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A look at the practice courts and the draw ceremony at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are the team to beat at the moment on the ATP World Tour. The French duo won their third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in a row on Sunday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The third seeds became the first French titlists at the Monte-Carlo Country Club since 1986 (Forget/Noah) as they defeated Australian Open champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 4-6, 6-0, 10-6.
"We were playing well and we also had some luck," Mahut said. "When you win matches, you're more confident and you're able to relax when you play the important points. It can turn a match around, especially in the (match) tie-break."
The final was delayed due to rain – a rare weather blip in what has been a near-perfect week in the Principality – and it was Murray/Soares who started the stronger. The British/Brazilian duo missed the chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but broke again in the 10th game to clinch the opener.
"We were the better team the first set. We were returning well, playing good," Murray said.
From there, Herbert and Mahut went on a tear, reeling off the next six games to level the match, dropping just five points on their serve. They carried that momentum into the Match Tie-break and after establishing an early 5-1 lead, fought off any hopes of a fightback from Murray/Soares as they went on to prevail in 74 minutes.
After victories in Indian Wells (d. Pospisil/Sock) and Miami (d. Klaasen/Ram), Herbert and Mahut are the first team since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in 2014 to sweep the first three Masters 1000 titles of the season. Herbert and Mahut captured their fifth tour-level title together, a haul that includes the US Open crown last year.
"We have been very humble on the court during the last month and a half," Herbert said. "After losing the first set, we could have been overwhelmed in the second. But we weren't. We kept fighting. That means in the long-term, we can be consistent day after day."
Murray and Soares were bidding to win their third title of the season after victories in Sydney (d. Bopanna/Mergea) and Melbourne (d. Nestor/Stepanek).
The championship of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Sunday matches No. 5/eight-time champion Rafael Nadal against No. 13 seed Gael Monfils, who is the first Frenchman to reach the final here since Cedric Pioline won the title in 2000 (d. Hrbaty). Nadal is trying to capture his ninth Monte-Carlo crown and 28th ATP Masters 1000 title in his 100th career final.
Nadal has an 11-2 career head-to-head record against Monfils, including 4-0 on clay (8-0 in sets). They first met here in the first round in 2005 and the Spaniard won 63 62 en route to his first of eight straight Monte-Carlo titles. Nadal also has won their two previous final meetings (’10 Tokyo, ’14 Doha). Their last meeting came in the semi-finals of Stuttgart last June and Nadal won 63 64 en route to the title.
Nadal is appearing in final for the 10th time (8-1) since 2005 and he’s looking to capture his first title here since 2012 (d. Djokovic). He has a tournament-best 57-4 career record and he won eight straight titles from 2005 to 2012. His 46-match Monte-Carlo winning streak came to an end in the 2013 final (l. to Djokovic). The 29-year-old Spaniard is the sixth player in the Open Era to reach at least 100 career ATP World Tour level singles finals (67-32). This is his 42nd final in an ATP Masters 1000 event (27-14) and his last Masters 1000 title came in Madrid in 2014 (d. Nishikori). He is second behind Novak Djokovic, who owns 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles. Nadal is appearing in his 56th career clay court final (47-8 mark) and he’s trying to win an ATP World Tour European clay court title for the 13th straight year (since 2004). His last title came in Hamburg on Aug. 2, 2015 (d. Fognini).
Monfils is the first double-digit seed to reach the Monte-Carlo final since No. 11 Nadal won the title in 2005. The last player outside the Top 10 to win an ATP Masters 1000 title was countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was No. 15 when he captured the Toronto title in 2014. The 29-year-old Frenchman is making his third final showing in an ATP Masters 1000 event, having reached back-to-back finals in Paris-Bercy in 2009 (l. to Djokovic) and 2010 (l. to Soderling). Monfils has not dropped a set in five matches, holding serve 37 of 43 games, while leading the tournament in return games won (24 of 42, 57%). Monfils is trying to earn his sixth ATP World Tour title in 24th final (5-18). He is 1-8 vs. Top 10 opponents in finals with his lone win over (9) Gasquet in 2014 Montpellier. He will break the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings if he wins the title.The last time he was in the Top 10 came on Nov. 7, 2011.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
Winner € 717,315 and 1,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points
Runner-up € 351,715 and 600 Emirates ATP Rankings points
Nadal is bidding for a 28th ATP Masters 1000 title (27-14) and 68th career title (67-32 in finals)
ATP MASTERS 1000 TITLE LEADERS: Nadal is trying to win his 28th career ATP Masters 1000 title and equal Novak Djokovic.
