July 16, 2010

Making a Comeback

It had been a rough couple weeks for a couple stars on the ATP Tour.

Gael Monfils had been ranked in the top ten just over a year ago, but a wrist injury that caused him to miss two months of action last summer caused him to fall to #20 as of just a month ago. He'd done okay recently, but a second-round loss at the French Open, an opening match exit at Queen's Club and another first-week showing at Wimbledon left me wondering just how fit the six-foot-four Frenchman really was.

But then he started to show signs of life. In Davis Cup action this past weekend he faced a solid clay court player in David Ferrer, ranked twelfth in the world, and ran off to a two set lead quickly in the first rubber. But unlike his epic performance against Fabio Fognini in Paris this past May, he did not succumb when his opponent pulled even and ultimately upended the favorite, 6-4 in the fifth.

He's been even more solid this week in Stuttgart where, as the third seed he's just made his first semi since February. Monfils has had to fight though -- he dropped the middle set to #125 Pablo Andujar and rallied after finding himself in a deficit to a feisty Florian Mayer in the quarters. He's fired off eighteen aces in his two rounds, and has won more than seventy percent of his first serves. If he keeps up his form, he should be able advance past Daniel Gimeno-Traver on Saturday without too much trouble. And his successful run could signal him a real force to contend with as we enter the hard court season.

Spaniard Tommy Robredo had been in a bigger slump. The one-time #5 had lost his first match at four straight tournaments -- to players ranked outside the top forty. He wasn't able to defend either of the two titles he'd won last spring and only made any impact this year when he made the quarters at Indian Wells. By Wimbledon he was at his lowest Major seeding since 2003.

But Robredo ended his losing streak this week in Bastad when he beat Michal Przysiezny in his first round. More impressively he took out world #10 Fernando Verdasco on Friday -- it was his first win over his countryman in more than four years. Next up Tommy faces Nicolas Almagro, a man who's been pretty solid the last few months, and if he's able to follow up on his quarterfinal performance, it could get his momentum flowing back in the right direction.

It's definitely good to see both these guys putting together back-to-back wins again -- it sure has seemed like something's been missing on Tour without them. And as we hit the road leading up to the last Grand Slam of the year, they couldn't have picked a better time to do it!

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