Gael Monfils wins back to back Rotterdam titles. Photo ATP Tour Ltd
Gael Monfils is off to a flyer in 2020 as the Frenchman won his second ATP trophy in two weeks and doubled up his haul at the Rotterdam Open.
The ninth-ranked 33-year-old had to hold off a spirited fightback late in the second set from talented Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The youngster ranked 21st saved four Monfils match points while trailing a set and 5-2, breaking the third seed to stay alive.
But two games later, Monfils was finally hoisting the trophy after putting away the win on his fifth opportunity.
Monfils won the Dutch event a year ago when he beat Stan Wawrinka for the title.
He also took the honours last weekend at home in Montpellier with a defeat of Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who had used his country’s famed maple syrup at a pick-me-up tonic during changeovers during the French week.
“It’s two been weeks of unbelievable for us, we’ve been working hard…but we have bigger goals, so I hope it’s the beginning of something for this season,” Monfils said.
“I’m super-happy, definitely it’s been an amazing week for me. Thanks to Rotterdam for the beautiful energy.”
The Frenchman is setting his sights higher after February success.
The 33-year-old is still dreaming of winning a Masters 1000 title – or even perhaps a Grand Slam. “Before the season, I wanted to stay in the Top 10,” he said, “maybe try to reach fifth or sixth.
“I want to try and reach the final in a Masters 1000 and try to win one. The dream is also to win a Slam, that’s what i play and train for, Maybe one day I can do that.
“But I need to keep healthy, be 100 per cent and keep believing that Ii can make it.”
The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime salvaged four match points while trailing a set and 5-2 as he broke Monfils before finally going down to defeat two games later.
Monfils has now claimed nine straight ATP victories this month and owns 10 career trophies.
Auger-Aliassime, who first played the tournament in 2018, was pleased with his week but admitted he had his doubts in the heat of the moment on court.
The Canadian has now lost all four of his ATP finals following defeats in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart in 2019.
He was also a member of the Canadian side which lost to Spain in last year’s Davis Cup final.
“Gael defended well and made me play,” the finalist said, “i started to get a few doubt,ts on how I wanted to play.
“Things got tougher and tougher both physically and mentally.I was tying to survive and win one more point – but at a certain point I was just too far behind.”
Rotterdam has been won seven times by French players, with the two of Monfils matching the same output from compatriot Nicolas Escude in 2001-2002.