WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — France’s Gael Monfils overcame early struggles to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (11) 6-3 Friday in the semifinals of the Winston-Salem Open.
Monfils, ranked No. 43 in the world, will now face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between American Sam Querrey — at No. 29 the highest ranked player remaining in the tournament — and Austria’s Jurgen Melzer.
“It’s very good for my confidence,” said Monfils, who will play in his third tournament final of the season Saturday at the Wake Forest Tennis Center. “I’m not so happy with the way I played. I could have played better. I have to play better and be more sure of things.”
Monfils lost serve twice early and went down 4-0 in the first set to Dolgopolov. He even received treatment on his left abdominal muscles and hip during the side exchange after the third game of the set.
“I had a little pain before the match, and even during the match,” said Monfils, who missed a month of action dealing with ankle and bicep injuries before playing in the final hard-court tournament before next week’s U.S. Open.
“It was a bit better (after the trainer) worked on it, but I still felt it during the first set,” he said. “It’s not a tear, but it’s very tight. I just have to take care of it, and I should be fine.”
After the injury break, Monfils broke Dolgopolov’s serve twice to force the tiebreaker and win the first set. He then added two more service breaks in the second set.
“It wasn’t my best finish,” said Dolgopolov, a Ukrainian who was playing in his first semifinal this season. “I was in the game, but every game I didn’t finish out those important points. Game by game, he came back.
“I was angry at myself — I had too many chances. When you have that in your mind, after having played three matches (in the tournament), it’s tough to make yourself go out and forget about it.”