Sunday, 14 November 2010

Paris Masters Final Preview

After thrilling semi-final matches in which they saved match points to win, Robin Soderling and Gael Monfils are the last two players standing at the BNP Paribas Masters, and they will duke it out Sunday, both hoping to win their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. This is the first time both finalists at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament are looking for their first Masters 1000 title since Paris in 2006 when Nikolay Davydneko beat Dominik Hrbaty in the final.

Soderling leads the head-to-head series, 2-0, recording routine straight-set wins against Monfils in Milan in 2005 and Valencia last week (both indoors). In last week's quarter-final match, Soderling broke three times (once in the first set, twice in the second set) and never faced a break point while winning 63 62 in 54 minutes.

Soderling, the No. 4 seed, saved three match points to beat Michael Llodra in the semi-finals, and is now in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (his best showings at this level had been semi-finals at Indian Wells and Miami earlier this year). He is the first Swede in 10 years to reach an ATP Masters 1000 final, the last being Thomas Enqvist at Cincinnati in August 2000 (Enqvist beat Tim Henman). The last Swede to reach the final in Bercy was Jonas Bjorkman in 1997 (l. to Sampras). The last Swedish winner here is Enqvist in 1996 (d. Kafelnikov). If Soderling wins this title, he will rise to a career-high No. 4 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings (passing Andy Murray).

Monfils, the No. 12 seed, has saved match points against two players this week - two against No. 6 seed Fernando Verdasco in the third round and five against top seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals. He also upset No. 3 seed Murray in three sets in the quarter-finals. He is playing in his second ATP Masters 1000 final. Last year he was runner-up to Novak Djokovic here. He is trying to become the fifth Frenchman since 1990 to win an ATP Masters 1000 title (after Guy Forget, Cedric Pioline, Sebastien Grosjean and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga). Tsonga is the last winner in Bercy two years ago while Grosjean won here in 2001 and Forget in 1991.

This is the second time in a month two players who both saved match points earlier in the week have made it all the way to the final. Last month in Tokyo, where Rafael Nadal (who saved match points against Viktor Troicki) beat Monfils (who saved match point against Andy Roddick). Both are trying to become the fifth player this year to capture a title after being match point down (after Nikolay Davydenko, John Isner, Sam Querrey - who has done it twice, and Nadal).

WHAT’S AT STAKE 

Winner: € 450,000 and 1,000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points
Runner-up: € 212,500 and 600 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points

FINALS HISTORY 

Monfils: Appearing in his 13th ATP World Tour final. He is 3-9 in finals (1-2 in 2010). Appearing in his 2nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. He is 0-1 in finals
Soderling: Appearing in his 16th ATP World Tour level final. He is 5-10 in finals (1-3 in 2010). Appearing in his 1st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final

2010 UPDATE

Six of the first eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments have been won by the top four players in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings – No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who captured titles in Monte-Carlo, Rome and Madrid, current No. 2 Roger Federer, who repeated in Cincinnati, and No. 4 Andy Murray, who captured titles in Toronto and Shanghai. Here is a look at the 2010 finals:

Tournament/Champion/Finalist

Indian Wells Ivan Ljubicic Andy Roddick
Miami Andy Roddick Tomas Berdych
Monte-Carlo Rafael Nadal Fernando Verdasco
Rome Rafael Nadal David Ferrer
Madrid Rafael Nadal Roger Federer
Toronto Andy Murray Roger Federer
Cincinnati Roger Federer Mardy Fish
Shanghai Andy Murray Roger Federer
Paris

Roland Garros & Bercy Finals 

Soderling is the fifth player to reach the Roland Garros and Bercy final in the same year. Here is a look at the players to accomplish the feat since 1986 when this tournament began:

Roland Garros Result Bercy Result

2010 – Robin Soderling lost to Rafael Nadal vs. Gael Monfils
2007 – Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer l. to David Nalbandian
1999 – Andre Agassi def. Andrei Medvedev def. Marat Safin
1996 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov def. Michael Stich lost to Thomas Enqvist
1989 – Stefan Edberg lost to Michael Chang lost to Boris Becker

