PARIS: Robin Soderling of Sweden won his first Masters 1000 title Sunday by beating Gael Monfils of France 6-1, 7-6 (1) in the Paris Masters final.
The fourth-seeded Swede hit a forehand volley on match point, then fell to the ground on his back to celebrate the most prestigious of his six career titles.
“I always feel so good here in Paris,” the two-time French Open runner-up said. “I now have two favorite tournaments, it’s here and Roland Garros. I hope I can come back many times and play well.”
Soderling became the first Swede to win a Masters 1000 tournament since Thomas Enqvist at Cincinnati in 2000. He will leapfrog Andy Murray of Britain to rise to a career-high No. 4 in the rankings.
As usual, Soderling relied on his powerful first serve. He hit nine aces and never faced a break point. He played aggressively in the first set to put the 12th-seeded Monfils under pressure, winning eight of 10 net points and hitting 12 winners to only six for Monfils.
Soderling broke in the fourth game when Monfils sent a forehand volley wide. He then fired a backhand pass across court to again break Monfils and increase his lead to 5-1.
The Swede took the first set when Monfils’ backhand pass sailed long.
“I was extremely nervous before this match,” Soderling said. “I didn’t sleep much at all (last) night. I really wanted to do well today and I’m happy with the way I started the match.”
Monfils, who upset Roger Federer in the semifinals on Saturday, raised his game in the second set, hitting six aces.
In the tiebreaker, Soderling won his service points while Monfils dropped three, including match point.
Soderling jumped to a 3-0 lead and hit a forehand winner on the line followed by an ace for a 5-1 advantage.
“Since the beginning of the tournament I’ve been really using up my reserves physically and mentally,” said Monfils, who also beat Andy Murray and Fernando Verdasco in earlier rounds. “It’s the whole week that made me tired.
“Today I wasn’t able to find the extra stamina that I would have needed to be more competitive. … It’s the first time I’ve been beating three top-10 players in the same tournament.”
In the doubles final, Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Max Mirnyi of Belarus won their eighth title by defeating the unseeded pair of Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Andy Ram of Israel 7-5, 7-5.