NADAL IN MONTE-CARLO FINALS: This is the fifth time since 2008 Nadal came into Monte-Carlo without an ATP World Tour title for the season. In the previous four times (2008, 2010-11-12), he left Monte-Carlo with the title.
It will be the 14th meeting between Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils as the pair battle for the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters crown on Sunday. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch Monte Carlo semifinal highlights as Rafael Nadal sets a final encounter against Gael Monfils. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images
Jamie Murray speaks to ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot about his journey to World No. 1.
Hear what Gael Monfils has to say about his upcoming final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters against Rafael Nadal. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Rafael Nadal is through to his 100th tour-level final after fighting from a set down to beat Andy Murray 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a thrilling contest on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
When he faces Gael Monfils on Sunday, Nadal will challenge for his 68th tour-level crown and ninth at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he won eight successive titles from 2005-12.
"I think I played a great second set in terms of mentality. In the third set, I played aggressive... It was a great match," Nadal said. "It's a very important week for me, being in a final here again in Monte-Carlo, winning against very tough opponents."
The Spaniard is bidding to draw level with leader Novak Djokovic on 28 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles by claiming his first trophy at this level since 2014 Madrid, where he beat Kei Nishikori in the final.
After battling wins over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Benoit Paire, the second-seeded Murray has improved throughout the week in Monte-Carlo and showed his best tennis as he dictated against Nadal in the first set. The Dunblane native did not hold back, and his aggression paid off as he broke Nadal to lead 4-2.
Murray squandered a 30/0 lead in the following game, but saved two break points with an ace and a forehand winner to stay in front, before breaking Nadal again to claim the opener.
Nadal looked set to mount a fightback as he broke Murray in the first game of the second set. But Murray continued to pummel away from the back of the court and was rewarded as he immediately levelled at 1-1. The Spaniard did not let slip a second break advantage though. After breaking Murray for a 4-3 lead, Nadal warmed to his task and rallied from 15/40 in the following game and went on to draw level.
It was all Nadal in the decider. The Spaniard was the one controlling the baseline exchanges and stepping in, taking advantage of a slight drop in Murray’s level. The Manacor native broke Murray in the first game of the third set and raced into a 5-2 lead. Murray made a last stand in an enthralling eighth game, saving four match points before creating two break chances. But Nadal stepped up to thwart Murray and converted his fifth match point in two hours and 44 minutes.
"The match overall was a pretty good match," Murray said. "There were a few things I would have liked to have done differently out there. The third didn't get off to the best start. Then obviously had a few opportunities in that last game to try to make it a bit more interesting, but couldn't quite get the break."
Nadal improved to a 57-4 record in Monte-Carlo as he reached the final for the 10th time. From 2005, he won 46 straight matches here before losing to Djokovic in the 2013 final.
"I am what I am today. I'm in the final of Monte-Carlo. That's great news," Nadal said. "Rafael Nadal of 2016 will not be the same of 2009 or 2008 again. Every year is different. Every feeling is different."
The Mallorcan is bidding to win his first ATP World Tour title since July 2015, when he captured the clay-court crown in Hamburg. He started his 2016 campaign with a runner-up showing in Doha (l. to Djokovic) and subsequently reached semi-finals in Buenos Aires (l. to Thiem), Rio de Janeiro (l. to Cuevas) and Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic).
