Re: ATP Finals
World No. 30 Albert Montanes closed out an exceptional week for Spanish sport on Sunday. Following Spain’s victory in the FIFA World Cup final last weekend and Nicolas Almagro’s triumph in Bastad earlier in the day, the Barcelona resident won his second ATP World Tour title of the season at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.
Montanes was crowned champion when third seed Gael Monfils was forced to retire with a right ankle injury; Montanes had been leading 6-2, 1-2 in the pair’s second meeting. He received 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €72,150 in prize money, plus a brand new white Mercedes-Benz E 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY convertible.
"I played very well. In the first set I played good in the rallies and my confidence was good," reflected Montanes. "I am very happy with the win today. It is unbelievable for me. All week I played unbelievably. I’m very happy about this week. The Mercedes [I won] is very nice."
The 29-year-old Montanes became the sixth different Spanish winner at the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament in Stuttgart, joining David Ferrer (2006), Rafael Nadal (2005, 2007), Alex Corretja (1997), Alberto Berasategui (1994), and Jose Higueras (1983).
The right-hander improved to a 5-4 record in ATP World Tour finals. All nine of his ATP World Tour final appearances have come on outdoor clay, including his victory at the Estoril Open (d. Federer, Gil) in May. It is the second straight year that the Spaniard has won two ATP World Tour titles in the same season, having won in Estoril (d. Blake) and Bucharest (d. Monaco) in 2009.
Montanes went into Sunday’s final with the confidence of having beaten No. 2 seed Jurgen Melzer and No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero back-to-back in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. He broke Monfils’ serve in the third and seventh games as he raced to a one-set lead in 33 minutes. The Frenchman was forced to retire just three games into the second set, though.
The No. 17-ranked Monfils dropped to a 2-8 record in ATP World Tour finals; his two titles came at Metz (d. Kohlschreiber) last year and at Sopot (d. F. Mayer) in 2005. He was contesting his first ATP World Tour final since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in Paris last November.
"I twisted my ankle on the court and it was impossible to finish the match," said Monfils. "The week was good. I played pretty good tennis, a lot of confidence came back. To reach a final again was pretty exciting. I had a bad experience (today) but hopefully it will be better soon and I can get back to my best level and try to reach some other finals."
Last weekend, the Parisian was part of the French Davis Cup team that dethroned two-time defending champion Spain in the World Group quarter-finals. Monfils won the first rubber for France with a dramatic five-set victory over David Ferrer, He has compiled a 24-12 mark on the season.