Monfils soars into Australian Open quarters

Melbourne, Jan 25 (IANS) Frenchman Gael Monfils flew into the Australian Open tennis quarters beating Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in a fourth round match here on Monday.

The 23rd-seeded Frenchman defeated Kuznetsov in two hours and 37 minutes at the Margaret Court Arena. Kuznetsov was contesting his first Grand Slam fourth round match. He was bidding to become the first Russian quarter-finalist at the Australian Open since Nikolay Davydenko in 2010.

He fired 44 winners and 14 aces, converting three of seven break chances and covered 2,131.8 metres on court in total.

It was a typically exuberant display by Monfils who will make his first quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open in his 11th trip Down Under.

“It was tough,” Monfils said after the match.

“I think I knew he would come and step in, try to play very fast. That’s what he did. I was a bit nervous so I could not hit through him for a while. Then suddenly I think I served a bit better and I put more pressure. I grabbed the first set.”

“I felt unlucky in the second. I lost the momentum because at this period I thought I had him. It was a bit tough for me to grip my racquet (after the dive). Then it was a bit tougher to play.”

“He had a good second set. Then I think I served pretty well, tried to focus on my first shot after the serve. Until the end, I was fighting. I think he gave me a good fight, so I was happy to come through,” he added.

After splitting the first and second sets, Monfils grabbed the upper hand in the sixth game of the third, breaking to love for 4-2, taking the set three games later.

Neither player managed a break in the fourth and the Frenchman would slam the door in the eventual tie-break, ripping a cross-court backhand pass for a 4-0 lead. He converted on his first match point to seal the win.

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