Two gladiators in the final, only one left standing
There were 56 tennis players at the start of the 110th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, but this past Sunday, April 17, 2016, there were only two gladiators left on the arena: 29-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal (5) and 29-year-old French Gaël Monfils (13). The Spanish and French flags were flying in the wind besides the Monaco banner, colouring the sky on a day that started gray with an unwanted session of rain, that luckily turned into a glorious sunny day by noontime, allowing for the final showdown to take place uninterrupted.
Rafael Nadal claimed victory in his 100th final match on the circuit and his 9th win in the Principality. Rafa had last won for the 8th consecutive time in Monte-Carlo in 2012, then lost to now World No.1 Djokovic the year after. This Victory marked Nadal’s first ATP World Tour title since lifting the trophy in Hamburg back in July 2014 when he defeated Italian Fognini.
The two men had a breathtaking fight that lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. Nadal managed to take the first set 7-5, but Monfils played his best tennis, refusing to capitulate and took the second 7-5, and the Parisian, who had won all the previous matches easily, was on fire and encouraged by his fans who were rooting loudly for him with French flags appearing everywhere in the tribunes. It was the French revolution!
But Nadal did not allow Monfils to take a breather in the third set moving him right and left constantly until the French succumbed to the Spaniard’s powerful shots to end it 6-0. Monfils said: “The third set, felt like when you are in the rise, and the guy puts an acceleration and you cannot follow, that’s all. Rafa was the strongest, I have to accept it. When he feels he got his prey, you cannot stop him.”
Rafa fell to his knees as he celebrated his victory after a trying 18 months on the ATP World Tour. “This has been one of the most special places in my career,” Nadal said on court after his win. “It’s just a pleasure to be back here in a final playing in front of you at this amazing club.” And the public broke into loud cheers and a standing ovation.
The King of Clay is back and it is a warning for Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka in the French Open, but Nadal is first concentrating on Barcelona this week.
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene at the prize ceremony
Nadal got the royal treatment by receiving the main trophy from the hands of Prince Albert who was accompanied by an always elegant Princess Charlene. Rafael Nadal was visibly emotional when they played the Spain national anthem, almost in the brink of tears.
French doubles victory
There was a French victory after all in Monte-Carlo as earlier on, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won their third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in a row, after Indian Wells and Miami. The third seeds became the first French title-holders at the Monte-Carlo Country Club since 1986 (Forget/Noah) as they defeated Australian Open champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 4-6, 6-0, 10-6. The tricolor pair joins the closed circle of French double winners in Monte-Carlo.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert said after the match: “It was ten years ago that I played a juniors tournament in the region, and had the chance to watch a match on center court. Today, being here, play and win on this court in front of all of you, it is extreme happiness. I would like to thank Nicolas. It is a dream that we live both of us after a month and a half.” He also thanked his team and specially his grandmother who came to watch him play. Nicolas Mahut added: “It is a great achievement for us to win this tournament. It is the first time that my son came to watch a competition and we won.”
Press Conference with Zeljko Franulovic – A great year!
Zeljko Franulovic, Tournament Director, open the press conference saying it had been a festive week that started with the Launch Party at Zelo’s with the players walking the red carpet in their best attire. There were many also who participated in the traditional players private party at the Monte-Carlo Bay. Plus the annual Grand Night of Tennis at the Salle des Etoiles in all its splendor.
In the sportive side Franulovic, was grateful to the players for their participation, always loyal to this tournament that presented an exceptional board with the presence of 9 out of 10 best-ranked players in the world. As a result the ticket office confirmed a record attendance again this year with a total number of 135.652 spectators.
Franulovic expressed his heartfelt thanks to the members of the press, who come in great numbers every year. There were 462 credited press representing 21 countries, another record!
He was grateful to the loyal sponsors for their renewed support as well as the newcomers, who appreciate the ever increasing quality of this tournament. As it had been announced earlier in the Tournament Daily, Rolex decided to renew their partnership that dates from 2006. A new logo will be launched in 2017.
Mark your calendars for the 111th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters April 15-23, 2017.
“Best of” photo competition
The traditional annual photo competition award ceremony took place in the VIP Village. Alain Manigley, Administrative President of S.M.E.T.T., who organizes this contest for the 7th year in a row, presented the prizes recognizing the best pictures taken by accredited photographers during last year’s 109’s edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. This year’s book represent the “Best of” of the 2015 tournament and it is consider a “collector’s item” for the quality of the photos that are reproduced. The photos are the work of 18 talented photographers that agreed to participate. Over 590 photos proposed 242 were selected. The tournament committee is sincerely grateful to these artistic photographers as it is thanks to them that the best souvenirs of this week in April will never vanish.
Photographers’ tennis tournament
Photographers also participated in their traditional annual tennis tournament. Below is the photo of all the players by courtesy of David Aliaga. The prize ceremony taking place following the Press Conference by Zeljko Franulovic.
“The only way of finding a solution is to fight back, to move, to run, and to control that pressure.” Rafael Nadal