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Europe

Gaël Monfils wins the 12th ATP tournament of his career in Stockholm

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Gaël Monfils, 140th in the world, won the ATP 250 tournament in Stockholm on Sunday for the second time in his career, beating in the final 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 the Russian Pavel Kotov, 109th and from qualifications. The Frenchman, who at the age of 37 is attempting a return to the highest level after injuries to a foot and wrist having poisoned a large part of his season, offers himself a 12th title on the circuit, which should allow him to rejoin the top 100 one week before the Masters 1000 at Paris-Bercy.

“Pavel pushed me to my limits until the end, I ran so hard,” breathed Monfils, all smiles on the court, after going to kiss his wife, the Ukrainian player Elina Svitolina, and his mother. His opponent, 13 years his junior, 109th in the world and from qualifying, may indeed harbor regrets at having come close to victory, he who was two points from the match at 6-6 in the decisive game of the second set.

Monfils rewarded for his combativeness

But at this crucial moment, the experience of the Parisian, who has played at least one final per season since 2005 – alone Rafael Nadal and Jimmy Connors have achieved this for 19 consecutive years – prevailed. Monfils, tightening up his game at the right time after having suffered for a long time from the opposing power in the exchanges, was rewarded by his combativeness, after having long seemed physically challenged. Two games earlier, he had notably managed to erase three break points likely to put Kotov on a royal path.

“I continued to believe in it and finally it worked,” said the Parisian. And it was finally Kotov, suddenly far from displaying the same determination as at the start of the match, committed to the ground without being intimidated by the stakes, who seriously suffered the blow. Because Monfils, finally launched into his final, the 34th of his career, managed to break twice in the third set.

The happy epilogue to a trying week

Definitely revived, returning everything in defense despite the back and forth from the baseline, subtle in the way he alternated his shots and finally able to set his pace, he never trembled to maintain this advantage until the end. Even when Kotov, in a last stand, managed to steal his service to return to 5-3. In vain, because “La Monf'” immediately got back to finishing the job. Logical favorite at the start against this almost unknown opponent, the Frenchman can congratulate himself on not having faltered during this trap match, the fifth in a row in a week which ended up being a little trying.



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