(Reuters) - Gael Monfils ended a 2 1/2-year title drought by overcoming Ivo Karlovic 5-7 7-6(6) 6-4 in the final of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C on Sunday.
The win was Monfils’ first victory since February 2014 in Montpellier, France, and came at a place where two of the players he looked up to – Yannick Noah and Arthur Ashe – had won before him.
“I grew up with those names,” Monfils told reporters. “Definitely to have my name next to them, it’s priceless. It meant a lot for me. I’m very happy, very proud.”
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Karlovic, a winner last week at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, came close to becoming the oldest man to win back-to-back ATP singles tournaments since 43-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1973.
Karlovic was serving for the match while leading 5-4 in the second set but Monfils broke and prevailed in the tie-break.
The break was the first time Karlovic failed to hold serve on 54 occasions in the tournament.
“I was serving for the match. If it was normal match, I would win it right there,” Karlovic said. “My service stopped at that moment. It happens, I guess. I’m not used to that. But it happens.
"I was going to win, and then I lost my serve. That is tennis.”
Monfils added another service break early in the third set to take the momentum and pushed on for the win.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)