Monfils To Face Tsonga In Semis

Gael Monfils set an all-French semi-final clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after ending the run of lucky loser Marcel Granollers with a 6-2, 6-4 victory on Friday.

“It’s going to be a big match for several reasons,” said Monfils. “First, Jo has a game that I have trouble with. I was able to beat him once, but he was coming back from an injury.

“He gives me many problems. It’s always the case when I play against very aggressive players. I will need to find a solution to push him back and to try to stop him dominating the rallies. I think it’s going to be explosive.”

The 29-year-old Monfils is through to his fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final and first since reaching the final four at the Monte-Carlo Country Club last year, when he fell to Tomas Berdych. He is bidding to reach his third Masters 1000 final after runner-up showings in Paris in 2009 (l. to Djokovic) and 2010 (l. to Soderling).

The right-hander overturned a 1-3 record against Granollers, beating the Spaniard for the first time in seven years as he claimed victory in 74 minutes. Monfils converted four of his five break points and won 70 per cent of his service points.

“I tried to be aggressive. I tried to use my forehand more,” said Monfils. “Last time he surprised me because he was returning from far behind the baseline. So I tried to have slower first serves and tried to hit my forehand immediately to open up the court for me.

“I tried to make him run. I also tried now and then to come to the net to surprise him. Of course, I had different tactics than last time I played him. I always try to use my weapons.”

World No. 67 Granollers had seized his opportunity after taking the place of the injured David Ferrer in the main draw. The Spaniard, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday, battled past Alexander Zverev in the second round before upsetting David Goffin to reach the quarter-finals. He dropped to a 6-9 mark on the season.

Monfils’ consistent start to 2016 continues. The Frenchman is bidding to reach his second final of the season after finishing runner-up in Rotterdam (l. to Klizan). He also reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic) and at the Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Nishikori).

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