Speed Kills: Monfils' Hustle Blunts Eubanks' Power
Gael Monfils produced a commanding third-set revival after squandering two match points in the second set to oust Christopher Eubanks 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-1 at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto on Monday night.
The French showman had Canadian fans in the palm of his hand as he produced a series of dazzling hot shots while breaking the recent Wimbledon quarter-finalist three times in the decider as he produced one of his best sets of tennis for the year.
Monfils served for the match at 5-3, earned two match points on return at 6-5 and also led 4/1 in the second-set tie-break.
“It was a tough match, but I picked up a little confidence last week [in Washington]. It’s always good to beat top players. I am very happy,” Monfils said.
“I served for the match and had a couple of match points, so I had to refocus on the simple stuff, use my quick feet and be more aggressive as I had been tense and let him dictate too much. I was happy with my speed on the court and felt my coverage was a key today.”
Entering the tournament on a protected ranking, World No. 276 Monfils made just 20 unforced errors to Eubanks’ 62. He also won a healthy 35 per cent of points on Eubanks’ first serve en route to setting a second-round showdown with freshly minted Los Cabos champion, World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Playing deep behind the baseline, the former World No. 6 was able to run down many of Eubank's heavy groundstrokes and built his victory around putting more balls in play than his 27-year-old opponent and his ability to come up with spectacular passing shots against the net-rushing American, including a low half-court forehand to claim a double break at 4-1 in the decider after scurrying all over the court.