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Tennis News From Doha • Gael Monfils Gets Walkover From Sick Thiem, Will Play Rublev In Finals

Andrey Rublev of Russia in action against Guido Pella of Argentina during their semi final match for the ATP Qatar Open Tennis tournament at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, 05 January 2018. EPA-EFE/NOUSHAD THEKKAYIL



Monfils gets walkover from sick Thiem, Rublev survives thriller to reach Doha final


By Ricky Dimon


Gael Monfils got a free pass into the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open when Dominic withdrew due to a viral illness on Friday afternoon. Monfils will battle Andrey Rublev for the title on Saturday after Rublev outlasted Guido Pella in a three-set thriller in the one semifinal that did take place in Doha.


Thiem was through to his first hard-court semifinal since 2016, but the illness prevented him from continuing his run.


Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their quater final of the ATP Qatar Open Tennis tournament at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, 04 January 2018. EPA-EFE/NOUSHAD THEKKAYIL

“I have bad news,” the top-seeded Austrian wrote on Facebook. “I am in bed with fever and there is almost no chance of a recovery until tonight. Of course I am disappointed, but nevertheless I had a solid start into the new season. Now I am focusing on Melbourne and being fit and prepared for the first Grand Slam of the year.”


Rublev had no such easy day at the office that Monfils enjoyed. Instead, the 20-year-old Russian put on a high-quality show with Pella that lasted two hours and 25 minutes. Rublev saved one match point with an ace at 4-5 in the third set before prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2).


“It feels amazing,” the world No. 39 commented. “I have no words to describe this match. I think it was such an amazing match for both of us. We made amazing rallies; such unreal rallies. I’m really happy that I won. I can say only good job to Pella for how he played. The way he played, it’s unreal. I think we made a great battle; I think people enjoyed (it)…. I think everybody’s happy.”


Rublev won his only previous ATP title match last summer in Umag, while Monfils is a dreadful 6-20 lifetime in finals. The Frenchman defeated Paolo Lorenzi, Jan-Lennard Struff, and Peter Gojowycz prior to his walkover from Thiem.


The Tata Open final in Pune, meanwhile, will pit Kevin Anderson against Gilles Simon. Anderson overcame Benoit Paire in three sets on Friday; Simon improved to 6-1 lifetime against Marin Cilic with a three-set victory of his own. Anderson has won all three of his previous encounters with the veteran Frenchman.


Simon also finds himself in the doubles final with compatriot Pierre-Hugues Herbert.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


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