Pablo Cuevas and Gael Monfils met for the fourth time in their career on the Arantxa Sanchez court at the Mutua Madrid Open. It was the Uruguayan who prevailed 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4) in just under two and a half hours to book a spot in the third round, where he will face the in-form Nick Kyrgios, who ousted Stan Wawrinka in two tiebreak sets.
Monfils takes opener on tiebreaker
The match started with a hold of serve by Monfils, which was then followed by a hold of serve to love by Pablo Cuevas. Both players did not face a break point in the six games that followed. With the score at 4-4 in the set, Cuevas took the initiative and managed to create two break points for himself, seemingly out of nowhere. However, the Frenchman saved both break points, and his first serve would later come to the rescue and erase another break chance. But on his fourth break, Cuevas took his chance and was now serving for the opening set.
The clay-court specialist reached set point at 40-30, but the Frenchman battled to save himself from going a set down. Pablo Cuevas had another set point chance at advantage and once again. the 29-year-old Frenchman saved that point and managed to create his first break point of the set, which he took and leveled for 5-5. The next two games were held and the set went to a tiebreaker. But in the end, it was Monfils who won the breaker 7-5 to seal the set.
Early break enough as Cuevas levels
Having held his opening service game, Cuevas forced the error from Monfils, having used good defense in the rally. The Uruguayan won the point at the net and broke at the first time of asking. In the next game, he consolidated to love and went 3-0 up. A game later, Monfils finally got on board in the fourth game.
The next three games were held by both players as the set moved to 5-2. In the following game, Cuevas has chance to close out the set, however the world number 15 won the point to take it to deuce. He held in spectacular fashion and forced Cuevas to serve it out. The 30-year-old closed out the set 6-3 at the first time of asking with an unreturnable serve.
Tiebreaker seals victory for Cuevas
With the match level, the deciding set was hard to call, although one could say Cuevas was the player with the momentum, having won the second set. The opening service game saw long rallies and good defense from the both players and Monfils held to love to get the set underway. Cuevas also held his opening service game. While the Frenchman was holding his serve with ease, the Uruguayan was finding it a little more difficult, although he did hold to love to level at 4-4.
The upcoming game was the longest of the set and whilst the set had no breaks as of yet, the world number 27 managed to get the first at advantage. Nonetheless, Monfils hit an ace down the line and fended it off. He won the next two points and held. From then on in, both players held and the set went the same way as the first, to a tiebreaker, this time it was more crucial. The clay-court specialist won the all important breaker 7-4 and booked his spot in the next round.
Pablo Cuevas served eight aces, while Gael Monfils served nine. The Frenchman struggled with his serve hitting five double-faults, whilst Cuevas served none. The Uruguayan won a total of 80 percent points on his first serve and Monfils 76 percent. Both players second serve dropped with Cuevas serving at 70 percent and Monfils dropping to 51 percent.
30-year-old Cuevas saved none from one on breaks, meanwhile Monfils had to work harder and managed to save five from seven. Cuevas won only 24 percent of first serve return points and Monfils 21 percent. Both players return increased on their second serve with Cuevas winning 49 percent points and Monfils 30 percent. Cuevas only managed to break twice from seven attempts, while Monfils was one from one. Cuevas won a total of 54 percent points with Monfils winning 46 percent.