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Monaco Wins Epic Over Benneteau For Fourth ATP World Tour Title Of Year

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monaco© Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012Juan Monaco has won four ATP World Tour titles this year.

Argentina's Juan Monaco stepped up his bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday with victory in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur final.

Second seed Monaco defeated seventh seed Julien Benneteau of France 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in just over three hours to lift his fourth ATP World Tour title of the year and improve to a 37-15 match record.

Monaco received $153,440 in prize money and earned 250 South African Airways ATP Rankings points with victory in his 16th ATP World Tour final (7-9 overall).

"I celebrated with my team in the locker room and tonight I'll have Malaysian food with my team," said Monaco. "It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments.

"I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs. I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set. He surprised me a little bit with his comeback in the second set. In the final set, I knew I had to be more aggressive and I am happy the way I finished the match." 

The 28-year-old Monaco has also won titles this season at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar (d. Berlocq), the US Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston (d. Isner) and the bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships in Hamburg (d. Haas). He also finished runner-up at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (l. to Tipsarevic).

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Benneteau took a 2-0 lead in the first set, while Monaco squandered four break point opportunities in the second game. Monaco, who got back on level terms at 2-2, opened up a 5-3 lead and had two set point chances but Benneteau bounced back. In a lengthy 12th game, which featured 10 deuce points, Benneteau saved four more set points to frustrate Monaco, who ultimately clinched the set after 81 minutes of play.

Benneteau, determined not to fall to 0-7 in finals at the 199th tournament of his career, fought back in the second set by creating an early service break. Monaco broke back, but Benneteau remained cool on serve, winning 19 of his 29 service points, to level the score-line with a second service break.

In the deciding set, Monaco broke to 15 for a 4-2 lead. Benneteau saved one match point at 2-5, but Monaco was not to be denied his 37th match win of the year. Monaco hit six aces and won 61 per cent of his service points overall.

"I'd like to relax now and enjoy the victory," said Monaco. "It isn't easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow." 

World No. 34 Benneteau had been trying to become the first player aged 30 plus to capture his first ATP World Tour title since Australian Wayne Arthurs (33) won in Scottsdale in March 2005.

"I was very focused on this game, because I wanted to win this final," said Benneteau. "The fans were great; there was a lot of French in the crowd. It was a nice atmosphere and the game was a good level."

The 30-year-old Benneteau earned $80,815 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points. He also finished runner-up to Jarkko Nieminen in the Apia International Sydney final in January. 

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