Tennis: Monfils withdraws from Heineken Open

Gael Monfils hits a return against Rafael Nadal during their final match at the Qatar Open. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Gael Monfils hits a return against Rafael Nadal during their final match at the Qatar Open. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils has withdrawn from this week's Heineken Open, citing fatigue after reaching the final of the Qatar Open in Doha.

Monfils was beaten 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-2 by world No 1 Rafael Nadal in Doha overnight (NZT) and instead of travelling to Auckland to play in the Heineken Open has opted to head to Melbourne to prepare for next week's Australian Open.

It would have been a tight fit, as he would have had to play his first-round match at Stanley St on Tuesday. However the feat was possible, as world No 3 and four-time winner David Ferrer won the Heineken Open last year after being a beaten semifinalist in Doha.

Players often don't want to jeopardise their chances at the year's first grand slam tournament, and the Heineken Open can suffer as a consequence given its proximity to the Australian Open.

Monfils' withdrawal adds to that of world No 18 Tommy Robredo, who pulled out last week with a wrist injury.

"We would have done everything we could to have made sure he had every opportunity to get in an recover, but with a grand slam next week he's obviously got to take care of himself and recover and do what he thinks is best preparation for that grand slam," tournament director Karl Budge said.

"While we are bitterly disappointed, we are really confident in the field we have put together. We don't rely on any one person and know we still have four players inside the world's top 20 and some real excitement in the likes of Marcos Baghdatis and Jack Sock.

Monfils can be a crowd pleaser. The world No 31 was involved in the best match of last year's tournament when he beat Tommy Haas in three sets in the quarter-finals but then succumbed easily to eventual champion David Ferrer the next day in the semifinal.

A lucky loser from the qualifying tournament will take over Monfils' spot in the main draw.

- Michael Brown of APNZ