MONTPELLIER, France (AP) Third-seeded Gael Monfils of France defeated defending champion Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to win the Open Sud de France on Sunday.
Monfils served 11 aces and made the most of Ljubicic's 39 unforced errors to claim his third career title, his first since winning in Metz in 2009.
The fourth-seeded Ljubicic won last year when the tournament was held in Lyon and in 2001 for his first career title. He struggled with his first serve and was broken five times.
``I managed to stay in the match after losing my temper during the second set,'' Monfils said. ``Hopefully this will be the beginning of something, I have to realize that I'm able to play good tennis. But I don't want to be carried away with this victory because the coming weeks will be very hard mentally.''
Monfils, who beat Ljubicic for the third time in seven meetings, is likely to play the Davis Cup final against Serbia from Dec. 3-5 in Belgrade.
Monfils made a nervous start and had to save a break point with a forehand passing shot in the first game after double-faulting twice.
The Frenchman then broke Ljubicic in the fourth game with two consecutive winners down the line. Monfils took the Croat's serve another time to close out the set in 37 minutes after Ljubicic sent a backhand wide.
Monfils looked poised for an easy win when he broke again for a 3-1 lead in the second set. But two return winners from Ljubicic in the next game helped him to break back.
A miserable service game by Monfils in the 11th game - when he double-faulted and buried a forehand in the net - gave Ljubicic a 6-5 lead, with the Croat wrapping up the set with an ace.
Monfils recovered quickly and fired backhand down the line to break for a 2-0 lead in the third. Ljubicic was broken again in the fourth game, and Monfils closed out the match with an ace on his first match point.
``I had a fantastic week, unfortunately I was unable to win,'' Ljubicic said. ``I gave my best, it was not enough. Now I have big expectations for the Basel and Paris tournaments.''