Lucas Pouille wins Montpellier title with straight-sets win over Richard Gasquet - UBITENNIS
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Lucas Pouille wins Montpellier title with straight-sets win over Richard Gasquet

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Pouille served well to win the all French clash with Gasquet in the Montpellier final (Zimbio.com)

Lucas Pouille shrugged off his shock first round exit at the Australian Open by rebounding to win his first title of 2018. The Frenchman defeated compatriot Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-4 in Montpellier.

 

Gasquet started well, but failed to break in a Pouille service game where he had 15-30. Indeed, the veteran would earn no break points in the first set. Pouille would, but three times the younger man was thwarted as Gasquet forced the tiebreak.

It was Pouille who had been the most consistent though the first set. He was rewarded with the set, earning a pair of mini breaks from Gasquet, who offered little.

Pouille earned the first break of the match proper in game five of the second set. Pouille held serve relatively comfortably again, as Gasquet found himself unable to muster a single break point in the second set. The lone exception was as Pouille served for the match. Gasquet fended off three match points to get back to deuce. Pouille then closed it out at the fourth time of asking.

The win sees Pouille take his first title in Montpellier, adding to other titles in Budapest, Metz, Vienna and Stuttgart. Pouille moves to a 4-1 record over Gasquet, having not lost to the 31 year-old since their first meeting here in Montpellier in 2013. Pouille won the title despite a slightly fortuitous win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. Tsonga had been leading 6-1, 5-5 before he was forced to retire with an injury. Pouille could move as high as No.12 in the ATP rankings as a result of his title win.

Gasquet, a veteran of six Montpellier finals, drops to a 3-3 record in the tournament. He had won the title in 2013, 2015, and 2016. He had reached the final in 2017, and 2014. The veteran can look back on a strong tournament in which he knocked out top seed David Goffin in the semi-finals.

Both men are playing in Rotterdam next week. Pouille, seeded 7th, faces Andrey Rublev in the first round. Gasquet, unseeded faces compatriot qualifier Pierre Hugues-Herbert in his opener.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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