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Ailing Monfils Upset In Johannesburg

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils vs. Feliciano Lopez South African Open SemifinalGael Monfils, France

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils vs. Feliciano Lopez South African Open SemifinalJOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Feliciano Lopez of Spain and Stephane Robert of France advanced to the final of the SA Open on Saturday after eliminating the two highest-seeded players in the tournament.

Lopez upset top-seeded Gael Monfils of France 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), while Robert ousted No. 2 David Ferrer of Spain 7-5, 6-4.

Monfils struggled in the second set after hurting his knee and was broken twice, winning just eight points on his serve.

"Gael outclassed me in the first set, and after he hurt his knee I was nervous because I wasn't sure to expect," Lopez said. "But I hung in well and played some good serve and volley tennis to take the second set. In the decider he looked to be back to 100 per cent on his feet and it was a close match until the tiebreaker where I just seemed to do everything right."

The 29-year-old Robert reached the first ATP Tour final of his career, having changed his style of play after returning to the game six months ago following a long bout of hepatitis that sidelined him for the previous 15 months.

"I had been all my life playing what I call casino tennis, hitting crazy shots, gambling with big shots and closing my eyes just hoping the ball would go in," the 100th-ranked Robert said. "I never got any better than about 160th in the world rankings with that approach and last August, when I came back to tennis after the illness, I had a long chat with my coach, Ronan Lafaix, who persuaded me to do things differently. He urged me to start focusing on one thing at a time, to concentrate harder than ever before and develop a precision game instead of my unreliable casino tennis."

"It just shows you that because I'm nearly 30 years old doesn't mean I'm over the hill," he said.

Posted by Shelia

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