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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

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Late-Night Thriller Ends With Monfils Toppling American John Isner

Sunday, August 7, 2011

 Frenchman Gael Monfils celebrates after win over American John Isner at Legg Mason Classic.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — French top seed Gael Monfils saved a match point and edged John Isner 6-4, 3-6 7-5 (8/6) in a rain-disrupted match early Sunday to reach the final of the $1.4 million ATP Washington Classic.

Big-serving American Isner and fleet-footed showman Monfils staged a classic despite a rain delay at the start and two interruptions that pushed the end to 1:15 in the morning, when Isner netted a forehand after a Monfils lob winner.

After a split with Australian coach Roger Rasheed last month following three years together and a left wrist injury that kept him out for six weeks early in the season, seventh-ranked Monfils was thrilled to reach his first US final.

"I'm very happy," Monfils said. "It's not finished, but almost a great achievement. I have had a tough year. I had an injury and a new coach. To come up strong again, it feels good."

Monfils will play for his fourth career title in Sunday's championship match at the hardcourt event against 54th-ranked Czech Radek Stepanek, who ousted American Donald Young 6-3, 6-3, in the other semi-final.

"It will be a tough match," Monfils said. "He will be aggressive. I will have to be strong from the start because it won't be easy."

Stepanek has dropped five of seven meetings with Monfils, including their most recent clash two weeks ago on Hamburg clay.

"He's moving incredibly well," Stepanek said. "He's a great shotmaker."

Isner denied Monfils on two match points in the 10th game of the third set, smashing a forehand volley winner and a 130-mph ace that Monfils appealed to video replay only to find the system had failed.

"It's frustrating because on match point, the machine goes down," Monfils said. "That's the first time that has happened to me."

In the tie-breaker, neither player took a point off the other's serve until the decider. Isner blasted a 127-mph ace to reach his lone match point at 6-5, but Monfils answered with a 110-mph ace, setting up the drama-ending shots.

"The 6-all point he hit a huge second serve, put it on the line and lobbed me," Isner said. "It was a risky shot and then I cracked on match point."

Monfils reached his first ATP final since last November at the Paris Masters event and only his second outdoor hardcourt final since 2006, the other coming last year at Tokyo. His most recent title came last October at Montpellier.

Monfils, 24, must win five matches in four days to claim a fourth career ATP crown due to rain that forced him to play twice Thursday.

Isner, ranked 35th, had won 11 of his prior 12 matches but saw his career rivalry with the Frenchman leveled at 3-3. Isner, 26, won their first meeting in a 2007 Washington semi-final that went to three tie-breakers.

Rain dogged Monfils and Isner, delaying their start, returning after they had played only seven points and striking again after Isner held to lead 5-2 in the second set, sending Monfils to talk with new coach Patrick Chamagne.

"I had the feel of his game and his serve," Monfils said. "I discussed with my coach and released all the frustration I had."

Monfils took the only break of the first set to lead 5-4 when Isner smacked a forehand wide and the Frenchman held serve with a 109-mph ace to win the set.

But Monfils netted a forehand drop volley in the second game of the second set and Isner rode the break to claim the set, the only disruption coming during a pause after a 107-mph Isner serve hit a spectator in the face.

Stepanek, the oldest player in the world's top 100 and oldest ATP finalist of the year at age 32, seeks his fifth career title in his first final since last year at Brisbane.

Stepanek, whose most recent ATP title came in 2009 at San Jose, could crack the top 30 with what he said would be the biggest title of his career.

"This tournament can give me a kick for the rest of the season," Stepanek said. "If I can make it to the US Open and be seeded, that would be great for me."

Photos by Getty Images

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A Very Focused Donald Young Halted In Washington, DC Semifinal

American Donald Young in the semifinal round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic

After a week that has shown a very focused Donald Young at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC, Young's run was halted on Saturday in his semifinal match against veteran Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.

The 32-year-old Stepanek convincingly beat the 22-year-old American 6-3, 6-3 to reach the final.

Post match Young said, "He's a veteran... 10 years my senior."

Their post-match demeanors couldn't have been more dissimilar. Stepanek walked into, and out of, the interview room with a bored air, checking his phone for messages. Young sat with the body language of a teenager, baseball cap backward, one sneaker resting upon each other, not really making eye contact with his questioners.

"He had me quite flustered."

"I couldn't get set into the way I wanted to play. It wasn't that I was nervous, but more so he took me out of my game"

Photos by Getty Images

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Top Seed Tsonga Exits Second Round In Loss To Stepanek

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in second round match against Czech Radek Stepanek

In a second round match, Czech Radek Stepanek knocked out top-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3. Tsonga, a runner-up Monday at The Queen’s Club, managed to win just 55 per cent of his service points and was broken four times during the 59-minute match.

Stepanek improved to a 15-12 season record, and recorded his first win over Tsonga in three meetings. The former World No. 8 next meets the winner between Japan’s Kei Nishikori and German qualifier Rainer Schuettler.

Photo by Getty Images

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AEGON International: Wednesday Preview Includes Serena vs. Zvonareva

American Serena Williams and Russian Vera Zvonareva scheduled for play on Wednesday in Eastbourne.

