Nervy Monfils reaches Paris final, faces Djokovic
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:50
Novak Djokovic will face Gael Monfils in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters 1000 after the Parisian regrouped to beat Radek Stepanek 6-4 5-7 6-4.
Monfils had served for the match at 5-4 but choked with the finish line in sight as the Czech broke twice to take the semi-final to a decider.
But, backed by a hopeful home crowd the No.15 seed was not to be denied, breaking in game nine of the final set before serving out the match, sparking wild celebrations from the partisan crowd.
“I was maybe thinking too much about the final and I lost my concentration at times but I never really doubted,” said Monfils. “Playing a final in France is a special occasion. Now I have to live up to it.”
He will have his work cut out against an inspired Novak Djokovic, who ruthlessly exposed the cracks in Rafael Nadal’s game with a 6-2 6-3 win earlier in the day.
The world No.3, who beat Roger Federer in last week’s Swiss Indoors final in Basel, was virtually flawless as he ended Nadal’s hopes of a first title since May and broke to love in game six to seize control of the match.
Nadal, struggling with his serve throughout, was broken to love two games later to drop the first set as Djokovic closed it out with a return winner.
The Serb remained untouchable at the start of the second, winning the next two games to love as the Spaniard was unable to stay with him.
Nadal could find no way back, and Djokovic sealed victory with a emphatic forehand winner on the first match point after just 76 minutes.
“There’s not much to say about today’s performance, except that it was perfect,” said Djokovic. “It went exactly the way I wanted.
“Tactically, I did everything I wanted to do before the match. I was very aggressive, took early control of the match and it paid off.
“Today was one of those days when you feel everything is going right, everything is working for you.”
Nadal was full of praise for the Serb. “I’ve never played against Djokovic when he’s been at this level before,” said the Australian Open champion. “He played very well, unbelievable in my opinion.
“When Novak plays at that level it’s very difficult to play him, especially on a hard, fast court.”