Monfils To Face Nadal For Title

Gael Monfils will face Rafael Nadal in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after dismissing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday in an all-French semi-final clash.

“It’s always tough to play against French guys,” said Monfils. “This one was a tough one for Jo, but I feel I played very good. Definitely was expecting a little bit slight tougher.”

If he is to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, Monfils will need to overturn a 2-11 head-to-head record against Nadal. Nadal has won their past three meetings, with Monfils’ last victory over the Spaniard coming four years ago in the Doha semi-finals.

Monfils is through to his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, after runner-up showings in Paris in 2009 (l. to Djokovic) and 2010 (l. to Soderling), and has done so without dropping a set.

The 13th seed carried his rich vein of form into the semi-finals and dominated the first set, allowing Tsonga just seven return points and breaking his countryman four times to seal the opener. Trailing 1-6, 1-4, Tsonga mounted a fightback, breaking Monfils to love to bring the score back to 3-4. But Monfils immediately reclaimed his lead with a break in the eighth game and served out victory in 70 minutes. Tsonga committed 34 unforced errors.

Tsonga had battled past Roger Federer in Friday’s quarter-finals and dropped to a 14-7 mark on the season. The 30-year-old Frenchman also fell in the Monte-Carlo semi-finals in 2013, losing out to Nadal on that occasion.

“Unfortunately I had a poor start,” said Tsonga. “In the beginning, I made some mistakes that I don’t usually do. I missed a lot in the beginning. It became complicated. I was always behind, trying to catch up. And he was playing very well.

“I think it helped him being relaxed. He broke me twice. After that, I was always behind. I was not able to do what I usually do well with my forehand. My forehand was out by 10 centimeters. I never succeeded in getting back into that match.”

Monfils will contest his second ATP World Tour final of the season after finishing runner-up to Martin Klizan in Rotterdam. In a strong start to 2016, the right-hander also reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic) and the Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Nishikori). He has a 5-18 record in ATP World Tour finals.

Monfils will look to become the first French champion in Monte-Carlo since Cedric Pioline in 2000.

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