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Well, It Was Good While It Lasted - Monfils Out

Friday, January 9, 2009

DOHA (AFP) — Andy Roddick reached his first final since September when he carved a fine win in a high quality match against Gael Monfils in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open.

The former world number one from the United States also showed signs of evolving into a more measured and varied player during his 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-3 win over the brilliant but inconsistent Frenchman.

"He has an interesting dynamic because he just begs you to come forward, and then he will come up with a passing shot," he said.

"So it's a matter of staying the course and not getting discouraged by it. It was a physical match but I have done a lot of hard work in close season.

"I wasn't in shape at the end of last year after various injuries and stiff, but now I feel better."

Monfils, who eliminated world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets on Thursday, looked to have more than enough spectacular weapons to sweep Roddick aside too, with his blistering court coverage, excellent serving and blazing winners.

But the 22-year-old missed his chance to close out the first set when he was serving at 5-4, and having re-established a dominance in many of the rallies was unable to find the right shot at crucial moments in the final set.

Roddick, by contrast, made the most of his assets in resourceful fashion. He kept his head when Monfils was threatening to trample on him in the first set, making the younger player play plenty of balls in the crises moments, and in the tie-break was by far the more solid.

Monfils, more relaxed again, was at his spectacular best in the second set, when again he looked easily good enough to become a top five player.

One outrageous forehand topspin lob winner, made while he was hurtling sideways behind the baseline, contributed to his break of serve in the fourth game, and he consolidated that by holding serve all through with an 80 percent first delivery ratio.

But Monfils' shot choices became less convincing in the third set, and he also became more passive.

Roddick broke for 3-1, lost it and slipped to 3-3 as Monfils once again looked a better player when trying to come from behind. But the former US Open champion broke again for 5-3 when Monfils played a disappointingly indifferent service game.

Monfils looked capable of breaking back at the death but at 30-all selected a dropshot-lob combination when he seemed well placed to try to pass Roddick. The ball landed long, and Roddick closed the match out nervelessly in the next rally with a well-controlled net attack.

Posted by Shelia

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