Now the Open 13 ATP Marseille finals will be a battle of the French as Gael Monfils is pitted against Gilles Simon. While Monfils moved past fourth-seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-2 relatively comfortably, Simon was made to work harder by Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky before progressing 3-6 6-3 6-2.
Local favorite Gael Monfils maintained his perfect record against fourth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final of the Open 13 where he will meet fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The seventh-seeded Monfils, who also beat the Spaniard in the second round last week in Rotterdam, put Bautista Agut under pressure with excellent return games, and converted four of his five break points to produce an easy 6-4, 6-2 win on Saturday.
Simon took a slower start against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and rallied to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory after hitting nine aces.
It will be the first all-French final in the coastal city since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Michael Llodra six years ago.
Monfils, who also had nine aces to extend his record against Bautista Agut to 3-0, will be chasing his first title since winning in Montpellier last year. He has a poor 5-16 record in ATP tournament finals but has won three of his five titles in France.
“My coach gave me good tactics and I played differently compared to last week,” Monfils said. “Today I kept it simple and it helped me playing a big match.”
Monfils, who has decided against playing for France against Germany in the first round of the Davis Cup next month on the advice of his coach Jan de Witt to reduce his schedule, has yet to lose a set.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played good tennis here,” said Monfils, who never progressed beyond the quarterfinals in Marseille in six previous appearances. “Hopefully I’ll be able to win another title in France.”
The 17th-ranked Simon raised his game following the loss of the opening set and made a decisive break at love in the eighth game of the second set. He then raced to a 5-2 lead in the decider with a superb crosscourt forehand pass before closing out the match.
Simon, the 2007 champion, is also advised by de Witt. He will play the final in Marseille for the second time and bid for a 12th title. He leads Monfils 4-1 in their head to heads.