The 28-year-old Murray was looking to reach the final at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the first time, after losing to Nadal at the semi-final stage in 2009 and 2011. Murray made his clay-court breakthrough last season, winning his first two titles on the dirt in Munich (d. Kohlschreiber) and at the Masters 1000 in Madrid, where he beat Nadal.
"He's one of the best, if not the best ever, on this surface," Murray said. "At times today, he played very well. When he does, you can't always decide the outcome. He played some good stuff today and deserved to win."
If he is to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, Monfils will need to overturn a 2-11 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Nadal. Nadal has won their past three meetings, with Monfils’ last victory over the Spaniard coming four years ago in the Doha semi-finals.
"The basis of my game is to be aggressive from the baseline and not step back," Monfils said. "I will need to make adjustments. I will need to do something different. I don't know exactly what. But the most important thing will be for me to recuperate tonight because I need to feel good physically tomorrow if I want to make it difficult for him."
Monfils is through to his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, after runner-up showings in Paris in 2009 (l. to Djokovic) and 2010 (l. to Soderling), and has done so without dropping a set.
The 13th seed carried his rich vein of form into the semi-finals and dominated the first set, allowing Tsonga just seven return points and breaking his countryman four times to seal the opener. Trailing 1-6, 1-4, Tsonga mounted a fightback, breaking Monfils to love to bring the score back to 3-4. But Monfils immediately reclaimed his lead with a break in the eighth game and served out victory in 70 minutes. "I have no excuse for the way I played today," Tsonga said.
He added that his knee, which had bothered him earlier in the week, was feeling better thanks to the on-site medical staff. "My forehand was out by 10 centimeters and I can't explain why," he said.
Tsonga had battled past Roger Federer in Friday’s quarter-finals and dropped to a 14-7 mark on the season. The 30-year-old Frenchman also fell in the Monte-Carlo semi-finals in 2013, losing out to Nadal on that occasion.
"The week was positive," Tsonga said. "Sometimes, of course, things don't go your way, and this is what happened today. But I'm happy for Gael. He's playing very well right now."
Monfils will contest his second ATP World Tour final of the season after finishing runner-up to Martin Klizan in Rotterdam. In a strong start to 2016, the right-hander also reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic) and the Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Nishikori). He has a 5-18 record in ATP World Tour finals.
Monfils will look to become the first French champion in Monte-Carlo since Cedric Pioline in 2000.
Rafael Nadal discusses his three set semifinal victory over Andy Murray on Saturday at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch Hot Shot as Rafael Nadal finds the forehand pass against Andy Murray. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch Hot Shot as Rafael Nadal outmaneuvers Andy Murray in Monte-Carlo. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images
Murray caps a 26-shot rally with a mesmerising backhand drop shot from the baseline. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Jamie Murray ensured he will stay atop the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings on Monday as he and Bruno Soares defeated Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
It was all to play for in the semi-final, as Melo had the chance to regain top spot had he and Dodig, the 2014 Monte-Carlo runners-up, claimed the win. But fourth seeds and Australian Open champions Murray and Soares dominated the encounter, advancing to their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final together.
The British/Brazilian duo surged into a 5-1 lead before sealing the opener. They broke Dodig and Melo in the ninth game of the second set and served out victory on their third match point in 68 minutes.
"I knew what the situation was with the match," said Murray. "But if we didn't win the match, it wasn't going to be the end of the world, I'd already got to No. 1. We played really well. We really controlled the match for the most part. They came back into it well in the second set and we got through a couple of tricky moments. But we did really well from start to finish."
"It's not easy playing Melo," said Soares. "We're very good friends. We're from the same city. Grew up together. He was the best man at my wedding. But we've played each other 12 or 13 times on tour. It's a bit awkward. It's a strange feeling. But it's better to do it in the semi-final than in a first round."
While Murray is through to his first Masters 1000 final, Soares will challenge for his third title at this level, having won back-to-back titles in Canada in 2013-14 with former long-term partner Alexander Peya.
