Monfils takes out Nadal to reach Qatar Open final
Rafael Nadal was sent crashing out of the Qatar Open, as an inspired Gael Monfils claimed a 6-3 6-4 win.
With Roger Federer pulling out of the event earlier in the day on account of a back injury, the path seemed clear for Nadal to pick up the title but he had not banked on Monfils producing some stunning play to set up a final meeting with his fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Monfils is one of the most gifted players on tour, but has not always converted the talent into results. The Frenchman impressed in beating Viktor Troicki in the quarter finals and carried the momentum into the first set with Nadal.
He made the Spaniard dig deep to hold his opening service game and kept on probing from the back of the court. He worked a break point in the sixth game and a crunching forehand down the line for a clean winner sealed the break.
Monfils overcame a typical sloppy patch, which included one of the worst drop shots that will be seen all season, and sealed the opening set with an ace.
The Nadal fightback began at the start of the second and some brutal hitting took him into a 3-0 advantage. But he was never comfortable on serve and Monfils broke to get the match back on serve at 3-4.
Monfils held to level the match and continued his stunning play with a series of winners and moved to within a game of victory when breaking thanks to a glorious stop-volley.
The Frenchman looked nervous as he opened the game with a double-fault but shook off the setback and an acrobatic smash broke the shackles.
Nadal is a fighter of the highest order and saved two match points, the second with a blistering forehand onto the line, but Monfils produced a stunning point to set up a third match point - soaking up pressure from Nadal before countering with a forehand - and booked his place in the final when Nadal missed a forehand.
The No. 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka's bid for victory in the Chennai Open ended in disappointment, as he was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Go Soeda.
Milos Raonic was made to work hard in the first set before claiming a 7-6(4) 6-4 win over Dudi Sela.
Nicolas Almagro, the No. 2 seed, overcame the loss of the opening set to beat Yuichi Sugita 4-6 7-6(8) 6-4.