PARIS Robin Soderling signaled his intentions for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals when he claimed his maiden Masters title with a clinical 6-1 7-6 defeat of local favorite Gael Monfils in Paris on Sunday.
Fourth seed Soderling was simply too good for Monfils and wrapped up a straightforward victory by taking the second-set tiebreak 7-1.
His blend of raw power and pace proved too much to handle for the Frenchman, who was condemned to his second successive final defeat in Bercy.
Backed by a 14,500 capacity crowd, Monfils never discovered the touch that helped him to knock out 16-times grand slam champion Roger Federer on Saturday.
Soderling showed no weaknesses throughout the 77-minute encounter on the fast indoor court as he picked up his sixth ATP title just before heading to London, where the ATP Finals will be played from November 21 at the O2 Arena.
"I think I played very good last week, and this week, too, on a surface that's pretty similar to what it's gonna be in London," Soderling told reporters. "
"Of course winning matches against a lot of good players this week gives me a lot of confidence," added the 26-year-old, who will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings on Monday.
"Playing in any Masters, when you play the top players of the world, every match can be a grand slam final. I think you need to believe in yourself, and I think that can make a big change.
"I'm feeling really good right now, and I'm gonna have one or two days of rest and prepare for London."
Monfils handed Soderling a break in the fourth game when he fluffed a routine volley and the Swede followed up on serve to open a 4-1 lead.
He kept the pressure on Monfils and snatched the Frenchman's serve again with a superb crosscourt passing shot before bagging the opening set with a forehand winner after 26 minutes.
Soderling, whose career took a huge leap forward after he reached the French Open final for the first time last year, did not face a single break point in the one-sided contest.
Monfils tried to keep pace in the second set as Soderling's first serve percentage dropped but the Swede got his act together in the tiebreak and finished it off at the net, falling on his back in celebration.
"It was a very emotional week, I learnt a lot and I will continue to learn," Monfils told a courtside interviewer.
"I am very, very disappointed. I hope I will be in the final again next year."
Soderling, runner-up at the last two French Opens to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, offered some words of consolation.
"Congratulations to Gael, he beat Roger Federer and I know how difficult it is to beat him. I know how tough it is to lose two finals in a row, especially in Paris. Now I have two favorite tournaments, Roland Garros and here," said Soderling.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)