While most of the tennis world is focused on the upcoming French Open, there were still two ATP 250 tournaments to be played before Paris. The Open de Nice Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, and the Power Horse Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany. The fields were not the strongest, but there were still many great story lines from the week.
Nice- The number 1 seed Tomas Berdych pulled out of the tournament before his first match to give himself some rest for the French Open, which gave Albert Montanes a chance to play in the tournament.
“I was not supposed to play here in the first place,” admitted Montanes. “I was in my home town, 200km from Barcelona, with friends when I found out I was entering the main draw last Saturday night.”
With little pressure on him, Montanes blew threw the draw, dropping only one set in route to the final. There he met Gael Monfils, who was awarded a wildcard into the tournament. After taking nearly four months off last year, Le Monf’s ranking has dropped to 108, and he is still trying to find his game. It was a great week for him, but Montanes was just too good in the final. His consistency and depth were too much for the frenchman, and he beat him 6-0 7-6(3). Gael has played a lot of matches in the past couple weeks. He won the Bordeaux challenger last week, where he won 5 matches. After 4 more wins in Nice, Monfils admitted he was tired.
“He was just better than me. I played a lot of matches in the past two weeks and I felt maybe a bit tired physically and mentally,” said Monfils. Although his ranking will improve to 81, he may struggle with the quick turnaround to Paris, where he faces #5 seed Tomas Berdych in the first round.
For Montanes, it is his 6th career title, all of them on clay.
Dusseldorf- This was the “inaugural” year for this event, because it’s the first true tournament. In years past, a team event was in Dusseldorf, where countries would compete against each other for the title. Top seed Janko Tipsarevic continued to struggle this week, losing in the quarterfinals. He owns a lackluster 11-11 record on the year.
The final was contested by Juan Monaco, who has also had a tough year, and Jarko Niemenen, the 31 year old journeyman who has found the most success of his year in the past few years.
Pico Monaco found his form at the right time this week, and did not drop a set in route to the trophy, beating Shark Niemenen 6-4 6-3. Monaco must surely now be thought of as a threat to get to the second week of the French.
On to Paris!