Rafael Nadal wins his first title in India at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open defeating Gael Monfils in the final.
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World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won the Qatar ExxonMobil Open tournament in 2014 defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils in three sets in the final. It was the first time in Nadal’s career that he was able to win an ATP World Tour title in the first week of the season.
"Every victory is important and the title today means a lot to me. It is the first time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That's always important,” Nadal, who has won titles in 17 different countries said.
The Spaniard cruised through the opening set as he marched ahead to a 5-0 lead over the unseeded Frenchman. Monfils was only able to score the one single game in the first set that lasted only 23 minutes.
Rafael Nadal (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
But the World No. 32 came out firing in the second set, as the tables turned and it was the Monfils who stormed to a 3-0 lead. But in typical fashion, the gritty World No. 1 could not be underestimated and Nadal quickly equaled the score at 6-6.
Monfils still had a few tricks up his sleeve and he managed to serve out the second set with an ace on his third set point in the tiebreak, taking the match to a decider.
"Rafa put pressure on me from the first point. He was very aggressive from the first game and it was tougher for me to adjust. [In the second set] I tried to play with more power and stronger," Monfils said reflecting on the opening sets.
The Frenchman’s intensity dwindled in the deciding set as Nadal proved too strong and broke his serve in the fourth game. The top seed then faced some break points of his own in the subsequent game as he trailed 0-40 in his service game, but Nadal managed to save them all and consolidated his lead to 4-2.
Gael Monfils (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Monfil’s ability to generate power on his serves save him serve 13 aces for the match. Nadal also adjusted his return position and retreated to a few metres further back on the baseline. But despite Monfil’s gallant efforts it was the 13-time Grand Slam champion who eventually prevailed, winning the deciding set 6-3 with the help of 43 unforced errors from the Frenchman.
"It's always tough to play against him and at the end he was a bit better than me today...I will still work hard and I will be confident the first day in Australia," Monfils said after the match ahead of the Australian Open later that month.
Nadal was made to work hard for his finals appearance as he scraped through the third round in three sets against Tobias Kamke and then faced a challenging battle against Ernest Gulbis in the quarter-finals. The 27-year-old Spaniard trailed 0-3 in the second set before clinching victory.
"He's a player you don't want to meet because he hits every ball very hard with a very strong serve, first and second serve. Then he hits every ball very, very, very fast from the baseline, forehand/backhand, so he's a difficult player to play against," Nadal said.
Nadal also had a tough victory over Peter Gojowczyk in the semi-finals as he fought from a set down against the 24-year-old to steal victory in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and set up the final against Monfils.
The Frenchman, on the other hand, enjoyed a more successful route to the final, as he did not drop a set on his way. He also defeated defending champion Richard Gasquet in the second round in straight sets.
Nadal’s win over Monfils was the first time the Spaniard had defeated Monfils in three attempts at the tournament in Doha. The top seed had previously lost to him in the quarter-finals in 2009 and the semi-finals in 2012 respectively.
The win marked the first time Nadal had won the title in India. Organisers will be hoping that Nadal will be back to defend his title in 2015 and that Monfils will also return to compete.