Seven days after falling to Daniil Medvedev in the Sofia Open semi-finals, Gael Monfils defeated the Russian 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his second ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament final on Saturday.
The 2016 runner-up (l. to Klizan) fired 29 winners to record his 15th win in 22 matches at the opening ATP 500 event of the season after two hours and eight minutes. Monfils improves to 8-2 this season and will be aiming to capture his first ATP Tour trophy since lifting the Qatar ExxonMobil Open title (d. Rublev) in January 2018.
Monfils will meet top seed Kei Nishikori or Stan Wawrinka for the title on Sunday. The 32-year-old trails Nishikori 1-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has triumphed in two of five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Wawrinka.
In a series of marathon rallies, Medvedev and Monfils opened the court and mixed the pace well to entertain the crowd in the opening stages. At 2-2, Medvedev capitalised on back-to-back errors from Monfils to claim the first break and, despite surrendering his advantage, the Russian clinched the first set with back-to-back games from 4-4. With comfort on his backhand side, Medvedev proved the more consistent player in extended rallies to extract crucial errors from his opponent.
Monfils began to increase his aggression in the second set, hitting through his forehand and moving up the court to gain a 2-0 lead. The Frenchman may have gifted Medvedev a route back into the set with consecutive double faults at 3-1 (30/30), but Monfils hit through the court on his backhand to regain his break advantage and soon levelled the match with a powerful serve out wide.
After trading breaks early in the deciding set, Monfils earned two break points at 4-4 with an imaginative drop shot, before clinching the break with an aggressive approach to Medvedev's forehand. Once again, Monfils moved to the net to earn two match points and then booked his place in the final after dragging Medvedev off the court with an angled backhand approach.
Did You Know?
Monfils ended a streak of 15 consecutive sets won by Medvedev to take the match to a deciding set. The last man to win a set against Medvedev prior to Monfils was Robin Haase, who led the Russian by a set in the Sofia Open Round of 16 last week.