Monaco outlasts Benneteau for Kuala Lumpur title

Juan Monaco of Argentina outlasted Frenchman Julien Benneteau in three sets to capture the Malaysian Open title.

The second-seeded Monaco went more than three hours before finally pulling out a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory in Sunday's final. He earned his seventh career title and fourth this year.

Monaco previously won in Vina del Mar, Houston and Hamburg, and on Sunday became just the third player to win as many as four tournaments in 2012. Roger Federer leads with six titles this year, while David Ferrer has five and Rafael Nadal four.

"It isn't easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow," said Monaco, who will play in the Japan Open next week.

It was also the first title on a surface other than clay for Monaco, who improved to 7-9 all-time in finals and will return to the top 10 in next week's rankings.

Benneteau, who knocked off the top-seeded Ferrer in the semifinals, saved six set points Sunday before finally succumbing in a first set that took 81 minutes. The two split a pair of early service breaks in the second set, but the Frenchman picked up a second to win the set and force a decisive third.

Monaco broke for a 4-2 lead in the third and Benneteau saved one match point at 2-5 before the Argentine finally finished it in the following game.

"I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set," said Monaco. "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."

The 30-year-old Benneteau fell to 0-7 lifetime in title matches, including 0-2 this year. He also lost to Jarkko Nieminen in Sydney back in January and was trying to become the first player at least 30 years old to capture his first title since Wayne Arthurs, who was 33 when he claimed his maiden crown in 2005 with a triumph in Scottsdale.

"I was very focused... because I wanted to win this final," said Benneteau.

Monaco, who played Benneteau for the first time, collected a first prize of $153,400.