Monfils Goes Back-To-Back, Claims Second Rotterdam Title
Frenchman lifts 10th ATP Tour title
Gael Monfils added another chapter to his impressive history at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Sunday, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-4 to lift his second ATP Tour title in as many weeks.
Last week, the Frenchman claimed a record-tying third Montpellier title. Monfils has proven almost unstoppable this month, winning nine straight matches to claim two ATP Tour titles in a season for the first time.
“It’s an amazing feeling for the first time for me to back it up, year after year, week after week,” said Monfils. “It is a different feeling I have never experienced in my career, so I feel grateful.”
The World No. 9 broke serve on four occasions against the #NextGenATP Canadian to lift his second straight trophy at the opening ATP 500 event of the year. Monfils improves to 14-1 in Rotterdam since 2016, having also reached the championship match in 2016.
The 33-year-old becomes the first player since Robin Soderling in 2011 to win consecutive titles at the Rotterdam Ahoy. Monfils has now won seven of his 10 ATP Tour trophies on indoor hard courts.
“[In the FedEx ATP Rankings, I want] to reach the fifth spot," said Monfils. "I have been sixth. [I would like] to reach the final at another Masters 1000, why not try to win one and keep the dream alive? The dream is to win a Grand Slam and that is what I am playing for and training for. It is tough, but I believe that maybe one day I will be lucky enough to win one.”
Monfils played with patience from the baseline and attacked Auger-Aliassime’s forehand in key moments to extract errors. After failing to convert three break points at 1-1, Monfils charged up the court two games later and got the better of the Canadian in a net exchange to earn the first break of the match.
The Frenchman doubled his advantage at 4-2, with Auger-Aliassime struggling to find the court on his forehand. Monfils served out the set on his first set point with a powerful serve up the T. Throughout the 39-minute opener, Auger-Aliassime committed 12 unforced forehand errors.
The forehand errors continued to flow from Auger-Aliassime’s racquet in the second set, with Monfils breaking to love in the opening game. The Frenchman showcased great reaction skills en route to a double-break advantage and, despite failing to convert four championship points at 5-2, he held his nerve at 5-4, clinching the title with an accurate serve out wide.
“It was a passive match from me,” said Monfils. “I chose to be in defence quite a lot… I knew, physically, it would be tough for him to come through me. I was doing this great… At the end, I was very pleased with my service.”
This is the first time since 1998 that one nation has swept the singles and doubles trophies in Rotterdam. The all-French team of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut triumphed in the doubles final. France is the fifth nation to achieve the feat, joining the United States, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.
Competing as the youngest finalist in tournament history, Auger-Aliassime was aiming to capture his first ATP Tour crown in his fourth final. Auger-Aliassime dropped only one set en route to the final, scoring victories against Jan-Lennard Struff, Grigor Dimitrov, Aljaz Bedene and Pablo Carreno Busta to become the first Canadian to reach the championship match in Rotterdam.
“The week has been good, encouraging,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It is the start of the season and the second month I’ve played. It is encouraging for what is next but I will have to keep working well, doing the adjustments I need to do and keep believing, keep pushing to give myself chances to play matches like these.”