Top seed, Gael Monfils continues his quest for a third Montpellier title on Saturday when he takes on Serbia's Filip Krajinovic in the semi-finals.
Monfils vs Krajinovic is live from Montpellier on Saturday, 8 February from 3:00pm local time/ 2:00pm GMT
Champion in 2010 and 2014, Monfils is into the semi-finals for a fifth time following victories over Adrian Mannarino and Norbert Gombos. He opened his campaign with a 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Mannarino, before taking down Gombos 6-3 6-4 in the quarter finals on Saturday.
The flamboyant Frenchman is now 5-0 in Montpellier quarter finals.
The former world No. 6 was solid from the service line against Gombos, powering down 9 aces and finding his mark with 73% of his first serves. He converted 77% of points on first serve and a manageable 44% on his second delivery. He was also more productive in the break point conversion rate, taking three of his five opportunities, and saving five of six break points against his serve.
Monfils is now 6-2 in 2020, having gone 1-1 in the season-opening ATP Cup, and 3-1 at the Australian Open, where he defeated Yen-Hsun Lu, Ivo Karlovic and Ernests Gulbis before falling to eventual finalist, Dominic Thiem in the fourth round.
The world No. 9 is looking to reach his 30th career final, and should he get there, he will hope to improve on a poor finals record that has seen him win just 8 of the previous 29. His most recent final was just over a year ago in Rotterdam, where he defeated Stan Wawrinka to win his eighth career title.
That formed part of a fine start to 2019, as he had also made semi-finals in Sofia and Dubai, and quarter finals at Indian Wells. He didn’t maintain that form throughout the year, but he regularly weighed in with solid results, reaching semi-finals in Montreal and Vienna, quarter finals at the US Open and the fourth round at Roland Garros.
He was one win away from qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals, but he fell short, losing to Denis Shapovalov in the quarter finals of the Paris Masters. That defeat meant Matteo Berrettini hung on to the final London spot. The Frenchman has made an OK start to 2020, and he will be out to make it better when he plays Krajinovic in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Krajinovic has moved through the draw without dropping a set, beating Enzo Couacaud, Mikael Ymer and Gregoire Barrere to reach his first semi-final of the season.
He was very close to losing the second set in his quarter final against Barrere, but he saved a couple of set points at 4-5 15-40 before going on to complete a 6-2 7-5 victory.
Prior to this tournament, Krajinovic had failed to win back-to-back matches in 2020, losing in the second round in Doha and the Australian Open (he was beaten by Roger Federer in Melbourne, which is fairly excusable!), but he has addressed that and strung together three straight wins in Montpellier, putting himself one win away from his fourth career final.
His first final was a memorable one, back at the Paris Masters in 2017, while the other two came last year in Budapest and Stockholm. He didn’t make any other tour-level semi-finals after those two events, falling at the quarter final hurdle in Montpellier, Hamburg, Metz and Basel. He did gather enough wins to secure a year-end ranking of 40th.
Krajinovic’s progress has been blighted by injuries through his career- his 2019 year-end ranking was only his second top-40 finish in his career (after 2017). The closest to that was the 94th in 2018. The 27-year-old maintained a decent spell of good health last season, and if he stays fit this year, he is very capable of getting past his career-high ranking of 26th. A solid run in Montpellier will certainly help out with that!
This will be his second meeting with Monfils, and a first since Miami in 2015 when The Frenchman won in a final set tie break. Krajinovic possesses the pace of the ground to worry Monfils, but the Frenchman is one of the best defenders and most athletic players on the tour. Monfils is also got better through the week, and as long as he is dialed in, with the home fans behind him and his record on this ground, I think he will edge this one and advance to the final.