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Adrian Mannarino vs Gael Monfils Turkish Airlines Antalya Open tennis live: French stars clash in Antalya semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 28 Jun 2018
  • Adrian Mannarino vs Gael Monfils is live from Antalya around 4.00pm local time on Friday (2.00pm BST)
  • The pair have split their two previous meetings (both on grass) at one win apiece
Gael Monfils (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Former top 10 star Gael Monfils continues his quest for a maiden grass-court title when he takes on compatriot and top seed Adrian Mannarino in the Turkish Airlines Open semi-final in Antalya on Friday.

Wildcard and fourth seed Gael Monfils has only won two ATP World Tour titles since 2014 - can the enigmatic French talent secure a spot in the final of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya on Friday against countryman Adrian Mannarino? Monfils hasn’t been able to push on from his career-best season in 2016 due to a series of niggling injury issues, but he’s got an excellent opportunity to win some silverware in Antalya this week - can he take advantage? Mannarino meanwhile is still gunning for his first ATP World Tour title and he won’t have a much better shot than this for the rest of his career - will he be able to handle the pressure? Monfils and Mannarino take to court around 4.00pm local time on Friday (2.00pm BST).

The ATP 250 tournaments the week before Grand Slams are always interesting and throw up some unexpected semi-finals and finals due to the top players skipping the events or bowing out early as they prepare for the major tournament, but the semi-finals in Antalya are about as good as you could hope for given the circumstances. Three of the top four seeds have progressed to the semi-finals - including last year’s Antalya runner-up Mannarino and former World No. 6 Monfils, who took a late wildcard into the event in order to generate some match practice on the grass ahead of Wimbledon.

You could tell Monfils was extremely rusty in his Antalya opener against Blaz Kavcic - the Slovenian player who has barely won tour-level matches on grass during his career. Monfils was able to dig out a 6-3 5-7 7-5 victory to move into the quarter-finals, where he produced a much-improved display, taking out Spanish veteran Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6(3) 6-4 to advance into his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February.

“I’m happy,” Monfils said. “I think my game today was great. I served very good. Tomorrow I know is going to be a big match. Always, the semi-finals are big. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

For the most part, these types of semi-finals aren’t exactly what former top 10 players would call ‘big matches’ (relatively speaking of course), but for Monfils, things are a little different. After putting together a stellar 44-17 record during a career-best 2016 season in which he won the biggest title of his career at the ATP 500 Citi Open and made the U.S. Open semi-finals (along with qualifying for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals), Monfils was restricted to far less tournaments in 2017 because of injury, and as a result the enigmatic Frenchman ended the season with a 18-14 match record and a year-end ranking of No. 46 - his lowest mark since 2013.

Monfils started 2018 in promising fashion as he captured the Doha title, but after making the semi-finals in Buenos Aires and quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro (beating Marin Cilic), the 31-year-old failed to make another quarter-final until this week in Antalya - while he’s also once again been battling niggling injury problems. However, Monfils was solid in reaching the French Open third round and falling to David Goffin in five sets, and in making the semi-finals in Antalya, at least he’s getting more matches and wins under his belt. The question is can he build on these results?

Adrian Mannarino (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Adrian Mannarino has advanced into the Antalya semi-finals for the second year in a row without dropping a set, taking out Ricardas Berankis 6-4 7-5 and Joao Sousa 7-6(3) 6-4 this week. Still searching for his first ATP World Tour title, Mannarino was so close to snapping his drought 12 months ago at this very tournament, but he lost in the final to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita - can he go one step further in 2018?

Mannarino was one of the tour’s most improved players during a career-best 2017 season, with the Frenchman registering a 33-27 record as he finished runner-up at the ATP 500 Japan Open in Tokyo (along with Antalya), made his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Montreal, the semi-finals in Moscow, quarter-finals at Los Cabos and Basel and Round of 16 finishes in Miami, Monte-Carlo, Cincinnati and Wimbledon. After reaching the quarter-finals of Sydney and the third round of the Australian Open to start 2018, Mannarino hit his career-high ranking of No. 22 - but he’s been on a downward spiral ever since.

Indeed, before arriving at Queen’s Club last week, Mannarino hadn’t won back-to-back matches since advancing to the semi-finals of the New York Open in February - while he was also on a six-match losing streak dating back to the second round of Barcelona as he lost in the opening rounds of Madrid, Rome, Lyon, Roland Garros and s-Hertogenbosch. But clay has always been Mannarino’s worst surface and grass his best, and after making the quarter-finals at Queen’s last week, he’s into the semi-finals in Antalya and in the process of turning his season around.

The pair have played twice before - and both matches have come at Wimbledon, with Monfils winning in straight sets in 2015 and Mannarino prevailing in five last year. It’s a tough match to predict - Mannarino is the more reliable performer of the pair right now, especially on grass, but obviously Monfils is the better player if both produce their best tennis. Monfils unfortunately has a track record of passing up golden chances to win titles, while Mannarino is one of those players that require maximum focus and motivation to beat. I think the top seed could be returning to the Antalya final on Friday.

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Adrian Mannarino vs Gael Monfils Turkish Airlines Antalya Open tennis live: French stars clash in Antalya semi-finals

Former top 10 star Gael Monfils continues his quest for a maiden grass-court title when he takes on compatriot and top seed Adrian Mannarino in the Turkish Airlines Open semi-final in Antalya on Friday.

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