- 08 Feb 2021
The nightmare continues for Gael Monfils. One of the hottest players in tennis last year at this time, the Frenchman lost his way when the coronavirus pandemic hit tennis last March. In the throes of a slump he pulled the plug early on his 2020 season, hoping to come back full of energy.
It hasn’t happened yet for Monfils, and after his five-set loss to Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori on Day 1 of the Australian Open, he broke down in tears when he spoke to reporters about his struggles.
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“I would like to get up and tell you that this nightmare is over, but here I am,” Monfils said, tears flowing down his face.
Normally one of the most exuberant and playful characters on tour, and one of tennis’ greatest entertainers, Monfils has suffered playing the sport behind closed doors as the coronavirus has forced the tours to shutter most of its venues to spectators over the last ten months. And even as Australia has worked to gradually bring fans back into the equation, Monfils can’t seem to change his current trend line.
“I try to be patient, I work,” he said. “But I can’t find the right tempo, the right pace, my playing. And I don’t feel good because I can’t do what I want, because I don’t have the confidence, because I can’t find my game, I can’t find my forehand, I can’t find my serve. This is what makes me not well. It is visible. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. I struggle, I try to try things but I can’t do it at all.”
Monfils’ current losing streak has stretched to seven matches, and he has lost all six of his matches since tennis restarted last summer after a five-month pause due to coronavirus.
“Yes, I want to win,” he said. “I’m trying to rebuild myself so I can win. I have no confidence. I train, I try to believe in what I do in training. But it’s hard.”
Monfils went on to ask the media to take it easy on him. He accused them of kicking him when he is down.
“You will say that I lost again, but for me it is the first loss of the year. I try to continue working, to see the moment when it will smile on me a little more. There, I arrive with zero, zero confidence. Every time I arrive here [to a press conference], I feel judged. I’m already on the ground, you shoot me. No trust.”
If you understand French, what Gaël Monfils said today before breaking into tears. The voice says it all. https://t.co/n5SsXekfEV
— Tennis Majors (@Tennis_Majors) February 8, 2021