Monfils, Simon, Kyrgios capture first-week titles

A pair of Frenchmen captured season-opening titles on Saturday. Both unseeded, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon lifted respective trophies at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha and the Tata Open in Pune. Monfils, who got a semifinal walkover from an ill Dominic Thiem, cruised past Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-3. Simon took down second-seeded Kevin Anderson 7-6(4), 6-2.

Despite being 6-20 lifetime in ATP finals and having not played since the U.S. Open last summer due to injury, Monfils was an obvious favorite heading into the title match against Rublev. After all, the 20-year-old Russian battled Guido Pella for two hours and 25 minutes on Friday while saving one match point en route to a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) victory. Rublev did not have much left in the tank for Monfils, who rolled in exactly one hour.

“I’m very happy,” the world No. 46 commented. “I like this tournament so much. I always come back and I finally got it. So I’m just very happy and very proud. It’s been a while. I was waiting for that moment to get back in shape. In 2016, I was almost on my top and I had a very good year, finishing at No. 6. I couldn’t really defend my chances in 2017. I had a long rest and came back strong in 2018, which was a goal. I wouldn’t say I was expecting to win the first tournament, but I’m more than happy that I did.”

Doha final highlights:

Simon made it a French sweep on Saturday when he upset Anderson in one hour and 36 minutes. Like Monfils, the 33-year-old endured a dreadful 2017 campaign–although he could make no injury excuse for his poor form. From basically out of nowhere, Simon dominated in Pune from start to finish while dropping only one set the entire way (to Marin Cilic, whom he ended up trouncing 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals).

“It was a great match; I think a great performance,” Simon assessed. “I never beat Kevin before so to be able to beat him in the final is a great achievement for me. It’s so hard to feel comfortable against him because he has a huge serve and is really controlling the game, but I managed to stay calm on my side and to just play my game.”

Pune final highlights:

At the Brisbane International, Nick Kyrgios secured the fourth ATP title of his career and first since 2016 he beat Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday evening. Kyrgios fired 17 aces compared to only one double-fault and saved all five of the break points he faced.

“I felt good all week,” the 22-year-old Australian reflected. “I felt right at home. Every time I stepped out here, you (the fans) gave me such great support. I love playing in front of you guys even though sometimes it may not seem that way. But I do. I really appreciate it.”

Brisbane final highlights:

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