Gael Monfils in action during the Qatar Open final in Doha, on January 6, 2018
Doha (AFP) - France’s Gael Monfils won the Qatar Open final in straight sets on Saturday, brushing aside Russia’s Andrey Rublev in a one-sided final, 6-2, 6-3.
It was the Frenchman’s first Qatar title despite having played in three previous finals, stretching back more than a decade, and he is the first wildcard to win in Doha since compatriot Nicolas Escude triumphed back in 2004.
“I’m very happy, I like this tournament so much, you know,” he told reporters afterwards.
“I always come back. And I was very close and finally get it. So I’m just very happy and very proud.”
Saturday’s victory was his seventh victory overall on the ATP tour.
The 31-year-old, who arrived in Qatar after a four-month break due to a knee injury, dominated throughout.
He broke Rublev’s serve in the fourth game of each set and barely look troubled by the Russian, who has been so impressive all week but could not cope with the power of Monfils.
The world number 46 took the first set in just 23 minutes, and in the second was able to save two break points in the fifth game after establishing a 3-1 lead – the only time the Frenchman’s serve was put under pressure.
Monfils needed only one championship point to secure the match after exactly an hour on court.
He said he had been “unlucky” with injuries and was looking to recapture the form that propelled him to a ranking of world number six back in 2016.
“It was in 2016 I was almost on top and I had a very good year, finished sixth, and couldn’t really defend my chances in 2017,” added Monfils.
“I had a long rest and (to) come back strong in 2018 was a goal.”
Rublev looked crestfallen afterwards but has the consolation that he will be seeded at the forthcoming Australian Open and has enhanced his growing reputation with his performances this week.
He went in to Saturday’s final as the world ranked number 39 but that will rise to at least 33 after Doha and will be seeded at the Australian Open in only his second appearance in Melbourne because of injuries to other players.
Monfils had previously lost in Doha in 2006, 2012 and 2014.
A ‘destroyed’ Rublev said afterwards that he felt too tired to compete at the same level on Saturday as the rest of the week.
“He was much fresher, moving much better than me, missing less,” said the young Russian.
“I think I was completely tired today, you could see in my shots.”