Monfils win finalises ATP Tour Finals line-up
Paris: The last three pieces of the ATP World Tour Finals jigsaw puzzle fell into place on Thursday as a victory for Gael Monfils at the Paris Masters determined the final line-up of the event in London.
The 12th-seeded Monfils, a losing finalist to Novak Djokovic here a year ago, produced a spectacular 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 win over Fernando Verdasco that ended the Spaniard’s hopes of making the eight-man roster.
The third-round victory by Monfils means Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, Spain’s David Ferrer and American Andy Roddick will complete the field for the season-ending event that starts a week on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Djokovic, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling had already secured their places at the event at London’s O2 Arena.
Earlier, eighth seed Roddick defeated Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-3, 7-6 (10/8) to knock Jurgen Melzer out of the race for the season finale.
The Austrian, who won the Wimbledon doubles title, will, however, be able to compete in London in the doubles competition.
It fell to Monfils to play the qualifying puppeteer in front of a sold-out 14,000 capacity Bercy arena as the popular home player rode a roller-coaster against Verdasco.
Twice the Spaniard failed to convert match points, allowing Monfils to secure a key break to put him 6-5 up in the final set.
Monfils secured the decisive break when Verdasco produced his ninth double-fault of the afternoon and then ploughed a forehand volley into the net to hand the Frenchman the momentum.
A game later, Monfils was celebrating along with the fans as he moved into the quarter-finals.
The world number 14 will lead the French effort in next month’s Davis Cup final in Belgrade against Serbia after team-mate Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
Roddick improved his record indoors in the capital to 13-6 with his win over Gulbis, in his third straight match to be played at the early-morning 1030 time slot.
The early start proved no problem for the American, who qualified for London a year ago but had to miss the event due to a knee injury.
Roddick didn’t waste time watching the subsequent Verdasco loss, concentrating instead on his own improving form.
“I’m happy that I’ve won some matches and not so far relied on people losing,” said the 28-year-old. “It’s certainly an accomplishment every year, it’s an honour to qualify once. You can’t just play well for one week. It’s the culmination of doing it week after week on tour.”