Tennis: Fourth-time lucky Monfils storms to Qatar title

Monfils celebrates after beating Russia's Andrey Rublev.
Monfils celebrates after beating Russia's Andrey Rublev.PHOTO: AFP

DOHA (AFP) - France’s Gael Monfils won the Qatar Open final in straight sets on Saturday (Jan 6), brushing aside Russia’s Andrey Rublev in a one-sided final, 6-2, 6-3.

It was the Frenchman’s first Qatar title despite having played in three previous finals, stretching back more than a decade, and he is the first wildcard to win in Doha since compatriot Nicolas Escude triumphed back in 2004.

Saturday’s victory was his seventh victory overall on the ATP tour.

The 31-year-old, who arrived in Qatar after a four-month break due to a knee injury, dominated throughout.

He broke Rublev’s serve in the fourth game of each set and barely look troubled by the Russian, who has been so impressive all week but could not cope with the power of Monfils.

The world number 46 took the first set in just 23 minutes, and in the second was able to save two break points in the fifth game after establishing a 3-1 lead – the only time the Frenchman’s serve was put under pressure.

Monfils needed only one championship point to secure the match after exactly an hour on court.

Rublev looked crestfallen afterwards but has the consolation that he will be seeded at the forthcoming Australian Open.

He went in to Saturday’s final as the world ranked number 39 but that will rise to at least 33 after Doha and will be seeded at the Australian Open in only his second appearance in Melbourne because of injuries to other players.

The victory – and those injuries to top players – may even give Monfils, a former world number six, an outside of being seeded in Melbourne.

Monfils had previously lost in Doha in 2006, 2012 and 2014.