been a breakthrough year for Juan Monaco, winning three ATP World Tour clay titles and breaking into the Top 10 for the first time (he spent three weeks at No. 10 during the summer - he is now No. 11). If he wins the title he will return to the Top 10. No. 2 seeded Monaco won his first two matches in straight sets before winning a nail-biter in the semi-finals, rallying from 2-5 down in the third set (saving match point) to edge No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori in two hours and 42 minutes, 62 26 76(4).

• Monaco is making his first appearance at this event and he’s appearing in his 16th career ATP World Tour final (6-9 record) with all but one of his previous finals coming on clay. This is Monaco’s second hard court final (2011 Valencia - l. to Marcel Granollers). Monaco is trying to become the fourth player to win four ATP World Tour titles this year (Roger Federer leads with six titles, David Ferrer is next with five titles, then Rafael Nadal with four titles).

• It wasn’t the best stretch for Julien Benneteau coming in, as he didn’t reach a single quarter-final in 14 straight ATP World Tour events (since making the semi-finals of San Jose in February); but the No. 7-seeded Frenchman hasn’t lost a set all week (8-0) in his Kuala Lumpur debut, and his 64 61 upset of top seed David Ferrer in the semis was his fifth win over a Top 5 player. “It was difficult to beat David because he is a very solid player,” Benneteau said. “I knew I had an opportunity though, as I had beaten him in the past. I am happy I did it. My chances are 50-50 for the final.” Benneteau is in his seventh ATP World Tour final (0-6 record) in 199th career tournament.  He’s trying to become the first 30-over player to capture his maiden ATP World Tour title since Aussie Wayne Arthurs (33) won in Scottsdale in March 2005.

• Monaco and Benneteau are playing each other for the first time.

WHAT’S AT STAKE –
     
Winner:                 €$153,440 and 250 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
      Runner-up:              $80,815 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
 
FINALS HISTORY –
     
Benneteau:             Appearing in his 7th ATP World Tour final……………He is 0-6 in finals (0-1 in 2012)
      Monaco:                  Appearing in his 16h ATP World Tour final…………..He is 6-9 in finals (3-1 in 2012)

Players Trying to Win First Title (1-12) – Benneteau is trying to become the second straight first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season. Last week in St. Petersburg Martin Klizan defeated Fabio Fognini (both players were trying to win their first title). Here is a look at the players trying to win their first title in 2012:
Player (opponent)  Tournament
* Julien Benneteau (l. to Jarkko Nieminen)  Sydney
* Carlos Berlocq (l. to Juan Monaco)  Vina del Mar
* Lukas Lacko (l. to Mikhail Youzhny)  Zagreb
* Denis Istomin (l. to Milos Raonic)  San Jose
* Marinko Matosevic (l. to Kevin Anderson) Delray Beach
* Albert Ramos (l. to Pablo Andujar)  Casablanca
* Fabio Fognini (l. to Gilles Simon)  Bucharest
* Benoit Paire (l. to Andreas Seppi)  Belgrade
* Brian Baker (l. to Nicolas Almagro)    Nice
* Gilles Muller (l. to Andy Roddick)                          Atlanta
* Ricardas Berankis (l. to Sam Querrey)                 Los Angeles
* Martin Klizan (d. Fabio Fognini)  St. Petersburg

ROAD TO THE FINAL
(2) Juan Monaco (ARG #11)
1st Rd: bye
2nd Rd: d. (WC) Jimmy Wang (TPE #151)  64 75 (1:48)
QF: d. Vasek Pospisil (CAN #122)  63 64 (1:24)
SF: d. (3) Kei Nishikori (JPN #17)  62 26 76(4) (2:42)

(7) Julien Benneteau (FRA #34)
1st Rd: d. Carlos Berlocq (ARG #49)   76(2) 63 (1:30)
2nd Rd: d. Matthew Ebden (AUS #64)   75 62 (1:14)
QF: d. Alejandro Falla (COL #61)   62 62 (:58)
SF: d. (1) David Ferrer (ESP #5)   64 61 (1:37)

SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS –

Center Court

(7) Julien Benneteau (FRA) vs (2) Juan Monaco (ARG) First Meeting

Benneteau FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
F: Sydney (l Nieminen); SF: San Jose (l Istomin)
YTD W-L: 25-19 (8-3 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: December 20, 1981
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 34

