Seldom do we reckon the classics played between average players in the ATP World Series when live examples of the same are delivered nearly every now and then. The finals between Gael Monfils and Ivo Karlovic at the Citi Open 2016 holds as a living proof.
After going winless over the last 2 years, little did Monfils expect to overcome the strong server, Ivo Karlovic who was eyeing his first Citi Open title. Monfils came from the dead after closing the first set to win the tournament 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, this Sunday afternoon at the Rock Creek Tennis Center. Monfils is a player to reckon with who, whenever plays at the Citi Open, impresses enough to leave a mark of style and elegance. In 2007, after losing to John Isner in the semifinals, Monfils returned in 2011, and lost in the finals to Radek Stepanek. Five years later, Monfils, 29, is back. And this time, he’s the fortunate winner.
“It’s a special moment for me, to be honest,” Monfils said, “today was pure luck.” after the victory over the 6’11” giant Croatian. The said remark comes right after he broke Karlovic when he was serving for the championship title, and holding a record for not being broken this entire week. On the tiebreaker, Karlovic, who was one point from victory at 6-5, lost to a 116-mph powered serve by Monfils. A couple points later, Monfils owned the set, and he broke again to lead 2-1 in the third. “At the end, I knew a little bit that it’s tough to serve and volley for two hours in the heat.”
Monfils takes home $348,200 in prize money for his first title since February 2014 at Montpellier, France. Combined with powerful backhands and sweet returns to serves, Monfils won his first title since 2014, and the inaugural on US soil. The ATP 500 series is ought to boost the Frenchman’s moral ahead of the Rio Olympics.