Klizan's Rotterdam Heroics End In Glory
Slovak beats Monfils for fourth ATP World Tour crown
It wouldn’t be a Martin Klizan match this week if the Slovak wasn’t fighting from behind to claim victory. The 26 year old captured the biggest title of his career as he rallied from a set down to defeat fifth seed Gael Monfils 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
Klizan was christened the ‘Escape Artist’ after his dramatic run through to the final at this ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard-court tournament. The left-hander saved five match points to upset sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals and fended off three match points in a hard-fought semi-final win over Nicolas Mahut. It was the most match points saved en route to an ATP World Tour title, since 2001.
"I cannot believe that it happened," said Klizan. "It was my dream to be on the board with these unbelievably great players. It's an amazing feeling. Every day I was just fighting. Most of the time I had three-hour matches every day, so the only thing I could do was fight. In the end I saved so many match points. I still cannot believe it.
"In tennis you play best-of-three or best-of-five, so there is always the chance to win the match. So I just tried to fight until the last point and it was a good option.
"This is the best result in my career so far. I'm very, very proud of it. Also in our country, maybe I can be a motivation for the young players. I'm very happy for that."
Klizan had the better of the chances in the first set against Monfils, but couldn’t convert any of his six break points before ultimately succumbing in the tie-break. But the Slovak came back strongly in the second set, earning the first break of the match in the eighth game, courtesy of a Monfils double fault.
Klizan carried his momentum into the decider and allowed Monfils just six points as he raced into a 5-0 lead. Monfils scrambled to get one break back, but Klizan finished with a trademark forehand winner as he broke the Frenchman again for victory in just under two hours.
The Slovak captured his fourth ATP World Tour title (4-0 finals record), adding to the trophies he lifted at the ATP World Tour 250 tournaments in St. Petersburg 2012, Munich 2014 and Casablanca 2015. He earns 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €363,400 in prize money.
The 29-year-old Monfils was bidding to win his sixth ATP World Tour title and drops to a 5-18 finals record. The Frenchman’s last title came two years ago against Richard Gasquet in the 2014 Montpellier final. The right-hander, who opened his season with a quarter-final showing at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic), has an 8-3 record in 2016.
"Martin played a very good match," said Monfils. "I think he just played a brilliant match today, better than me, so well done to him. I had good matches, but still it's tough to lose in the final."