MONACO TO CRACK TOP 10 WITH HAMBURG TRIUMPH
Argentina’s Juan Monaco will break the Top 10 on Monday after winning his third ATP World Tour title of the season on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over home favourite Tommy Haas in the final of the bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships 2012 in Hamburg.
Monaco will join fellow Tandil native Juan Martin del Potro in the elite Top 10 after earning 500 South African Airways ATP Rankings points. It is his first victory at an ATP World Tour 500 tournament. Runner-up Haas received 300 ranking points and €97,635 after suffering his first defeat in an ATP World Tour final since 2002.
"It's amazing [to break the Top 10], it's a dream come true," declared Monaco. "I will always remember this great week because it's very important for me and my team. It was a big goal we had pre-season when we were practising very hard."
The 28-year-old Monaco has compiled a 31-10 match record in 2012, with 24 of those wins coming on clay. He won two titles earlier in the season at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar (d. Berlocq) and the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston (d. Isner) and reached the final at last week’s MercedesCup in Stuttgart (l. to Tipsarevic).
In his fifth meeting with Haas, Monaco improved to a 4-1 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series as he clinched victory in two hours. The third seed lost serve three times, but countered by breaking Haas five times from nine opportunities. He is the first Argentine to win the Hamburg title since Guillermo Coria in 2003 (d. Calleri).
"I can't complain about the way I played today," said Monaco. "I was 4-1 down in the first set, but I never gave up. I was fighting every point, very focussed and very motivated to win this tournament. I think it was very important to win the first set. In the last two games of the match I think I played very well."
Monaco improved to a 6-9 mark in ATP World Tour finals. He won his first three titles in 2007, before ending a seven-match losing run in finals by triumphing in Vina del Mar in February. All six of his titles have come on clay. He now travels to London to represent Argentina in the Olympic Games, to be held on grass at Wimbledon.
"To change the courts is not going to be easy for me, but I have five days for practice to be with the guys there," said Monaco. "So, let’s see how it goes. This tournament will bring me big confidence and I’m feeling great, no injuries. So, I will try my best in London."
The 34-year-old Haas was bidding to win his second ATP World Tour title on home soil this season. Last month, the German topped Roger Federer in the final of the Gerry Weber Open to win his first trophy in three years.
The Hamburg native has mounted a resurgence in the South African Airways ATP Rankings this year, having started outside the Top 200 following hip and elbow surgery in 2010. Having started the week at World No. 49, he is projected to climb to around No. 35 on Monday.
"He played a tremendous match," said Haas. "All credit to him. He performed really well, especially when it came down to the big points. I tried to play my best; I thought I played really well throughout the match. Having the crowd support really lifted me to another gear, but it just wasn't enough today.
"I really didn't know if I was going to be able to get this feeling one more time, especially here in Hamburg. To have experienced another week like this with getting to the final is obviously another dream week for me."