Monday, 25 July 2016
France’s Gael Monfils saved a match point and battled back with sharp returns in sweltering heat to defeat Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in Washington Open final.
The 29-year-old Frenchman on Sunday took his sixth ATP title, his first since 2014 at Montpellier, first outside of Europe and first outdoor trophy since Sopot in 2005 as well as claiming the top prize of $348,200 (317,266 euro) on the US capital hardcourts.
“I’m very happy,” Monfils said. “It has been a good year so far. It’s a good step but hopefully I will have bigger.”
Monfils withstood a barrage of 27 aces from the 37-year-old Croatian, firing back 16 of his own. He ended Karlovic’s streak of 70 unbroken service games when the Croatian served for the match in the 10th game of the second set.
“If it was a normal match I would have won it right there,” Karlovic said. “At that moment, I just didn’t have it. I’m not used to that. Usually I’m able to just win it. Today I didn’t. I’m disappointed a lot.”
Flamboyant Monfils denied Karlovic on a match point in the second-set tiebreaker as well, broke him again in the third game of the final set and held from there to win in two hours and 13 minutes.
“Today was pure luck,” Monfils said. “It was a few opportunities, a few shots, and I managed to make it. It was just a few shots. It wasn’t like a regular win.”
Monfils became the third French player to win the Washington crown after Yannick Noah in 1985 and Arnaud Clement in 2006 and noted how Noah and 1973 winner Arthur Ashe were special inspirations to him.
“To have my name with them, it means a lot to me,” Monfils said.
Monfils improved to 6-19 in ATP finals, including a 2011 Washington final loss to Radek Stepanek. Monfils had dropped his prior three finals in a row, including in February at Rotterdam and April at Monte Carlo, and eight of his past nine finals since 2011.
Karlovic, who fell to 7-9 in ATP finals, won his seventh career title last week on Newport grass to become the oldest tour singles champion since 1979. But a ninth match in two weeks proved too much for him.
“I was better in the first two sets and after that I was dead,” Karlovic said. “It was really hot out there. I just didn’t have any energy left but I was trying to push myself.”
– Wickmayer takes two crowns –
Belgian seventh seed Yanina Wickmayer, a 2009 US Open semi-finalist, defeated 122nd-ranked American Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-2, to capture her fifth WTA title and her first since last year in Tokyo.
“This has just been an amazing week for me,” said Wickmayer, who also won the women’s doubles crown alongside Romania’s Monica Niculescu. “Conditions were really hot out there. It was tough.”
Monfils, who will jump from 17th to 14th in the world rankings, squandered three break points in the 12th game and dropped the first set on a Karlovic overhead smash.
Karlovic, who will jump into the top 30 in the rankings, broke to lead 5-4 in the second set but again handed Monfils triple break point only to save them all. Monfils hit a forehand volley winner and Karlovic sent a forehand long to surrender a break.
“It’s tough to serve and volley for two hours in the heat,” Monfils said.
In the tie-breaker, Karlovic had match point at 6-5 but Monfils answered with two service winners of his own and Karlovic netted a forehand volley to surrender the set. Monfils broke in the third game of the final set and held from there to take the match.
“I was very lucky he missed that volley,” Monfils said. “There was the belief (I could win), but it was very tough.”
Source by: AFP