It's Wednesday at the AEGON International which means it's second round singles time at Devonshire Park.

The standout match is the women's top seed Vera Zvonareva against the unseeded American wild card Serena Williams. Yesterday Williams, the world No.26, recovered from a slow start to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in her first match since she won the Wimbledon title in 2010. Her opponent in that Wimbledon final, almost 12 months ago, was none other than Vera Zvonareva and it was a one-sided win for Williams who took it 6-3, 6-2.

However times have changed. Before yesterday, due to a serious foot injury and blood clots on both lungs, the former world No.1 had not played. Zvonareva, meanwhile, has maintained her form and is currently sitting at No.3 in the world rankings. The Russian came past Britain's Heather Watson yesterday, winning 6-3, 6-3 and will relish the opportunity to get her revenge on the younger Williams sister.

Serena's older sister, Venus, starts the proceedings on day five as she takes on Ana Ivanovic in the first match of the day on Centre Court. The pair have met on seven occasions with Williams winning six of them.

Third on Centre Court is the men's top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who brushed aside Denis Istomin yesterday, 6-2, 7-5, and he plays Radek Stepanek after the Czech player defeated Britain's Colin Fleming in round one.

Speaking of Brits, Elena Baltacha takes on third seed Victoria Azarenka first on Court 1 and James Ward will play a one set shootout against Janko Tipsarevic after their match was called to a halt at one set all yesterday.

With Schiavone, Hantuchova, Li Na and Kvitova also in action, as well as a doubles appearance from British duo Heather Watson & Anne Keothavong it promises to be another entertaining day of tennis in Eastbourne.

Photo by Getty Images
Source AEGON International

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Monfils Falls To Stepanek In Brisbane

Friday, January 8, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils vs. Radek Stepanek at Brisbane InternationalGael Monfils, France
(Photos by AP)

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils vs. Radek Stepanek at Brisbane InternationalThe Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek maintained his bid to defend his Brisbane International title by taking out Frenchman Gael Monfils in today's very lopsided 6-2, 6-1 semifinal defeat.

In a bit of Monfils support, his left shoulder remained very heavily taped for this semifinal. Subsequent to his defeat of American James Blake he stated that he was feeling some pain when he served and that he was concerned about the shoulder. The Frenchman's game was not top notch for this match.

Prior to this match Monfils held a 3-1 head to head record against the Stepanek.

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Monfils Takes Out Blake, Into Brisbane Semifinals

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Brisbane International QuarterfinalsGael Monfils, France
(Photos by AP)

BRISBANE, Australia — Gael Monfils produced tennis of the highest quality to see off an equally impressive James Blake in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International on Thursday.

Playing with his right shoulder heavily strapped, the mercurial Frenchman broke Blake at a crucial stage of the third set to clinch a thrilling match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake Brisbane International Quarterfinals
The two men duelled for one and three quarter hours, serving powerfully and producing some crunching groundstrokes, and for a long time it was hard to see who would finish on top.

But at 3-3 in the final set the 30-year-old Blake faltered slightly and with the game poised at 30-40, Monfils struck a beautiful backhand passing shot to leave the American stranded.

Blake refused to concede and he had a chance to break back immediately, but Monfils clung on and eventually wrapped up the quarter-final on his fourth match point, celebrating by beating his chest with his fist in sheer delight.

"He had a good start and was hitting the ball well," Monfils said.

"I started with the wrong tactic -- I was hitting the ball to his forehand and James just didn't miss.

"But I think James began to spray it more and he gave me a chance to get more aggressive and try a few more shots, and I think that was the key to the match."

He also said there was no problem with his shoulder, despite the heavy strapping.

"Today was a bit better (than in the second round) because I found a good way to tape it ... tomorrow will be a lot better for sure."

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Brisbane International Quarterfinals
Monfils will now play Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the semi-finals after the second seed kept alive his hopes of defending his title with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 win over Wayne Odesnik of the U.S.

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Monfils Powers His Way Into Paris Final - WooHoo!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Paris Masters FinalGael Monfils, France
(Photos by Clive Rose and Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Gael Monfils delighted the home crowd by overcoming the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek to reach the final of the Paris Masters.

The Paris-born player, world No 16, shared the opening two sets with the Czech but broke at 5-4 in the third to take the match 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and set up a clash with Novak Djokovic.

Monfils said, "I know on Sunday I'll give my life on the court. I want to win. I'm not listening to my body any more."

A lot of Monfils’ best results have come in France. Last year he made the French Open semis and he won his first title this autumn for four years in Metz. "When I play in front of my family and the French crowd, I feel immediately a lot better," Monfils explained. "I believe in myself. I don't have much autonomy, but I believe in it. I try to do my best, and my level of game gets higher. I move well. I surprise myself."

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Davis Cup: France And The Czech Republic 1-1

Friday, March 6, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Davis CupJo-Wilfried Tsonga with French Davis Cup Team

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is congratulated by the French Davis Cup Captain Guy Forget and teammates after defeating Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (1). The first rubber, played by Gilles Simon, was lost to Tomas Berdych 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-7(2), 3-6.

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Davis CupBlack Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Davis CupBlack Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Davis Cup Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Davis Cup

Photos by AP/Getty Images

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