Gael Monfils was one of the players who had to end his 2017 season earlier, missing the last 2 months of the year due to a knee injury. The Frenchman had to retire against David Goffin in the third round of the US Open and he was sidelined until the start of 2018, asking for a wild card in Doha and using it with both hands to win his 7th ATP crown, the first since Washington 2016.
In the title match, Gael took down young Russian Andrey Rublev by 6-2 6-3 in just 60 minutes, saving 2 break points he faced and stealing Rublev's serve 3 times to control the scoreboard all the time. Monfils had a day off yesterday when Thiem withdrew before their semi-final clash due to fever, and Andrey stayed on the court against Pella for almost 2 and a half hours.
Regardless of that, Gael did just about everything right on the court, defending well and taming Rublev's forehands with ease to leave the less experienced player with no plan B. The result is even bigger for Monfils when we know that he lost 20 out of the previous 26 ATP finals he played, including 3 in Doha (2006, 2012, and 2014).
He had more winners than Rublev and also a fewer number of errors, outplaying his opponent big time in the shortest points up to 4 strokes, serving well and making a lot of damage with the first groundstroke. It was a very strong start for the Frenchman, who lost just 6 points in 4 service games, and he broke Andrey in game 4 after a 25-stroke rally, that set the tone for the rest of the match.
The Frenchman settled some 3 meters behind the baseline and he was retrieving ball after ball until Rublev finally made a mistake, unable to penetrate his rival. Also, Gael's backhand worked like a charm and he won the majority of the cross court rallies, breaking Rublev again in game 8 to grab the opener by 6-2 in just 22 minutes.
He had more winners than Andrey and only a few unforced errors, forcing the youngster to work hard for every point and imposing his shots to keep everything under control. There were some positive signs for Rublev at the start of the second set, reaching 3 deuces on the return in the opening game but he couldn't produce an extra pressure on Gael, who broke him in game 4 after 3 forehand unforced errors in a row from a teenager.
Andrey finally earned 2 break points in the following game but Monfils fends them off with a forehand winner and another good attack, and those were the last opportunities for the Russian on the return, winning just 2 points in Gael's last 2 service games.
In fact, those were the last break opportunities for any player, as they served well in the remaining games, and Monfils wrapped up a win with a service winner in game 9 after exactly an hour of very fine tennis from the former Top 10 player. Final result: