French ace Gael Monfils has become the sixth player to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month with a victory over Austrian ace Dominic Thiem at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
30-year-old Monfils, who is fresh off a semi-final finish at the US Open, has had a number of excellent performances in what could be described as the best season of his career. Known for his athleticism on court, Monfils has finished well at every Grand Slam he has played this year.
Following a quarter-final loss to eventual Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, Monfils, who skipped his home Open at Roland Garros due to injury, did well in the European leg, managing to finish in the finals at the Monte-Carlo Masters to Rafael Nadal, playing on the Spaniard’s pet surface, clay.
Monfils won the Citi Open title in Washington this year, following that up with semi-finals finishes at the Rogers Cup in Montreal – losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, who has been somewhat of a nemesis for the French player this year.
This will mark the first ever Tour finals for the French player, who follows Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori into the year-ending tournament.
Thiem, who is currently at eighth spot on the rankings, will also have an opportunity to fill one of the two spots in the Tour Finals. Spanish ace Rafael Nadal had been in prime position to qualify, but announced last week that he would be on hiatus from professional tennis for the remainder of 2016 to recuperate from recurrent injuries – putting Thiem at an effective seventh spot on the Race to London.
The Austrian youngster is closely followed by Tomas Berdych, who recently crashed out of the Erste Bank Open in his opening match; with Belgian ace David Goffin losing out to Juan Martin del Potro at the Swiss Indoors Basel and Marin Cilic, who is currently in
11th, through to the quarter-finals at the same tournament with not much of a points differential, a good finish for Cilic in Switzerland could put him in the last spot for London this year.
Monfils is part of a growing crop of tennis players who have appeared to hit their prime later than is traditional in professional tennis; the 30-year-old this year has had a 44-15 Win/Loss record, and barring what appeared to be a bizarre performance at the US Open, has been consistently athletic all year round.
Novak Djokovic is the defending champion in London, and is currently on hiatus until the upcoming Paris Masters.