One year after Baez epic, Monfils hopes body is ready for more than just one match in Paris

Gael Monfils spoke to the media on Saturday in advance of the French Open. He will square off with Thiago Seyboth Wild in round one.

Gael Monfils Antoine Couvercelle/Panoramic

At 37 years old, Gael Monfils hopes to give his French fans at least one more thrilling performance at Roland-Garros.

Thrills are exactly what were on display last spring when Monfils went up against Sebastian Baez in the opening round. The Frenchman looked down and out when he trailed 4-0 in the third set and faced a break point to go down 5-0, but he stormed back for an improbable 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 victory that ended at 12:18 in the morning.

Already struggling physically heading into the 2023 edition of Roland-Garros, Monfils was unable to recover from the three-hour and 47-minute affair. He withdrew from his second-round match against Holger Rune.

I’m 38 in the world and I was 400 last year…. Everything is better.

Gael Monfils

Fast forward 12 months and Monfils is feeling much better this time around.

“I feel so much better, for sure, standing in front of you,” the veteran told the media during his pre-tournament press conference on Saturday. “I’m 38 in the world and I was 400 last year. I was barely [able to run at Roland-Garros in 2023]; actually, it was really tough physically for me last year.

“This year is a bit better. Everything is better, of course, this year–but a bit too late. (I’m) turning 38; it’s better but still harder at the same time. Anyway, that’s the life process.

“I’m just happy to be here again this year. Hopefully the body will be great enough to play the first match, and if it’s more than the first match, I can maybe this time play the second one. But I’m enjoying myself; everything is good.”


Monfils has won 12 matches this season, which includes a semi-final showing in Doha, a fourth-round performance in Indian Wells and a third-round appearance in Miami. However, he earned just two wins overall in four clay-court tournaments going into Paris. Illness has been a part of the problem, but Monfils is feeling good now.

He will likely have to be 100 percent, because the former world No 6 faces a difficult first-round test against solid clay-courter Thiago Seyboth Wild. The Brazilian upset Daniil Medvedev in the first round last season.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Monfils assured. “He’s a very good player. I just hope to perform well on my part and that we have a riveting match.”

For the fans’ sake, a match similar to the one against Baez in 2023 would be fun. Of course, at the same time Monfils does not want to deal with such a physical toll.

“We are always delighted to have such matches,” he reflected, “but when I think about the pain that I suffered afterwards, then it’s another kettle of fish. I would like to have less cramps, not to be as tired (and win something like) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. (But) you always want to have emotions and to have tough matches.

“Toward the end (of my career) what I want is just to give 100 percent of myself. It’s not 100 percent of Gael Monfils’ prime, but maybe 70 percent…. I (will) try to be as tough an opponent as I can be. I (will) just try to enjoy myself as much as I can.”

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