Gael Monfils collected his 8th career title Sunday in Rotterdam after dispatching good friend Stan Wawrinka in an all-thirtysomething final 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
The title was Monfils’ first since taking Doha at the start of 2018.
“We have been practicing all winter together, and really for the past 14 years too,” said Monfils. “In these matches, it’s tricky to surprise the other. I was a bit tougher than him in the third set and changed the rhythm, as I felt he was playing heavy in the second set and I felt like I couldn’t handle it. I had to break his momentum. I had to be more aggressive and sneak in some serve and volley tennis.
“In the second set, I felt like I was pushing back physically and not striking cleanly. I was stressed and angry, but I had to think about it and in the third game of the decider, I took my chance and gained energy.”
It’s just Monfils’ second career ATP 500 title after winning 2016 Washington.
Wawrinka was appearing in his first final since his 2017 French run when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the title match.
Along the way, the 33-year-old Wawrinka beat three straight Top 25 players in Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Kei Nishikori. He was seeking a 17th career trophy.
“It was a tough final and Gael played really well,” commented Wawrinka. “He did what he had to do at the right moments. I was struggling with my footwork at times to be more aggressive on my groundstrokes. That’s what made the difference.
“It’s great to have been back in the final, but also how I played to get there. I played a good match and good level today, but it’s great to see the level is there across a full week. I have to keep doing what I’ve been doing over the past few months: working hard off the court, playing matches and building my confidence.”
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