• Monfils, Simon lead French charge in Montpellier

    1/30/12 2:45 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Monfils, Simon lead French charge in Montpellier Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon will be back in action this week as a streak of 250-point events begins in Montepellier. Richard Gasquet also carries home hopes while Tomas Berdych leads the way as the No. 1 seed.

    One day after the conclusion of an epic Australian Open, the ATP World Tour gets right back in action with the onset of the furious February swing. One of the first 250-point events takes place this week in Montpellier, where a host of Frenchmen will be bidding for the Open Sud de France title.

    Three of the four opening-round bye recipients hail from France. Interestingly, fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet enjoyed the best Melbourne run of that trio. He took out Janko Tipsarevic in the third round before being ousted by David Ferrer. Gilles Simon (Montpellier's No. 2 seed) lost in the second round and Gael Monfils (No. 3) dropped a five-setter to Mikhail Kukushkin in round three.

    Leading the way as the tournament's No. 1 seed is Tomas Berdych, who is coming off a relatively high-profile Australian Open campaign. Berdych beat Nicolas Almagro in a high-quality fourth-round clash but refused to shake Almagro's hand afterward stemming from an Almagro forehand that drilled Berdych in the shoulder. The seventh-ranked Czech did not not have many fans two days later when he dropped a four-setter to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.

    Berdych likely awaits Tobias Kamke in the Open Sud de France second round before a possible meeting with either Florian Mayer, Gilles Muller, or Nicolas Mahut. Gasquet, a potential semifinal opponent for Berdych, is in a second quarter that also includes Nikolay Davydenko and No. 7 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.

    There seems to be little in the way of preventing an all-seeded quarterfinal lineup in the bottom half of the bracket. Monfils could meet Sydney champion Jarkko Nieminen in the quarters while Simon is on a collision course with Feliciano Lopez for the last eight.

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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