Tennis

Out-of-form Monfils cries, asks for mercy after exit

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  • French tennis star Gaels Monfils cried and asked reporters to show him “mercy” after he was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round on Monday.
  • The 34-year-old has now failed to get past the first round in each of his last six tournaments. 
  • “I would like to get up and tell you that this nightmare is over, but here I am,” he said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

French tennis star Gaels Monfils cried and asked reporters to show him “mercy” after he was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round on Monday.

The 34-year-old, who was the 10th seed, has now failed to get past the first round in each of his last six tournaments, losing seven matches on the bounce.

Monfils last victory came in February 2020 when he beat Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals of an ATP event in Dubai. He was knocked out by Novak Djokovic in the semis of that tournament, before going on a coronavirus-enforced break from competitive tennis.

Since returning to competition in September, Monfils has lost every match he has played.

“I cannot serve, I can no longer make a forehand, I make mistakes,” Monfils said after his five-set defeat to Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, who is ranked 86th in the world.

Monfils took the opening set of the match 6-3, before losing the second and third sets, bouncing back to win the fourth 6-3, then finally losing in the fifth.

“I would like to get up and tell you that this nightmare is over, but here I am.”

“I feel judged,” he added. “I’m already on the ground, you shoot me. I ask for a little mercy. It hurts me because I train like a madman and it doesn’t work. When the guy is down, don’t shoot him.”

Asked by a reporter what he is clinging onto for hope that his poor run of form will change, Monfils broke down.

“To nothing,” he said. “I will give my mother’s simple sentence. She will tell me: ‘We must continue to train and it will come back. This is the only trick.'”

Monfils is often a fan favourite at any tennis tournament due to his charisma and highlight reel style of play. In the past, he has been accused of underachieving, with some pundits saying he is more interested in pleasing the crowd than he is in winning tournaments.

“He’s a social human being and loves to play in front of a crowd,” former world number one Mats Wilander, who was commentating on Monfils’ match for Eurosport, said.

Wilander believes the lack of crowds caused by the coronavirus pandemic have played a huge role in Monfils recent fall from grace.

“2020 has been a horrible year for people like Gael Monfils who likes to socialize, and I think with his tennis as well and we talked about this last year, who was going to be able to handle this? The likes of Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios, Benoit Paire, Fabio Fognini – the players that really, really play up to the crowd – it’s tough for them. I feel for them.

“Gael had a good year in 2019 and hiring Gunter Bresnik that says it all, he’s one of the toughest coaches in the business. So I think Gael can stay positive, work hard and we want to see him back.”

Monfils will now leave Australia and fly home, while Ruusuvuori takes on Spaniard Pedro Martinez in the second round on Wednesday. 

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