Zimonjic and Benneteau save seven match points to win title

First-time pairing Julien Benneteau and Nenad Zimonjic capped a dream week as they defeated top seeds and two-time defending champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 4-6, 7-6(4), 14-12 on Sunday in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final.

Benneteau and Zimonjic saved seven match points as they won a rain-interrupted final, which finished at 9:32pm. The match was suspended with Benneteau and Zimonjic leading 3-0 in the second set and when play resumed two and a half hours later, it was the Bryans who had all the chances to win.

The Americans had their first match point when leading 5-4, deuce in the second set, which Benneteau saved with a second serve ace. In the Match Tie-break they led 9-5, 10-9 and 12-11, before Benneteau and Zimonjic converted their second match point at 13-12 as Benneteau hit a body shot at Bob Bryan.

“We were a little bit lucky of course,” said Benneteau. “When you save seven match points, you need a little bit of luck. But we played very well on those points. We still believed in ourselves until the end and it paid off.”

“It was unbelievable,” added Zimonjic. “They started unbelievable [after the rain break], without missing any shots. Julien had to hit an ace on the second serve at 5-4 and also had an unbelievable return of the first serve to save another match point. It was just amazing to come up as the winners in our first tournament together.

“They are such champions. We knew they were going to come out strong. They never give up. We really had to play unbelievable to win at the end.”

The 31-year-old Benneteau won the Monte-Carlo crown for the first time, having finished runner-up here with Richard Gasquet in 2007. The Frenchman captured his seventh ATP World Tour doubles title and first since Marseille in 2010 (w/ Llodra).

The 36-year-old Zimonjic was contesting his 79th tour-level doubles final and improved to a 48-31 mark. The Serb lifted the trophy at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the fifth time, following victories in 2004 (w/ Henman), 2005 (w/ Paes) and 2009-10 (w/Nestor).