"I haven't don’t particularly well in Masters 1000s full stop," said Murray. "To get to my first final is another stepping stone. In the Masters 1000s, you know from the first ball you're going to have to play either the best doubles teams in the world or the best singles players. We're excited to be in the final."
In the final, Murray and Soares will face French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Herbert and Mahut are looking to win their third Masters 1000 trophy of the season after victories in Indian Wells and Miami. They are only the second team since 2001 (Bjorkman/Woodbridge) to reach the final of all three Masters 1000 tournaments at the start of the season (Bryans, 2014).
Herbert and Mahut defeated Jean Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(7), 6-4 in one hour and 32 minutes. Cabal and Farah served for the first set at 6-5, but could not close it out as the French duo fought back to steal the opener. Herbert and Mahut then broke to start the second set and never looked back.
Watch highlights as Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut and Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares prevail. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
The semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Saturday feature No. 2 Andy Murray against No. 5 Rafael Nadal and No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against No. 13 Gael Monfils in an all-French match-up. This is the first time since 1988 two Frenchmen have reached the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo (Yannick Noah l. to Lendl, Thierry Tulasne l. to Martin Jaite). The last French finalist and winner here was Cedric Pioline in 2000 (d. Hrbaty).
In the first match on Court Rainier III, No. 4 seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares meet No. 2 Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. Murray and Soares, who are No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings after winning titles in Sydney and the Australian Open in January, come in with a 16-3 match record on the season. Dodig and Melo are appearing in their first semi-final this year. Murray, who became No. 1 in the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings on Apr. 4, is trying to stay on top. Melo is No. 2 and if he wins the match (w/Dodig), the Brazilian will regain No. 1 on Monday.
In the first singles match, Nadal and Murray meet for the 23rd time (Nadal leads 16-6) and the eighth time on clay (Nadal leads 6-1). This is their third meeting in this round in Monte-Carlo and the Spaniard won the previous two in 2009 and 2011. Nadal is appearing in the semi-finals for the 11th time in 12 years (except 2014) and he is 9-1 in SF matches. Last year he lost to Djokovic in SF. He has a tournament-best 56-4 career record with a tourney record eight straight titles from 2005 to 2012. The 29-year-old Spaniard is also trying to reach his 100th career ATP World Tour level final (67-32) and 42nd in an ATP Masters 1000 event (27-14). Murray is making his third semi-final appearance here (2009, 2011) and he’s trying to reach his third career clay court final (2-0). Last year he won back-to-back clay titles in Munich (d. Kohlschreiber) and ATP Masters 1000 Madrid (d. Nadal). He is 11-5 in Masters 1000 finals.
In the next match on, friends Monfils and Tsonga square off for the seventh time on the ATP World Tour, the first on clay. Tsonga has a 4-2 head-to-head advantage (all on hard courts) but Monfils won the last meeting in the 3R at ATP Masters 1000 Miami last year. Monfils is making his second straight semi-final showing in Monte-Carlo and he’s trying to advance to his third career ATP Masters 1000 final. He was runner-up in Paris-Bercy in 2009-10. Monfils has not dropped a set in four matches, holding serve 31 of 35 games, while leading the tournament in return games won (53%). Tsonga is appearing in the semi-finals here for the first time since 2013 and the 30-year-old Frenchman (turns 31 on Sunday) is trying to advance to his first career clay court final on the ATP World Tour.
Kei Nishikori is fully focused on trying to claim his third consecutive title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, but is adopting a unique approach for taking in the city’s picturesque views.
The World No. 6 joined local favourite Nicolas Almagro on Friday to hit a few balls on a mini-tennis court set up on an MSC cruise ship. On Monday morning, Nishikori will play a mini-tennis match with Rafael Nadal at the top of Tibidabo mountain, known for its views overlooking Barcelona.
