World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won his first title of the season at the ATP Doha.
You can watch & bet on ATP Doha live at 365 > live streaming > tennis
Top seed Rafael Nadal was the Qatar ExxonMobil Open champion in 2014. The World No. 1 defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils in the final.
It was the first time in his career that Nadal had won an ATP World Tour title in the first week of the season.Rafael Nadal (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Following his victory, Nadal, who has won titles in 17 different countries said:
“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."
The top seed marched ahead to gain a 5-0 lead over the unseeded Frenchman, as the Monfils was only able to gain the single game in the first set that lasted only 23 minutes.
Monfils came out firing in the second set, as the tables turned and it was the Frenchman who marched to a 3-0 lead. But in typical fashion, the gritty World No. 1 was not going to watch the set go by so easily and he equaled the score at 6-6 as he pushed Monfils to a tiebreaker. Gael Monfils (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
But Monfils still had a few tricks up his sleeve as he managed to serve out the second set, with an ace on his third set point in the tiebreak and took 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 final set as Nadal proved too strong and broke his serve in the fourth game. But then it was Nadal himself, who was forced to save three break point of his own in the subsequent game. The Spaniard managed to save them all and consolidated his lead to 4-2.
Despite Monfil’s incredible ability to generate power on his serve, serving 13 aces for the match, Nadal was able to handle the pressure as he adjusted his return position and retreated to a few metres further back on the baseline. The 13-time Grand Slam champion eventually prevailed, taking the deciding set 6-3 with the help of 43 unforced errors from the Frenchman. It was the first time Nadal had won the title in India.
"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’s route to the final was not an easy one as he was forced to work hard to overcome Ernest Gulbis in the quarter-finals. The 27-year-old Spaniard trailed 0-3 in the second set before clinching victory. He 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 clash against Monfils in the final.
Monfils, on the other hand, enjoyed a more successful pathway to the final, as he did not drop a set en route. He also defeated defending champion Richard Gasquet in the second round.
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.
Organisers will be hoping that Nadal will be back to defend his title in 2015 and that Monfils will also return to compete.