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Monfils earns 500th match win by beating De Minaur at Cincinnati Masters

Gael Monfils picks up a milestone achievement with his straight-set victory over Alex de Minaur in the Cincinnati second round on Wednesday. Monfils will battle Andrey Rublev for a place in the quarter-finals

Gaël Monfils, ATP Cup, 2021 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Gael Monfils hasn’t had much to celebrate over the past year and a half – at least not on the tennis court. But the flamboyant Frenchman is finally starting to win matches again, and he won his 500th when he defeated Alex de Minaur 6-3, 7-5 in round two of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday evening.

Monfils won 83 percent of his first-serve points and 57 percent of his second-serve return points to advance after one hour and 44 minutes.

“I feel great,” said the 34-year-old, whose on-court level has improved dramatically ever since he married Elina Svitolina earlier this summer. “Obviously I’m happy to get the 500th win under my belt. It’s a great achievement and I’m very proud. It’s a blessing and I’m very happy about it.”

Even though Monfils required only two sets, it wasn’t easy to get across the finish line and reach the 500 milestone. The world No 22 got a look at four match points when de Minaur served to say alive at 3-5 in the second. After the Australian held, Monfils earned match point on his own serve at 5-4, 40-30. Again he could not convert and de Minaur ended up breaking.

Monfils gave himself another chance by breaking right back for 6-5, and this time he made no mistake with a routine service hold.

“It’s been a while I’ve been playing,” the former world No 6 reflected. “To be honest just before coming here, I didn’t really know that I was that close and now 500, if I think about it it’s a big number. It’s been a lot of wins over the years. I never thought that when I started I would be at that amount of wins.”

Rublev next up for Monfils in Cincinnati third round

Monfils’ reward is a Thursday showdown against fourth seed Andrey Rublev, who overcome Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 during second-round action on Wednesday. Their only previous encounter went the Frenchman’s way via a 6-2, 6-3 decision in the 2018 Doha final.

Among those joining Monfils and Rublev in the last 16 were Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Casper Ruud, Diego Schwartzman, and John Isner.

Medvedev, the Toronto champion, eased past Mackenzie McDonald 6-2, 6-2.; Zverev defeated Lloyd Harris 7-6(3), 6-2; Ruud outlasted Toronto runner-up Reilly Opelka 6-7(7), 6-0, 7-6(4); Schwartzman held off Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in a night-time thriller; and Isner, a semi-finalist in Toronto, upset Jannik Sinner 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4.

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