Winston Salem - Frenchman Gael Monfils fell victim to an abdominal muscle
injury and retired from the ATP Winston-Salem final handing Austrian Jurgen
Melzer the crown.
Melzer was leading 6-3, 2-1 - and was up a break in the second set - when
Monfils called it quits after consulting with a trainer.
The latest of the injury hard luck that has followed flamboyant shot-maker
Monfils throughout his career comes with the start of the US Open, the last
Grand Slam of the season, starting on Monday in New York.
The 15th seed plainly felt the injury while serving in the third game of the
second set, after dropping the first set in 33 minutes to his 32-year-old
He was broken in a game that went to deuce four times, reduced to leaning on
his racquet after each point in the final game.
He was visited by the trainer on court but opted not to continue, giving
Melzer his fifth career title and first on hardcourts.
"I'm a little bit sad. I'm a big fighter and I wanted to make it
today," said Monfils, who had also been bidding for a fifth title. "I
felt great this week and was playing good tennis.
"It was my first time here and I had played quite well. I had some
tough matches and played quite well. I'm now just hoping for a speedy recovery
for the US Open."
Monfils had also been treated for muscle pain and tightness during his
semi-final win on Friday over Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The world number 43 hadn't played for a month prior to this week after an
ankle injury suffered in training forced him to miss the Montreal and
Monfils was playing in only his fifth event since a runner-up finish in
Nice, staged the week before the French Open in May.
The injuries have slowed Monfils' bid to rebuild his ranking. He had fallen
as low as 108th in early February but has climbed back into the top 50 by
reaching the quarter-finals or better seven times this season.
He now stands 29-17 for 2013 and is fighting to be fit for a first-round
match at Flushing Meadows against Romanian Adrian Ungur.
Melzer, who missed a month after Wimbledon with a shoulder injury, said
taking on Spain's Gala Blanco as his coach was paying dividends.
"I'm very happy to win this title, I was not happy with first-round
losses at Montreal and Cincinnati, I did not perform well," he said.
"But I really had a great week here. I'm very sorry for Gael. He has
such a big heart and is such a fighter. When he retires from a match, you know
something is wrong. I wish him a speedy recovery for the Open."
Melzer began the match with a break for a 2-0 lead. Monfils saved a set
point in the eighth game to narrow the gap to 5-3, but the experienced Austrian
delivered a service winner to pocket the set on his third opportunity in the