[WC] Gael Monfils (FRA) def Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 63 76(6)
Four years ago, German Peter Gojowczyk reached his first Tour-level Semifinal here in Doha, winning three qualifying matches, then defeating 20-year-old Dominic Thiem, Philip Kohlschreiber and Dustin Brown. Peter’s run came to end in a deciding-set loss to Rafael Nadal. Nadal’s opponent in the 2014 Championship Match? Gael Monfils.
Remarkable 5th Doha Semifinal for the French Showman
Gojowczyk’s Doha heritage may be positive, but Monfils’ is even richer. In the 2006 Final, Gael fell to Federer in a second-set tiebreak. He knocked-off top-seed Rafael Nadal in the 2009 Quarterfinals. Three years later, he reached the Championship match again, where Tsonga bested him in two. Then four years ago, in his last Qatar ExxonMobil Open appearance, Monfils reached his 3rd Doha Final, falling to Nadal in a deciding set.
On Thursday, Captain Showtime reached his 5th Doha Semifinal with a tight, second set tiebreak victory over Gojowczyk. The two had played once before, in the 2014 Davis Cup Quarterfinals; another Monfils victory that featured a second set tiebreak.
Thursday night’s first set lasted just 28-minutes. Gael broke immediately after the first changeover and held the rest of the way. Monfils was off to the races in the second, breaking Gojowczyk for a second time in game-1, but Peter stepped-up, ripped risky returns and broke back immediately after the first sit-down. The two traded breaks again halfway through the set; then at 5-6 Gojowczyk, Monfils overcame three double faults while serving to stay in the set, eventually forcing the tiebreak with an ace. Insane recovery.
Down set-point in the breaker, Monfils managed an impossible return on a booming serve from the German. Forced to hustle down the next two shots, he saved set point with his only option, an awkward lob just out of Peter’s reach. Two serves later, it was game, set, match for the Frenchman.
Next up: Semifinals. Dominic Thiem
To reach his fourth Championship match at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Gael Monfils will have to do something he’s never done before: Take down World #5 Dominic Thiem. Dominic outlasted inspired qualifier Stefanos Tistsipas in the night’s previous match.
Monfils and Thiem have battled three times, all victories for the Austrian. In 2015, Dominic won in the Umag Semifinals, after dropping the first set 1-6. A year later, Thiem won in three during the round robin stage of the ATP Finals. And last year, Dominic delivered a straight-sets win over Monfils in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells.
AT 31-YEARS-OLD, HE IS ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC SHOW-MEN THE SPORT HAS EVER SEEN. A 3-TIME FINALIST ON THIS COURT, FOUR OF HIS 30 CAREER TOP-10 VICTORIES HAVE COME HERE IN DOHA, INCLUDING A DEFEAT OF WORLD #1 RAFAEL NADAL IN THE 2009 QUARTERFINALS. A 2-TIME GRAND SLAM SEMIFINALIST, HE NOW OWNS 6 ATP WORLD TOUR SINGLES TITLES; AND LAST YEAR, EARNED HIS 400TH CAREER MATCH-WIN AT ROLAND GARROS. A 26-TIME FINALIST ON THE ATP WORLD TOUR, HE’S BEEN RANKED AS HIGH AS #6 IN THE WORLD, IS A 2-TIME OLYMPIC QUARTERFINALIST, AND AS A MEMBER OF HIS COUNTRY’S DAVIS CUP TEAM, HELPED LEAD FRANCE TO THE DAVIS CUP FINAL IN BOTH 2010 AND 2014. MAKING HIS 8TH QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN APPEARANCE, HE’S DEFEATED POALO LORENZI AND JAN-LENNARD STRUFF TO REACH TONIGHT’S QUARTERFINAL MATCH. FROM FRANCE, PLEASE WELCOME 3-TIME QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN FINALIST – GAEL MONFILS
FOUR YEARS AGO HERE IN DOHA, THIS 28-YEAR-OLD BLAZED THROUGH QUALIFYING, DEFEATED DOMINIC THIEM IN THE FIRST ROUND, PHILIP KOHLSCHREIBER IN THE SECOND, DUSTIN BROWN IN THE THIRD, AND REACHED HIS FIRST CAREER ATP WORLD TOUR SEMIFINAL. LATER THAT YEAR, HE’D GO ON TO DEFEAT WORLD #12 JO-WILFRIED TSONGA IN AN EPIC FIVE-SETTER IN THE DAVIS CUP QUARTERFINALS; AND EARN HIS FIRST TOP-10 WIN, DEFEATING MILOS RAONIC IN HALLE. LAST SEPTEMBER – AGAIN, AS A QUALIFIER – HE CAPTURED HIS MAIDEN ATP WORLD TOUR SINGLES TITLE IN METZ, WINNING SEVEN MATCHES IN EIGHT DAYS, DEFEATING BENOIT PAIRE IN THE FINAL. COMPETING IN HIS 3RD QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN, HE COMES INTO THE NEW SEASON WITH A CAREER-HIGH RANKING OF #60 IN THE WORLD. FROM GERMANY, PLEASE WELCOME 2014 SEMIFINALIST – PETER GOJOWCZYK