Juan Monaco faces Jarkko Nieminen in the final of the inaugural Power Horse Cup ATP tournament, with both players seeking their first title of the year.
Monaco reached the final by beating Guido Pella 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) on Friday. Nieminen defeated Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Monaco is seeded third and the highest-ranked player left in the field, but he needed nearly two hours to overcome his left-handed, 101th-ranked opponent, who was playing in his first semi-final match on the ATP Tour after going through qualifying.
Pella saved two match points — and wasted one set point — before whipping a backhand into the net to end the grueling battle from between the two Argentines. The 19th-ranked Monaco finished with eight aces, while Pella had only one.
“It’s my first final this year, so I’m very happy,” Monaco said. “I played a couple of good matches, so I’ve got good rhythm. We played a great match [today]. We’ve known each other for a long time and have had many practices together. In the second set, especially, we fought until the last point.”
Sixth seed Nieminen fell behind 2-0 in the third set and faced two break points, but he recovered to win the next five games and served out the match on his second match point when Sijsling’s forehand sailed long.
Nieminen holds a 2-1 head-to-head record against Monaco.
OPEN DE NICE
AP, NICE, France
France’s Gael Monfils beat Pablo Andujar 7-5, 6-4 at the Open de Nice on Friday to line up a final against Albert Montanes of Spain.
Montanes defeated French wild-card entry Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in the earlier semi-final at the Nice Lawn Tennis Club.
Montanes hit 11 aces and clinched the victory with a backhand return.
A former top 10 player, Monfils was hampered last year by a right-knee injury and has dropped to 109th in the rankings.
Monfils hit 17 winners to eight for Andujar to take the first set when the Spaniard netted a backhand volley. The Frenchman then rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second.