(September 30, 2012) -- To say that titles have been hard to come by for Juan Monaco would be an understatement. The swashbuckling Argentine suffered through a four-year drought, losing seven consecutive finals between 2008 and 2011 before breaking through in 2012 with the fourth, fifth, sixth and now seventh title of his career.
Julien Benneteau wishes he could have it so good.
The Frenchman lost his seventh consecutive final to Monaco in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, dropping a tight three-setter 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in just over three hours.
But Benneteau, who was trying to become the first ATP player aged thirty or greater to win his maiden title since Wayne Arthurs in 2005, can take solace in the fact that he upended the ATP’s win leader, David Ferrer, in the semifinals, and impressed a lot of fans and players during his final run.
In the end, however, Sunday’s Malaysian Open final was about the grit and spirited determination of Monaco, who has turned his fortunes around dramatically in 2012, and moves ahead of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on the list of ATP title leaders with his fourth title of the campaign.
It wasn’t easy, but Monaco prevailed in the difficult moments, as he has done for much of what has undeniably been the best season of the 28-year-old‘s career.
Monaco fought through a marathon 10-deuce game in which Benneteau saved four set points to clinch the first set, then rallied in the deciding set after the Frenchman had seemingly wrestled control of the match from him.
In the final set, Monaco broke to lead 4-2, and even though Benneteau saved a match point at 2-5, Monaco closed the match out swiftly in the next game.
"I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs,” said the 28-year-old World No. 11 afterwards. “I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set.”
For Benneteau, who famously raced out to a two sets to love lead against Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year before losing his third-round match in five sets, the loss did not detract from the joy of competing in another final.
“The fans were great,” he said. “It was a nice atmosphere and the game was at a good level.”
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
September 24-30, 2012
$850,000/ATP World Tour 250
Surface: Indoor Hard
Tournament Website: Malaysian Open | Live Scores | Draws
RESULTS -- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2012
Singles - Final
 J Monaco (ARG) d  J Benneteau (FRA) 75 46 63
Doubles - Final
 A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) 57 75 10-7
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Monaco: "I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs. I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set. He surprised me a little bit with his comeback in the second set. In the final set, I knew I had to be more aggressive and I am happy the way I finished the match.
"I’d like to relax now and enjoy the victory. It isn’t easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow. It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments."
Benneteau: “I was very focused on this game, because I wanted to win this final. The fans were great; there was a lot of French in the crowd. It was a nice atmosphere and the game was a good level.”
Soares: "It feels very nice. Every title is very good, really special; a different story and different atmosphere. It is only our fourth tournament, so it feels really good. This week was special, because we felt we were playing better with each match."
Peya: "We are starting to click more as a team, also on our off days as we work on our games. It paid off this week. We enjoyed the tournament a lot, it was a lot of fun."