Monfils beats Wawrinka to claim Rotterdam title

Published by Reuters

Gael Monfils poses with his trophy after winning the ATP indoor hard-court event in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Getty Images)
Gael Monfils wins the equal-biggest title of his 16-year pro career thanks to his triumph at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam.

Gael Monfils beat his training partner Stan Wawrinka 6-3 1-6 6-2 on Sunday at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament to capture his first ATP Tour title in 13 months.

It took one hour and 44 minutes for Monfils to win the match in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Frenchman now holds a lifetime 8-21 record in ATP Tour finals. This was just his second ATP 500 title, with six of his eight tournament victories coming at 250-level.

Wawrinka, of Switzerland, won the Rotterdam tournament in 2015.

“We have been practicing all winter together, and really for the past 14 years, too,” Monfils, 32, told atptour.com.

“In these matches, it’s tricky to surprise the other. I was a bit tougher than him in the third set and changed the rhythm, as I felt he was playing heavy in the second set and I felt like I couldn’t handle it.

“I had to break his momentum. I had to be more aggressive and sneak in some serve-and-volley tennis.”

Wawrinka last competed in a tour-level final in the 2017 French Open, which he lost to Rafael Nadal. He is 16-13 in finals in his career.

“It was a tough final and Gael played really well,” Wawrinka said. “He did what he had to do at the right moments. I was struggling with my footwork at times to be more aggressive on my groundstrokes. That’s what made the difference.”

Cecchinato triumphant in Argentina

At the Argentina Open, third-seeded Marco Cecchinato of Italy finished off a stellar tournament, defeating home-crowd favorite and fourth-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2 in Buenos Aires.

Cecchinato did not drop a set throughout the week on the way to his third tour title.

“I was able to play a great match and was always focused. I followed the game plan from the beginning to the end,” the 26-year-old Italian said.

“I was able to win the first two matches (of the tournament) the hard way, working point by point. I improved my level yesterday and I was focused today, so I’m happy with how I was able to win the tournament.”

For the tournament, he led all players with second-serve points won (63 percent) and second-serve return points won (64 percent).

Schwartzman, also 26, was just one more challenger to fall.

“Marco played a great match and deserved to be the champion. He didn’t let me do anything today,” he said.

“Playing at home and getting to the final was very nice for me. I had the unconditional support of the fans all week and that respect is something that makes me feel good despite the bad result.”

Opelka powers to victory in New York

American Reilly Opelka hit 43 aces against Brayden Schnur on his way to securing a first ATP title at the New York Open.

The 21-year-old, who also hit 43 aces and saved six match points in his semifinal win over John Isner, came through 6-1 6-7(7) 7-6(7).

Opelka is projected to rise from No.89 to a career-high 56th in the world rankings.

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