WINNING A TITLE FROM MATCH POINT DOWN

The winner will become the fifth different player this year to win a title after saving match point. Monfils saved two match points in his third round win over Verdasco and five in the semi-finals vs. Federer while Soderling saved three match points in the semi-finals against Llodra. Sam Querrey has achieved the feat twice, so this would be the sixth overall time it will happen:

• Davydenko, Nikolay (Doha - saved 2 M.P. to beat Nadal in final)
• Isner, John (Auckland - saved 1 M.P. to beat Clement in final)
• Querrey, Sam (Belgrade - saved 1 M.P. to beat Isner in final)
• Querrey, Sam (Los Angeles - saved 1 M.P. to beat Tipsarevic in SFs, then 1 M.P. to beat Murray in final)
• Nadal, Rafael (Tokyo - saved 2 M.P. to beat Troicki in SFs)

SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP HEAD-TO-HEADS 

(12) Gael Monfils (FRA) vs (4) Robin Soderling (SWE) Soderling Leads 2-0

05 Milan (Italy) Carpet R16 Robin Soderling 6-3 6-4
10 Valencia (Spain) Hard QF Robin Soderling 6-3 6-2

Monfils

Soderling

Age (Birthdate)
24 (September 1, 1986)
26 (August 14, 1984)
Residence
Nyon, Switzerland
Monte Carlo, Monaco
ATP Ranking (Career-High)
No. 14 (No. 9 – March 2, 2009)
No. 5 (No. 5 – July 5, 2010)
2010 W-L Record (on Hard)
45-18 (35-12)

55-20 (37-13)

2010 Finals W-L
1-2
1-3
Career Finals W-L
3-9
5-10
Last ATP Final/Last ATP Title
’10 Montpellier/’10 Montpellier
‘10 Bastad/’10 Rotterdam
2010 Tie-Break W-L
19-15
12-9
Paris W-L (Best Result)
10-4 (Finalist – 2009-10)
10-4 (Final – 2010)
Coach
Roger Rasheed
Magnus Norman


MONFILS FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:

• The Frenchman is making his second straight final showing after defeating top seed and World No. 2 Roger Federer 76(7) 67(1) 76(4) in two hours, 41 minutes (saving five match points)…He also beat No. 4 Andy Murray 62 26 63 in the quarters…He opened the tournament with a 76(4) 64 win over German qualifier Benjamin Becker on Tuesday and then saved two match points in a 67(4) 76(2) 75 victory over No. 6 seed Fernando Verdasco in the third round on Thursday…Has a 10-4 career mark in Bercy

• Last year he reached his first final here, falling he lost to Novak Djokovic in a third set tie-break…Along the way he defeated No. 13 seed Radek Stepanek in the semi-finals, No. 12 seed Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals and countrymen Julien Benneteau and David Guez

2010 Highlights:

W: Montpellier (d Ljubicic); F: Stuttgart (l Montanes); Tokyo (l Nadal); SF: Brisbane (l Stepanek); Johannesburg (l Lopez); QF: Rotterdam (l Youzhny); Marseille (l Benneteau); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (l Nadal); Nice (l Starace); US Open (l Djokovic); Valencia (l Soderling)

2010 in Review:

• The No. 2 Frenchman (behind No. 13 Tsonga) is making his fourth ATP World Tour final appearance this season…He is 1-2 in finals…This is his second career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (’09 Paris)

• Has a 45-18 match record (most career wins) this year (35-12 on hard) and has won at least 40 matches for second straight year (42 in ’09)…Has a 4-5 mark this season against Top 10 opponents (18-31 in career)…He’s trying to post his fourth Top 10 win of the week for the first time in his career

• He is one of four French winners on the ATP World Tour this year, joining Michael Llodra-2, Richard Gasquet-1 and Gilles Simon-1

• Last week he was a quarter-finalist in Valencia (l. to Soderling) and the previous week he captured his first ATP World Tour title of the year and the third in his career (3-9) in Montpellier (d. Ljubicic)…In July, he was runner-up in Stuttgart (retired vs. Montanes - w/right ankle injury) and last month he reached the final in Tokyo (l. to Nadal)

• Was sidelined for two months between March and May w/left hand injury

• Began year at No. 13 and is now No. 14 (has hovered between No. 12 and No. 20 all season)

• Career-high is No. 9 (set March 2, 2009); has had 14 career weeks inside Top 10 (all within 15-week span between February 23 and June 7, 2009)

