Gael Monfils was the player to beat in February, winning back-to-back titles under the roof in Montpellier and Rotterdam. Making a slow start at the home event in France, Gael bounced back to claim 18 sets in a row, earning his tenth ATP crown in Rotterdam following a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in an hour and 26 minutes.
The defending champion proved to be too good for a teenager who was yet to win an ATP final (0-4), facing only two break points and giving serve away once. That wasn't enough for Felix to stay in contention, though, dropping almost half of the points in his games and suffering four breaks from 11 opportunities offered to Monfils.
The more experienced player tamed his strokes nicely, landing 15 winners and 14 unforced errors. The youngster couldn't follow those numbers, producing a similar number of winners and forced mistakes as his opponent but counting to over 30 unforced errors that cost him dearly.
Nothing could separate them in the mid-range and most extended exchanges, while Gael secured his victory in the shortest range up to four strokes, producing more efficient serving and the first groundstroke. Felix placed an ace to grab the opening game before Gael closed the second game with a service winner after deuce.
Gael Monfils defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Rotterdam final.
Finding himself 40-0 down, Auger-Aliassime took five straight points to avoid a break in the third game, facing more troubles behind the initial shot at 2-2.
Monfils grabbed four consecutive points and scored a break with a backhand winner at the net, opening a 3-2 lead and fending off a break chance in the next one to cement the advantage. Spraying a forehand mistake, Auger-Aliassime got broken again in game seven, falling 5-2 behind and allowing Monfils to secure the opener with three service winners in game eight after 80 minutes.
The Canadian sent a forehand wide in the second set's opening game to experience a break at love, drifting further away from the maiden ATP title. The Frenchman wrapped up the second game with an unreturned serve, taking eight out of ten games so far and controlling the scoreboard.
Gael placed a backhand down the line winner in the fourth game to remain in front and opened a 4-1 advantage following another loose forehand from a teenager. Monfils secured the sixth game with a forehand winner and served for the win at 5-2.
Ready to fight until the end, Auger-Aliassime repelled four match points in the eighth game to pull one break back and prolong the action before Monfils landed a service winner at 5-4 for a hold at 15 and back-to-back titles.