Frenchmen Simon and Monfils Start 2018 With ATP Titles
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Nick Kyrgios claimed ATP title #4 and his first ever in Australia defeating Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2. Kyrgios overcame questions about the fitness of his leg early in the week, he needed three sets against Matt Ebden, Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Grigor Dimitrov. Despite the shaky start, Kyrhios improved as the week went on and really pressed the gas pedal when he needed it to start the season. Kyrgios continues to be a player of much promise, and now he heads to the Australian Open brimming with confidence, back in the ATP top 20, and hopefully fit.
Harrison continued his resurgence at age 25, he dropped sets against Leo Mayer and Yannick Hanfmann but won the third set with ease in both matches, then he defeated Denis Istomin and surging young Aussie Alex De Minaur, winning that match in three sets by taking a second set tiebreak and a 6-4 3rd set. Harrison reached 2 ATP finals last season and he’s already halfway to that number in the first week of 2018.
Henri Kontinen and Australia’s own John Peers beat Leo Mayer/Horacio Zeballos in the doubles final.
Gael Monfils won his first title since 2016 with a comprehensive 6-2 6-3 victory against young gun Andrey Rublev in the Doha final. Monfils got a walkover in the semis against Dominic Thiem, and despite dropping sets to Paolo Lorenzi and J.L. Struff, he seemed to kick the cobwebs off his game pretty quickly, defeating Peter Gojowczyk in straights in the quarters and then taking it to Rublev, who’s shotmaking was erratic when it mattered most. Monfils only made one final last year so he’s already matched that in 2018.
Rublev reached a second career ATP final and picked up 2018 where he left off in 2017. The young Russian found his range against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Fernando Verdasco, Borna Coric, and Guido Pella, winning tough matches against both Verdasco and Pella. He’s now a trendy dark horse at the Australian Open.
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic beat Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares in the doubles final.
33 year old Gilles Simon turned back the clock and had his best week on tour in quite some time, taking home the title in Pune 7-6 6-2 over in-form South African Kevin Anderson. It’s Simon’s first title since 2015 and gives him renewed hope and confidence in his tennis after winning just 16 matches last year. Simon beat Tennys Sandgren, Roberto Bautista Agut, Ricardo Lara, and top seed Marin Cilic, that semifinal win coming in three sets as he was a brick wall against Cilic’s powerful groundstrokes.
Simon isn’t the most exciting player to watch, but he was impenetrable against some big hitters, Anderson being one of them. Kev beat Thiago Monteiro, Mikhail Kukushkin, and Benoit Paire, dropping sets to Kukushkin and Paire but still reaching the final. It’s Anderson’s first final since last year’s US Open.
Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Simon in the doubles final, denying Simon a coveted double title result.