Pouille Fights Back For Final Four Spot In Monte-Carlo
Frenchman defeats Cuevas on Friday
Lucas Pouille came within two points of losing against Uruguayan No. 16 seed Pablo Cuevas on Friday, but fought back from a 3-5 deficit in the deciding set to win the quarter-final 6-0, 3-6, 7-5 in one hour and 58 minutes. The No. 11 seed kept hopes alive of a first French titlist at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters since Cedric Pioline hoisted the trophy in 2000 (d. Dominik Hrbaty).
"I believed I could win until the end. Even when I was down, I believed I still could turn it around. That made the difference,” said Pouille. “I felt the tension, but he felt the tension too. I was very happy I remained solid.”
Pouille, who reached his third ATP World Tour final at the Open 13 Marseille (l. Tsonga) in February, will now take on Spanish No. 15 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas as they both attempt to reach their first title match at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. Ramos-Vinolas beat fifth seed Marin Cilic earlier in the day. Read Report
"If I say I'm not thinking about [reaching the final] at all, I would be lying. It is human. The draw has become completely open with the seeded players having lost. It's an opportunity for me, but also for him,” said Pouille. “Ramos has played well and beaten very good players to reach this stage. It's going to be a very tough match.”
Pouille did very little wrong in the 23-minute first set after recovering from 15/40 in his first service game. Cuevas received warm applause when he held for the first time at the start of the second set and he went on to take a 4-0 lead. The pair’s first encounter then sparked into life.
Pouille led 2-0 in the decider, but Cuevas won five of the next six games and, on serve at 5-4, led 30/0 before nerves and two backhand errors let Pouille back in. At 5-5, Pouille let a 30/0 lead slip and was forced to save break point with a forehand winner. Then, roused by the predominantly French crowd, he clinched his 13th match win of 2017 when Cuevas dropped his serve to 30 with a backhand long.
Cuevas, who captured his third straight Brasil Open title in Sao Paulo (d. Ramos-Vinolas) last month, dropped to an 11-7 record on the season. Pouille will now attempt to emulate Gael Monfils, who reached the 2016 Monte-Carlo final (l. Nadal), when he challenge Ramos-Vinolas for the second time on Saturday. Pouille beat Ramos-Vinolas in their only FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at Auckland in January 2015.