Explosive Monfils confronts spectator at UTS Los Angeles, defeats Tiafoe

Gael “La Monf” Monfils has shocked the Los Angeles crowd in a dramatic match against Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe, beating the home favourite 3-1 at UTS Los Angeles.

Gael Monfils, UTS 2023 Gael Monfils, UTS 2023, Los Angeles | © Tennis Majors / Panoramic

It was one of the most anticipated matches of Day 1 at UTS Los Angeles, and Gael “La Monf” Monfils vs Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe did not disappoint. In fact, the clash delivered a first for not only UTS, but tennis in general.

The opening set was dripping in vibes, as the two charismatic players imposed their charisma on the UTS court. It took only 10 points before we saw a La Monf jump shot, followed by a no-look drop shot.

After Big Foe conceded a deficit, the American tactically played his bonus card to leapfrog La Monf from 7-9 to 10-9. Tied at 12-12 at the end of the quarter, it was the Frenchman who came up with the goods when it mattered, winning the quarter point to draw first blood at 13-12.

Between quarters, La Monf justified some of his outrageous shot making, declaring, “I’m here for the show!”

“Man, every point matters, I’m used to playing some loose points, but every point matters here,” confessed Tiafoe.

La Monf dances his way to 2-0 lead

In the second quarter, when Monfils wasn’t dancing to the on-court DJ or doing the limbo underneath long shots by Big Foe, he was painting the lines with beautiful slice drop shots. Tiafoe was equally as dazzling, milking the short angles and stunning the crowd as he dashed side to side in his mint green fit.

It was Monfils’ use of the bonus card that looked like it would make the difference in the second however, with the 36-year-old playing it strategically at 6-6 to rocket out to a 9-6 lead. Tiafoe returned fire with a win of his own using the bonus card, closing the gap, but La Monf was good enough to close out the quarter, despite spraying a return wide off a Big Foe underarm serve.

Big Foe mounts a comeback

When asked after the second quarter what the plan was, Big Foe replied, “We gon’ come back and win!”

And comeback he did, with his incredibly soft hands on display in quarter three as he sliced and dropped his way to a lead. The knockout blow was delivered at 8-4, when Big Foe played his bonus card and ripped a forehand pass to go up 11-4, eventually winning the quarter 15-7.

“I don’t even think he’s standing in this arena… His head’s gone,” said Big Foe of Monfils after winning the quarter.

La Monf had indeed lost his head, and was too busy venting his frustration on the chair umpire to speak with the commentators between quarters.

Monfils explodes at crowd member in UTS first

With Big Foe needing to win consecutive quarters in order to force sudden death, La Monf began the fourth quarter looking absolutely dialled in.

A match that began with Tiafoe and Monfils laughing and joking, completely switched to a very serious affair. It was clear both players were completely focused on winning, and the time for being light-hearted was gone. Both players attempted to gain an advantage with their bonus cards unsuccessfully, and the quarter ended at 9-9.

Monfils went on to win the match 3-1, but not before the Frenchman did something never seen before in UTS, let alone tennis.

When being heckled by a crowd member, La Monf leapt from the back of the court onto the wall of the stadium, confronting the spectator face to face.

While in the moment it was clear Monfils was heated, after winning, he headed back to the spectator and shook hands, giving him a sweat band.

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