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US OPEN SERIES LEGG MASON: Fatigue And A Well-Rested Crafty Stepanek Defeat Monfils In Final

Monday, August 8, 2011

Frenchman Gael Monfils showing great frustration in Legg Mason final.

WASHINGTON DC - Seventh-ranked Monfils, in his first US final and his first final of any kind since last year's Paris Masters, fell to 3-11 in ATP title matches, foiled in a bid for his first outdoor hardcourt crown and fourth career title.

"To be honest, I'm unlucky," Monfils said of his finals failure rate.

Monfils, who never managed a break point against Stepanek, also said he was a bit tired after his rain-hit semi-final finished only 14 hours before the final started.

"But when you step on the court you forget about this," Monfils said.

Stepanek came to the net for 29 of his 57 points. While connecting on only 37 percent of his first serves, he won 90 percent of those points, including all 12 in the final set, and took 63 percent of second-serve points.

"He didn't miss much," Monfils said. "I was a fraction slower as well. I couldn't hit many passing shots. He played a great match."

Fromn the start, Stepanek moved to keep Monfils on the defensive.

"I wanted to be in control," Stepanek said. "If I was going to go for it or miss it I wanted to decide all the points. It was my game plan to be aggressive and attack when I can. I was in control from the first point to the last."

Stepanek broke Monfils with a backhand winner down the line in the third game of the match and led 3-2 when rain halted play. A break in the rain allowed them to play three points, enough for Stepanek to hold to 4-2, before another downpour hit.

"He was very aggressive," Monfils said. "I expected that but he didn't miss a lot at the start, hit it pretty deep and fast. This was a bit tricky for me."

When play resumed, each man held twice, Stepanek taking the set on a service winner after 54 minutes.

Stepanek broke Monfils again to open the second set, the Frenchman racing down the Czech's forehand volley but netting a forehand. Stepanek made the break stand, serving out to win after 93 minutes with a forehand volley winner.

Stepanek, the oldest player in the world's top 100, became the ATP's oldest champion since France's Fabrice Santoro at 35 at Newport in 2008, Washington's eldest winner since a 35-year-old Connors and a top-30 player after starting the week ranked 54th.

Photos by Getty Images
Source AFP

Posted by Shelia

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