Washington - France's Gael Monfils saved a
match point and battled back with sharp returns in sweltering heat to defeat
Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in Sunday's Washington Open final.
The 29-year-old Frenchman took his sixth
ATP title, his first since 2014 at Montpellier, first outside of Europe and
first outdoor trophy since Sopot in 2005 as well as claiming the top prize of
$348 200 (317,266 euro) on the US capital hard-courts.
"I'm very happy," Monfils said.
"It has been a good year so far. It's a good step but hopefully I will
Monfils withstood a barrage of 27 aces from
the 37-year-old Croatian, firing back 16 of his own. He ended Karlovic's streak
of 70 unbroken service games when the Croatian served for the match in the 10th
game of the second set.
"If it was a normal match I would have
won it right there," Karlovic said. "At that moment, I just didn't
have it. I'm not used to that. Usually I'm able to just win it. Today I didn't.
I'm disappointed a lot."
Flamboyant Monfils denied Karlovic on a
match point in the second-set tiebreaker as well, broke him again in the third
game of the final set and held from there to win in two hours and 13 minutes.
"Today was pure luck," Monfils
said. "It was a few opportunities, a few shots, and I managed to make it.
It was just a few shots. It wasn't like a regular win."
Monfils became the third French player to
win the Washington crown after Yannick Noah in 1985 and Arnaud Clement in 2006
and noted how Noah and 1973 winner Arthur Ashe were special inspirations to
"To have my name with them, it means a
lot to me," Monfils said.
Monfils improved to 6-19 in ATP finals,
including a 2011 Washington final loss to Radek Stepanek. Monfils had dropped
his prior three finals in a row, including in February at Rotterdam and April
at Monte Carlo, and eight of his past nine finals since 2011.
Karlovic, who fell to 7-9 in ATP finals,
won his seventh career title last week on Newport grass to become the oldest
tour singles champion since 1979. But a ninth match in two weeks proved too
much for him.
"I was better in the first two sets
and after that I was dead," Karlovic said. "It was really hot out
there. I just didn't have any energy left but I was trying to push
Belgian seventh seed Yanina Wickmayer, a
2009 US Open semi-finalist, defeated 122nd-ranked American Lauren Davis 6-4,
6-2, to capture her fifth WTA title and her first since last year in Tokyo.
"This has just been an amazing week
for me," said Wickmayer, who also won the women's doubles crown alongside
Romania's Monica Niculescu. "Conditions were really hot out there. It was
Monfils, who will jump from 17th to 14th in
the world rankings, squandered three break points in the 12th game and dropped
the first set on a Karlovic overhead smash.
Karlovic, who will jump into the top 30 in
the rankings, broke to lead 5-4 in the second set but again handed Monfils
triple break point only to save them all. Monfils hit a forehand volley winner
and Karlovic sent a forehand long to surrender a break.
"It's tough to serve and volley for
two hours in the heat," Monfils said.
In the tie-breaker, Karlovic had match
point at 6-5 but Monfils answered with two service winners of his own and
Karlovic netted a forehand volley to surrender the set. Monfils broke in the
third game of the final set and held from there to take the match.
"I was very lucky he missed that
volley," Monfils said. "There was the belief (I could win), but it
was very tough."
Results on Sunday from the final day of the ATP and WTA Washington Open (x denotes seed):
Gael Monfils (FRA x2) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO x13) 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4