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Monfils, Melzer and Kukushkin triumph

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Originally published on: 31/10/10 18:06

Gael Monfils, Jurgen Melzer and Mikhail Kukushkin each triumphed on home soil to wrap up the three ATP World Tour 250 titles on offer this week.

In Vienna, Jurgen Melzer defended his Bank Austria TennisTrophy, but not before receiving a stern test from fellow Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer, eventually prevailing 6-7(10) 7-6(4) 6-4 in a match that crept beyond two hours 45 minutes.

Haider-Maurer, the world No.157 who reached the main draw as a lucky loser and knocked out 43-year-old Austrian former world No.1 Thomas Muster in the first round, found himself on the verge of an improbable victory when he served at 5-4 in the second set, but a footfault and a pair of double-faults offered Melzer a chance for redemption.

Melzer, the 29-year-old world No.12, immediately seized the initiative, clinching the second set in a second tiebreak before sealing the dramatic final on his first match point to remain in contention for a spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

In St Petersburg, Mikhail Youzhny’s hopes for a spot at season finale at The O2 were dented as he slipped to a 6-3 7-6(2) defeat at the hands of first-time titlist Mikhail Kukushkin.

Russian-born Kazakhstani Kukushkin, the fifth man to claim a maiden title in 2010, raced through the first set with two breaks before fighting back from a break down twice in the second set before clinching the tiebreak to seal victory.

The result is a blow to Youzhny, who at No.10 in the year-to-date rankings is just one spot ahead of Melzer. The Russian US Open semi-finalist is bidding to reach the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time.

Gael Monfils is the toast of Montpellier tonight after downing Ivan Ljubicic 6-2 5-7 6-1 to seal his first title of the season.

French No.2 Monfils, who beat national No.1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals, surviving a lapse in concentration in the second set against No.4 seed Ljubicic to prevail in just under two hours.

While Monfils’ chances of reaching the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals remain slim, the world No.15 will welcome the impressive form with France’s Davis Cup final against Serbia just weeks away.

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