Gael Monfils took his winning streak to six matches after beating No.3 seed Marin Cilic in the opening round of the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships.
The veteran Frenchman knocked out the 2014 US Open champion 6-3 4-6 6-0, and has now won nine of his 10 matches since the Australian Open.
In his last tournament outing, he won the ATP indoor title in Rotterdam – the equal-biggest crown of his 16-year pro career.
“I have new goals, [a] new team, [a] new routine,” the 32-year-old Monfils said. “Obviously, wins under my belt. Everything is going fine. I am just trying to keep doing what I’m doing.”
“Every day a little more, a little more to improve. [I’m] definitely trying to reach my goal [of returning to the Top 10] this year.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 26, 2019
Monfils was last inside the top 10 in February 2017, having ended the 2016 season at No.7 – the only top-10 season finish of his career so far.
Having fallen as low as No.33 after the Australian Open, Monfils has since risen to 23rd.
The victory over Cilic extended Monfils’ winning record over the Croatian to 4-0, and sets up a second-round meeting with Marcos Baghdatis, who beat fellow wildcard Mohamed Safwat in three sets.
Cilic was not the only seed to crash out of the tournament on Tuesday, with world No.113 Ricardas Berankis stunning eighth-seeded Russian Medvedev 6-3 6-3.
“I was feeling good today. I’m really happy with my game,” 28-year-old Lithuanian Berankis said.
“The plan was to stay as close as possible and not to get in his game, which is to get into those long rallies which he loves.”
Two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych faced a stern test from lucky loser Ilya Ivashka but the Czech veteran pulled off a 6-4 4-6 7-6 (4) victory, while other first-round winners on Tuesday were Hubert Hurkacz, Denis Kudla and qualifier Egor Gerasimov.
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