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Monfils Fights Past Becker, Dreams Of Return To Top

Auckland, New Zealand

Monfils© Heineken OpenGael Monfils is hoping he can make a fresh start, free from injury, in 2012.

French wild card Gael Monfils was made to work hard for his opening win at the Heineken Open on Tuesday in Auckland, battling past Germany’s Benjamin Becker 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes.

The Frenchman fired 19 aces and saved eight of the nine break points he faced as he recorded his fourth win in four meetings with the 31-year-old Becker. 

"For me the most important thing tomorrow is to be hard physically," said Monfils, who goes onto face Australian qualifier Greg Jones. "I know I can be alright on one match but then the day after I’m tired and it’s very hard for me to be 100 percent, so tomorrow I think that will be the key."

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The 26-year-old Monfils has fallen to No. 99 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after being hampered by a knee injury in 2012, limiting him to just 10 tournaments. 

"I missed a lot of tennis but I’m improving and I need more matches to be on my top form," said Monfils. "It’s a new year, a new challenge. I think if I still believe in myself I’ll be back soon enough at the top. I talk a lot about that with my parents and they tell me it is ok to start again; I want to make it again."

Yen-Hsun Lu rounded out the day’s action, defeating France’s Benoit Paire 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in 84 minutes. The Chinese Taipei player withstood 13 aces to break Paire on five occasions. The No. 60-ranked Lu goes onto face top seed and three-time former champion David Ferrer, against whom he has a 1-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record. 

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Heineken Open, Auckland, Gael Monfils

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