Updated: Reflecting on Benneteau’s 10 final losses

Julien Benneteau, still without an ATP title, lost his 10th final on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. This is an update of a Feb. 18, 2013 article published after Benneteau fell to 0-8 in ATP finals by losing to Juan Martin Del Potro last year in Rotterdam.

With Benneteau’s loss to Kei Nishikori in the Malaysian Open final on Sunday, it’s time to take a look back at the Frenchman’s 10 losses in title matches (ranked from least to most heartbreaking):

10) 2008 Casablanca (first final): lost to Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-2

This was Benneteau’s first opportunity and it came against a fellow Frenchman at tournament that was small even by small-tournament standards. After losing his first final, Benneteau probably assumed he would have many more chances. If so, he was right….

second-set highlights:

9) 2008 Lyon (second final): lost to Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1

Benneteau’s second title match was his first against an outsider opponent. You can be sure Benneteau badly wanted to win this one in front of a French crowd against a relatively disliked Swede, and he came close. Still, it was just his second final and Benneteau was a considerable underdog against one of the best indoor hard-court players in the world.

last game of the match:

8) 2010 Marseille (fourth final): lost to Michael Llodra 6-3, 6-4

This could not have been too devastating, in part because it came at the hands of a friend and occasional doubles partner. Furthermore, Benneteau had upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a third-set tiebreaker after two hours and 57 minutes one day earlier. His chances against Llodra were not good, to say the least.

match highlights:

7) 2013 Rotterdam (eighth final): lost to Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6(2), 6-3

Losing an eighth final in a row can’t be easy, but at this point is it any worse than—say—No. 5 or No. 6 or No. 7? As sad is this sounds, the losses probably just blend together now. Benneteau had a lead in the first set and took it to a tiebreaker, but Del Potro was a heavy favorite and simply took care of business.

Benneteau interview after loss:

6) 2014 Kuala Lumpur (10th final): lost to Kei Nishikori 7-6(4), 6-4

By default, the 10th one has to be tough, simply because it’s just that: No. 10. The difference between 0-9 and 0-10 just looks way worse on paper than the mere one more loss it indicates. That being said, this was always going to be tough proposition for Benneteau. Nishikori, one of 2014’s best players from the start, was coming off a runner-up performance at the U.S. Open. The Japanese star might as well have been playing at home, too, given the crowd support he enjoyed in Kuala Lumpur. All in all, Benneteau accounted himself well and had already accomplished much by reaching the final after an impressive third-set escape against Pablo Cuevas in the quarters.

match highlights:

5) 2012 Sydney (sixth final): lost to Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-5

match highlights:

After five previous final losses, Benneteau had to think his time had come last year in Sydney. Nieminen is a tough opponent, to be sure, but you cannot ask for a much better draw in an ATP title match. This had to be a tough loss for Benneteau to accept, but perhaps it helped that this was all Nieminen right from the start. The Frenchman never came close this time around.

4) 2009 Kitzbuhel (third final): lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-3

Playing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the final is like having a title handed to you on a silver platter. Benneteau came tantalizingly close, winning the first set and taking the second to a ‘breaker (he never had a championship point, and he actually saved two set points to force the second-set tiebreaker). If this had been, for example, his eighth final it would have been unbearable.

match recap

3) 2011 Winston-Salem (fifth final): lost to John Isner 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

You could tell that this is the one Benneteau thought he was going to win. Isner is always difficult, especially on American hard courts, but his matches are often toss-ups and the Hurricane-like conditions leveled the playing field. The underdog even led by a set, but he could not hold on. After the handshake, Benneteau slumped on his bench and sobbed.

match recap

2) 2012 Kuala Lumpur (seventh final): lost to Juan Monaco 7-5, 4-6, 6-3

Seventh heaven for Benneteau, right? He had the experience of six previous finals and was getting to face an Argentine on an indoor hard court. Surely this was his time. It wasn’t, and the fact that it lasted more than three hours could not have helped the Frenchman’s psyche. It’s matches like this one that make you wonder if it is ever going to happen for you.

match highlights:

1) 2013 Kuala Lumpur (ninth final): lost to Joao Sousa 2-6, 7-5, 6-4

In 10 finals, Benneteau has held exactly one championship point. It came against Sousa in the Frenchman’s second of three consecutive Kuala Lumpur title matches, with the Portuguese player serving down a set and 4-5, 30-40 in the second. Perhaps it only adds to the heartbreak that Benneteau constructed the point perfectly only to see Sousa deliver an incredible forehand pass. That proved to be the turning point, as Benneteau never really recovered despite making the third set somewhat competitive. A ninth final, against an unseeded opponent, on an arguably favorable surface (indoor hard), and one point from the title…. It just does not get any more brutal.

Benneteau’s championship point:

2 Comments on Updated: Reflecting on Benneteau’s 10 final losses

  1. That’s a pretty sad story all the way around…but on the other hand, at least he has made it TEN ATP Finals…that’s a lot more than most of us can brag about!

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