• Monfils recovers, beats Haase in Barcelona

    4/19/11 7:46 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Monfils recovers, beats Haase in Barcelona Gael Monfils comes back from a set deficit to win his Barcelona opener against Robin Haase on Tuesday. Monfils advances to the third round and awaits either Richard Gasquet or Blaz Kavcic.

    Gael Monfils kicked off his campaign at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell with a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory over Robin Haase on Tuesday evening. Monfils, who had a first-round bye, prevailed after two hours and four minutes of play.

    Monfils did not play in between San Jose and Monte-Carlo--a span of two months--due to a wrist injury, and he looked rusty in the first set. The world No. 9 sprayed error after error and served horribly, winning an amazingly bad six total points in five service games. He earned two breaks of his own, but Haase broke serve four times--the last of which brought a merciful end to the set at 5-3.

    Both players picked up their serves in the second and raised their all-around levels. Monfils committed 25 more errors, but he also fired 18 winners and managed to keep his chances alive. The Frenchman saved three break points midway through the set and twice served to stay in the set without too much trouble at both 4-5 and 5-6. The ensuing tiebreaker proved to be a game of streaks; Monfils started with three straight points, Haase took three in a row to even the score, and Monfils won four more consecutively to end it.

    With momentum in hand, Monfils did not look back in the third. Barcelona's No. 7 seed struck for a critical break at 2-1 and consolidated it for a 4-1 lead. As Monfils' level picked up, Haase began to struggle. The 59th-ranked Dutchman took a medical timeout for a minor ankle injury, but he came back out and held for 2-4. It only delayed the inevitable, though, and Monfils broke easily for the match at 5-2--converting his first match point with a scorching cross-court backhand.

    Despite the loss, Haase played a relatively clean match and recorded 27 winners against 30 unforced errors. Monfils made 49 mistakes, but he also struck 37 winners. The winner awaits either Blaz Kavcic or friend and countryman Richard Gasquet.

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