Monaco downs Benneteau, captures Malaysian Open title

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (4E Sports) – Second seed Juan Monaco of Argentina boosted his chance to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals when he defeated seventh seed Julien Benneteau of France, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, Sunday to capture the Malaysian Open.

Monaco disposed of Benneteau in over three hours to win his fourth ATP title of the year and improve to a 37-15 match record. He received $153,440 and earned 250 ATP Rankings points.

The top eight players in the Race to London standings will qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals. Currently, Monaco is 11th with 2,325 points, 580 points behind eighth-placer Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

The 28-year-old Argentine earlier won the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston and the bet-at-home Open-German Tennis Championships in Hamburg. He also finished runner-up at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

“I celebrated with my team in the locker room and tonight I’ll have Malaysian food with my team,” said Monaco. “It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments.

Monaco had a rocky start, squandering four break point opportunities in the second game to allow Benneteau to take a 2-0 lead in the first set.

He, however, leveled the match at two then took a 5-3 lead but Benneteau bounced back. In a lengthy 12th game, which featured 10 deuce points, Benneteau saved four more set points to frustrate Monaco, who ultimately clinched the set after 81 minutes of play.

Benneteau fought back in the second set by creating an early service break. Monaco broke back, but Benneteau remained cool on serve, winning 19 of his 29 service points, to level the score-line with a second service break.

In the deciding set, there was no stopping Monaco as he raced to a 4-2 lead en route to the title.

“I’d like to relax now and enjoy the victory,” said Monaco. “It isn’t easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow.”

The 30-year-old Benneteau earned $80,815 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points. He also finished runner-up to Jarkko Nieminen in the Apia International Sydney final in January.

At the Thailand Open, Richard Gasquet won his seventh ATP World Tour title after beating

fellow Frenchman and No. 4 seed Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-1.

Gasquet, who last won a title in 2010, earned $99,645 in prize money and 250 ATP Rankings points.

The 19th -ranked Simon, who beat Viktor Troicki in the final three years ago, received $52,390 and 150 ATP Ranking points.

Meanwhile, Li Na and Marion Bartoli easily hurdled first-round rivals at the China Open Sunday.

The 9th seed Bartoli broke serve five times to beat Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3 while Li defeated Franchesca Schiavone, 6-2, 6-3.

The rest of the seeds went 0-4, with 6th seed Sara Errani retiring down 5-4 in the first set against Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi due to a left thigh injury and 13th seed Maria Kirilenko falling to Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-3.

The 15th-ranked Roberta Vinci lost to Spanish qualifier Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 while 16th seed Lucie Safarova was eliminated by Monica Niculescu, 6-2, 6-0.

Other Day 2 winners were Julia Goerges, Jelena Jankovic, Peng Shuai and qualifiers Laura Robson, Elena Vesnina and Ayumi Morita.

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