Sunday, June 1, 2014
In his usual high-flying style of tennis, Frenchman Gael Monfils gets plenty of air as he hits a backhand to Italy's Fabio Fognini.
PARIS — No. 23 Gael Monfils beat No. 14 Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 on Saturday to advance to the fourth round of the French Open and, oh, what a spectacle it was.
In their last meeting at Roland Garros, in 2010, Fognini won 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7 in a controversial match that was suspended for darkness at 5-5 in the fifth set amid jeers. This time, there was no threat of darkness, and the highly anticipated rematch sizzled when it came to drama, but fizzled when it came to high-quality tennis.
After a nervous start in which he dropped the first set, Monfils rolled through the next two in entertaining fashion. The Frenchman began to suffer from fatigue, however, and completely gave away the fourth set, winning only six points. But Monfils came out firing in the final set, inspired by the constant cheers of “GA-EL, GA-EL” from the crowd. Showing off his trademark athleticism and shot making, he opened a 3-0 lead and avoided a late collapse.
During his post-match interview Monfils discussed coming back in the fifth set, “I was pretty tired after the third [set], and I took my time. I was suffering with the long rallies. When I arrive in the fourth, he break me like straight away. I tried to break back, but I couldn’t. The first two points were too tough for me, and then it’s easy. I wanted to serve first in the fifth, so the only option I had is to take six‑Love. Why should I make any effort [when trailing that much]?”
Monfils was asked whether he could win a Grand Slam amid the ups and downs of his career, "For me, it’s not about ups and downs. It’s more about saving my ass every day [laughter].”