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 History:

• Has a 40-37 career match record and his best result was a runner-up in Paris last year (l. to Djokovic) and the semi-finals in Rome in ‘06 (d. No. 5 Roddick in QF, l. to No. 2 Nadal) and QFs in Madrid in ’08 and this year

Miscellaneous:

• In 2009, finished in Top 15 for second straight year; season highlighted by second career ATP World Tour title in Metz (d. Kohlschreiber in final) and making debut in Top 10

• His best Grand Slam result was the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2008 (l. to Federer) and following year he advanced to the quarter-finals in Paris (l. to Federer again)

FRENCH ATP MASTERS 1000 WINNERS 

Monfils is trying to become the fifth different Frenchman to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title (since 1990). Here are the French winners:

Guy Forget (2)
Sebastien Grosjean (1)
Cedric Pioline (1)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1)

SODERLING FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:

• The top Swede enters his first final with a 10-4 career mark…Has only dropped one set in posting wins over Gilles Simon 64 60, Stanislas Wawrinka 76(3) 63, No. 8 seed Andy Roddick 75 64 and unseeded Michael Llodra 67(0) 75 76(6), saving three match points…Has held serve 44 of 47 games (saving 12 of 15 break points) and hit 55 aces en route to the final, including 19 in semi-finals

• The last Swede to reach the final was Jonas Bjorkman in 1997 (l. to Sampras)…Thomas Enqvist is the last Swedish winner in 1996 (d. Kafelnikov)

• His previous best result was the quarter-finals in his debut in 2004 (l. to Mirnyi) and last year (l. to No. 3 Djokovic)

2010 Highlights:

W: Rotterdam (d Youzhny); F: Barcelona (l Verdasco); Roland Garros (l Nadal); Båstad (l Almagro); SF: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l Roddick); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l Berdych); Valencia (l Ferrer); QF: Marseille (l Llodra); Wimbledon (l Nadal); US Open (l Federer); Kuala Lumpur (l Golubev); Beijing (l Ferrer)

2010 in Review:

• The 25-year-old Swede is appearing in his fifth final of the season (1-3) and his first career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final…Has a 5-10 career mark in finals (3-0 on carpet, 1-4 on clay, 1-6 on hard) and he looking to win two ATP titles in the same year for the first time

• This is his first final since July when he was runner-up on home soil in Bastad (l. to Almagro)…His lone title this season came in Rotterdam (d. Youzhny) in February

• He is one of six players on the ATP World Tour this season to register at least 50 match wins…He enters with a career-best 55-20 match record, including 37-13 on hard courts

• He was the fifth of eight players to qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London …Last year reached the semi-finals in his debut…He is the Swede to qualify in back-to-back year-end championships since Thomas Enqvist in 1995-96

• He advanced to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon (l. to Nadal in four sets) and reached a career-high No. 5 on July 5…Also reached the Roland Garros final for the second straight year (d. No. 1 Federer in QFs, l. to Nadal)…It was his first win over Federer after 12 straight losses

• In Grand Slam play, since losing in the first round at the Australian Open (l. to Granollers), has compiled a 14-3 mark with runner-up at Roland Garros and QF at Wimbledon and US Open

• In March, reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final in Indian Wells (l. to Roddick) and followed with same result in Miami (l. to Berdych)

• In April was runner-up in Barcelona (l. to Verdasco) on clay

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 History: 

• Has a 65-50 career record (17-7 this season) and his previous best results are the semi-finals in Indian Wells and Miami...Also a five-time quarter-finalist in his career
Miscellaneous:

• He cracked the Top 10 on Oct. 19, 2009 and hasn’t fallen out since (reaching career-high No. 5 after \Wimbledon on July 5)

• Coach Magnus Norman reached a career-high No. 2 and advanced to the Roland Garros final in 2000…He also won the biggest title of his career at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome in May 2000

SWEDISH ATP MASTERS 1000 WINNERS

Soderling is trying to become the sixth different Swede to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title (since 1990). Here are the Swedish winners:

Stefan Edberg (4)
Thomas Enqvist (3)
Magnus Norman (1)
Thomas Johansson (1)
Mikael Pernfors (1)

Courtesy: ATP

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