• Benneteau, 30, who is making his debut here this week, has not dropped a set in his first four wins, holding serve 32 of 37 games (86%), saving 12 of 17 break pts…Leads tournament in return games won (46%, 17 of 37),  pts. won returning first serve (39%) and No. 2 in second serve return pts (64%)
• This is the Frenchman’s second ATP World Tour final of the season and in opening month, advanced to his sixth career final (0-6) in Sydney (l. to Nieminen)…This is his 199th career ATP World Tour level tournament and has played in most finals without a title among active players
• He’s trying to become the first 30-over player to capture his maiden ATP World Tour title since Aussie Wayne Arthurs (33) won in Scottsdale in March 2005
• Trying to become the second first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year…Last week in St. Petersburg, Martin Klizan defeated Fabio Fognini for his maiden title
• Came in No. 34 and will move one spot so far and to around No. 29 if he wins the title
• Frenchmen are 3-7 in ATP World Tour finals this season with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga winning twice and Gilles Simon once…Simon and Richard Gasquet are playing in the Bangkok final on Sunday
• Has a 10-33 career mark vs. Top 10 opponents and posted his first win this year (1-7) over No. 5 David Ferrer 64 61 on Saturday…His previous Top 10 win came over another Spaniard, No. 10 Nicolas Almagro in first round of last year’s US Open

Benneteau Finals – Here is a look at Benneteau’s six previous ATP World Tour final appearances:

2008 Casablanca lost to Gilles Simon    75 62
2008 Lyon  lost to Robin Soderling  63 67 61
2009 Kitzbuehel  lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 36 76 63
2010 Marseille  lost to Micahel Llodra  63 64
2011 Winston-Salem lost to John Isner  46 63 64
2012 Sydney  lost to Jarkko Nieminen  62 75

Monaco FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W(3): Vina del Mar (d Berlocq); Houston (d Isner); Hamburg (d Haas); F: Stuttgart (l Tipsarevic); SF: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l Djokovic)
YTD W-L: 36-15 (9-6 on hard)
YTD Titles: 3
Career Titles: 6
Date of Birth: March 29, 1984
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 11
 
• Monaco, 28, who is appearing in Kuala Lumpur for the first time, rallied from a 2-5 third set deficit and saved one match point in his 62 26 76(4) win in two hours, 42 minutes (longest match of tournament) over Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals to reach his career-high fifth ATP World Tour final of the season
• The No. 2 Argentine (behind No. 8 del Potro) is 3-1 in finals, earning clay titles in Vina del Mar (d. Berlocq) in February, Houston (d. Isner) in April and Hamburg (d. Haas) in July…Also runner-up in Stuttgart (l. to Tipsarevic)
• Has won 27 of 34 service games (79%) and won 12 of 35 return games (34%) this week
• Has a 6-9 career mark in ATP World Tour finals with all but one coming on clay…Last November reached his first final on hard courts in Valencia (l. to Granollers)…Has a 27-28 career indoor record and 175-96 on clay, his favorite surface
• Broke the Top 10 for the first time on July 23 after Hamburg and spent three weeks at No. 10…Came in this week ranked No. 11…Will return to Top 10 if he wins the title
• Has a 36-15 match record on the season (9-6 on hard, 24-7 on clay)

2012 TITLE LEADERS – Monaco is trying to become the fourth player on the ATP World Tour to win four titles this season. Here are the 2012 title leaders:

        No.
Roger Federer  6 
David Ferrer  5 
Rafael Nadal 4   
Novak Djokovic 3
Juan Monaco 3
Andy Murray  3

DOUBLES FINAL - (3) Peya/Soares (AUT/BRA) vs. Fleming/Hutchins (GBR/GBR)
• No. 3 seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares haven’t lost a set en route to the final and their path included a 76(6) 61 semi-final win over No. 2 seeds Bracciali/Melo
• Peya and Soares are in their second ATP World Tour doubles final together (they were runners-up at Bastad this past summer - l. to Lindstedt/Tecau in final)
• Unseeded Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins have taken out both seeded teams on their half of the draw, namely No. 4 seeds Knowle/Polasek and No. 1 seeds Fyrstenberg/Matkowski
• Fleming and Hutchins are in their fifth ATP World Tour doubles final together (they’re 3-1 in their first four - the titles came at St. Petersburg in 2011 and Delray Beach and Eastbourne in 2012)
• Doubles final W-L: Peya (2-8), Soares (6-9), Fleming (5-3), Hutchins (5-7)

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