Gael Monfils took apart an obliging Andrey Rublev, 6-2, 6-3, to seal his first title of 2017 and his first Qatar ExxonMobil Open crown at the fourth attempt.
The Frenchman had been on the receiving end of triumphs by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in recent years but he was ruthless in his destruction of the 20-year-old Russian.
He had been afforded the luxury of a walkover in his semifinal clash with Dominic Thiem after the Austrian withdrew due to illness and his energy levels showed during the 61-minute showpiece.
Rublev had been forced to save match point in his taxing last four meeting with Guido Pella on Friday and he looked a spent force on court against the 31-year-old.
The Russian started with purpose, responding to Monfils’ opening love hold with one of his own; he ripped a mesmerizing winner past the Frenchman to hold for one-all.
But his front-foot defense suited the reactive element of Monfils’ game and the elder statesman broke in the fourth game of the set.
An untimely double-fault from Rublev handed Monfils the initiative and the tireless defense that has characterized the Frenchman’s career came to the fore on break point. In short, Monfils was probing errors from the Russian and it was proving a fruitful tactic.
Rublev was struggling to find ways to break down the Frenchman's resolve and as the rallies grew longer there was a sense that the 20-year-old lacked the nous to make Monfils work.
The Frenchman consolidated the break of serve and Rublev may have been experiencing a bout of deja vu when he double-faulted in the eighth game. Having been forced to serve to stay in the set he was staring at double break point. Monfils wrapped up the opening frame in just 23 minutes.
Start as you mean to go on
The 31-year-old’s concentration threatened to dip during his opening service game of set two but he profited from a pair of poor Rublev errors at crucial moments.
The Russian failed to muster a single break point and he gifted the break at a similar stage to the opening set when he arrowed a forehand cross-court to no avail.
But his fighting spirit was not lost and he halted a procession to the finish line from Monfils when he fashioned break point in a seven-minute service hold.
He had managed to contain his emotions but he castigated himself after maneuvering control in a rally before allowing Monfils to step into the court and fire a blistering forehand down the line. Monfils was made to dig deep into his arsenal as Rublev stepped up the intensity.
However, after three near-misses in Qatar Monfils kept his composure and it was not long before he rung up two match points. Rublev slapped a forehand return long and the title belonged to the 31-year-old.