“I am happy to be back in Barcelona. I feel good and hope to win my third consecutive title here,” said Nishikori, shortly before his first training session at the Real Club Tenis Barcelona 1899. “I love Barcelona. The view of the city from the ocean is fantastic.
Nishikori is looking to become just the third player to three-peat at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Only Nadal and Mats Wilander have accomplished the feat so far.
The top spot in the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings is on the line this week after second seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, and fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, won their quarter-final matches on Friday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
Dodig and Melo will now square off against Murray and Soares in a semi-final match on Saturday. Should the second seeds prevail, Melo will overtake Murray as No. 1 when the newest Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings are released on Monday.
Dodig and Melo continued through strong form with a dominant victory over Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi, 6-4, 6-4. A lone break of serve in each set was all the 2014 finalists in Monte-Carlo needed as the pair saved all three break points against them in the match.
"We are very, very happy with how we played again. We tried to play as aggressively as we could and tried to do our best,” said Melo. “We are really looking forward for the next match and hope everything goes well to play another final here in Monte-Carlo."
Murray and Soares needed exactly one hour to dispatch No. 6 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florian Mergea, 6-2, 6-3. They also saved all three break points against them in the match while landing an impressive 84 per cent of first serves in play.
"Playing Dodig and Melo is a very tough match. They've been playing extremely well for so many years. They play well on clay. But the toughest part is playing a good friend,” said Soares. “It's never easy for me to play against Marcelo, but we both know that can happen. So we're just going to go on court, try and forget about that and try to play our best tennis. The good thing is that it's great for Brazil that we're going to have someone in the finals."
Third seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut extended their winning streak to 12 matches, saving a match point in their quarter-final to defeat Dominic Inglot and Andy Murray, 6-4, 3-6, [12-10]. The British duo erased a 4-8 deficit in the match tie-break and even held a match point at 10-9, but the French pair fought back to take the final three points of the match. Herbert and Mahut are looking to win their third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in succession after victories in Indian Wells and Miami.
They will now play the unseeded pairing of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who won their quarter-final over Henri Kontinen and John Peers, 6-4, 6-4. The Colombian pair are looking to win their first-ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
"We felt very good out there today," said Farah. "We were returning at a high level and always putting a lot of pressure on their serves. We are very happy to be back in the semis of a Masters 1000 event."
Federer stormed through the first set against eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and came within two points of winning the match at 5-4 in the third set. But after undergoing left knee surgery in February to repair a torn meniscus, the Swiss star is simply happy to be playing at a high level again.
“I thought I was going to win the match maybe after the first set. I thought I was going to win the match maybe [at] the beginning of the third. But that doesn't matter really,” he said. “It was a good match. It was nice to play an intense match. I'm happy [with] how the body reacted. So many good things this week. It's all positive for me.
“Number one, it's good to play a tournament after having had surgery. Number two, it was good to play one match. It was good to have a match with a rest, then to play again. Now it was good to play back-to-back, yesterday and today. Then it was good to play 2 hours 10 [minutes] today.”
The brief break from the tour has also rejuvenated Federer and left him as motivated as he’s ever been to put in long hours on the court. Even just after his loss, he was already thinking about his practice schedule.
“The pre-tournament stuff I was able to do, I trained really hard. My fitness coach was here. We practised well on the tennis court, as well. It's been a really good past couple of weeks now for me, so I'm very happy,” said Federer.
“I hope my knee and my body are going to be okay the next couple of days. If I'm good, I might go practise tomorrow as well just to get the body into a rhythm of playing four days straight at a very intense level. If I feel like I need a break, the team tells me to rest, I'll do that tomorrow."
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Federer is that this is only his first tournament of the clay-court season. Although he’s unsure of his tournament schedule leading into Roland Garros, the World No. 3 expects to be in peak form by the time he arrives in Paris.
“I'm returning a lot better. It's better than other beginnings of the clay-court season,” he said. “I don't know if it's because of the new racquet. I'll have to keep that and my serve will come as I play more matches.”
Watch doubles highlights from the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters quarter-finals. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.