Gael Monfils attempts to defend his Rotterdam title when he takes on rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime in Sunday’s final.
Gael Monfils ?? vs Felix Auger-Aliassime ?? Match Info
Date: Sunday February 16
Tournament: ATP Rotterdam final
Court: Centre Court
Time: 3.30pm local time (2.30pm GMT)
Gael Monfils vs Felix Auger-Aliassime Head-to-Head
Gael Monfils vs Felix Auger-Aliassime Match Preview
Monfils is bidding to become the first player since Robin Soderling in 2011 to defend the Rotterdam title, while Auger-Aliassime is aiming to secure his first ATP World Tour title after three runner-up finishes last year. Who emerges triumphant with the silverware on Sunday?
It’s been an excellent start to 2020 for Monfils – the Frenchman has won 12 of 14 matches and is currently riding an eight-match winning streak after capturing the ninth title of his career last week in Montpellier. Monfils has fought off fatigue to continue his excellent form in Rotterdam, advancing to the final without losing a set against Joao Sousa, Gilles Simon, Dan Evans and Filip Krajinovic. The World No. 9 faced Krajinovic in a semi-final for the second week running after conquering the Serbian in Montpellier, and Monfils was able to repeat that result in Rotterdam, firing 35 winners to prevail by a 6-4 7-6(5) scoreline.
“It would be great [to win this title again]. It would be, for me, unbelievable. It would be the first time to win two titles in a row and actually even the first time to win two titles in the same season, so it would be huge for me,” said Monfils.
It’s surprising that Monfils hasn’t won multiple titles in a single season so far in his career, with the Frenchman claiming his maiden trophy on the clay of Sopot back in 2005 before waiting another four years for his first hardcourt title in Metz in 2009. Six of his nine titles have come on indoor hardcourts.
Monfils has quietly made his way back into the top 10 after an underrated last 12 months, which included winning one of the biggest titles of his career here in Rotterdam, while he also reached semi-finals at the Montreal Masters, Sofia, Dubai and Vienna, along with making the fourth round at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. Monfils was one win away from qualifying for the ATP Finals at the end of 2019, but he failed to beat Denis Shapovalov at the Paris Masters.
Monfils has performed superbly under the pressure of defending his ranking points this week and will remain at No. 9 courtesy of his run back to the final in Rotterdam – and if he defend his title, he will draw level on points with No. 8 Matteo Berrettini.
Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime has advanced into his first hardcourt final in fine fashion this week, overcoming Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets in the opening round before registering straight sets victories over Grigor Dimitrov, Aljaz Bedene and Pablo Carreno Busta. The 19-year-old became the youngest finalist in Rotterdam tournament history as he dished up a brilliant performance to beat Carreno Busta 7-6(2) 6-4 in Saturday’s semi-finals, winning 45 of 48 points behind his first serve.
“The first set was really tight with both of us serving really well. I was serving the best I’ve ever served in that first set and then played a solid tie-break,” said Auger-Aliassime.
Auger-Aliassime made his first ATP final on the clay of Rio de Janeiro in February last year as a 104th-ranked wildcard and swiftly climbed the rankings to become the youngest player in the top 25 since Lleyton Hewitt in 1999, also finishing runner-up in Lyon and Stuttgart. Auger-Aliassime was also the third youngest Masters 1000 semi-finalist when he reached the final four in Miami.
The Canadian didn’t have a great start to 2020, losing three of his four matches in the ATP Cup and falling in the first round of the Australian Open and second round in Montpellier, but he did play brilliantly in a semi-final run in Adelaide and has showcased all of his immense talent in making the final in Rotterdam this week – can he cap the week by taking home a maiden ATP title?
Gael Monfils vs Felix Auger-Aliassime Prediction
It’s a first career meeting between the pair and it promises to be a cracking contest. Both players are wonderfully athletic and fantastic movers across the baseline, but I feel Monfils has the advantage in this match-up at this stage of their careers. He has a few more options at his disposal and a bit more firepower (when he decides to use it) to finish off points, which will come in handy in what will surely be a lot of long baseline exchanges. Auger-Aliassime has been great this week, but I’m backing Monfils to defend his title.