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Sport Tennis Qatar Gaƫl Monfils France

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Monfils destroys Rublev to claim Qatar Open

Gael Monfils endured a string of injuries during 2017 but won the 2018 Qatar Open on his return to to the ATP circuit. Reuters/Ibraheem Al Omar

Just over a year ago, Gael Monfils was number six in the world and playing in the men’s end of season championships in London for the first time in his storied career.

But injury hampered his participation in London and ailments plagued him throughout 2017 to such an extent that he had to withdraw from six tournaments as he plummeted down the rankings to number 46.

As he waits to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne next week, the 31-year-old Frenchman can reflect on a morale boosting week in Doha where he claimed the Qatar Open.

He lifted the seventh ATP title after schooling the up-and-coming Russian Andrey Rublev 6-2 6-3 in just over one hour.

It was the fourth time lucky for Monfils who was given an invitation into the main draw on the back of his previous performances in which he reached three finals.

"I like this tournament so much, you know," he said after his win. "I always come back. And I was very close and finally get it. So I'm just very happy and very proud."

Monfils arrived in Qatar after a four-month break due to a knee injury. "I had a very good year in 2016. I finished sixth and then couldn't really defend my chances in 2017," he said. "I had a long rest in order to come back strong in 2018.”

The respite appears to have worked for Monfils who paraded his fabled all-action concoction of breathtaking defence and bristling offence.

"He was much fresher, moving much better than me, missing less," said 20-year-old Rublev after the defeat. "I think I was completely tired today, you could see in my shots."

Rublev went into Saturday's final as the world number 39. But he will rise to at least 33 and be among the top 32 seeds at the first Grand Slam event of the season.

Monfils will also move up the rankings thanks to his Qatar crown. But not sufficiently to enjoy a seeding in Melbourne. “It's been a while since I played without being seeded. It's always an advantage in a Grand Slam," said Monfils. "It's going to be interesting to see the draw and where I will be.

He added: "I know I can have a very tough first round. But I can’t do anything about that. As for winning here, I wasn’t expecting to do so but I am more than happy that I did.”