“The Rocket” Eubanks defeats “La Monf” Monfils at UTS Frankfurt, despite ball girl help
American Chris “The Rocket” Eubanks has begun his UTS career in winning fashion, defeating Gael “La Monf” Monfils 3-1 at UTS Frankfurt on Friday
Down two quarters to one, and needing to win nine consecutive points in order to stay in the match and force sudden death, La Monf did what no-one expected on Friday—he called on reinforcements, handing his racquet to the ball girl at his end of the court.
It was a sign of how Monfils’ day had gone at UTS Frankfurt. Flashes of brilliance, but ultimately frustrating, as the Frenchman lost to Eubanks 3-1.
La Monf starts strong against Eubanks
Monfils won the first four points of the opening quarter, quickly building his way to a healthy 10-3 lead. The Rocket was clearly taking some time to adjust to the new format, which features music being played during points, no lets, and only one serve.
Halfway through the quarter, after throwing his hands in the air in frustration, the American took a shot at using his bonus card, which means the next point is worth three points if won. An excellent rally ensued, with Eubanks wearing down Monfils’ defence and claiming the point to instantly half the gap to 10-6.
However, La Monf managed to maintain the distance, sending down some of his trademark helicopter forehands and winning his own card to take an 18-12 lead into quarter point. A few hairy moments saw the margin close to 18-16 after the Frenchman missed consecutive serves, but Monfils managed to take a 1-0 lead, sealing the deal at 19-16.
“I knew I had to come up strong for the first quarter at least to show I’m still here,” La Monf said after the quarter, and that’s exactly what he did.
The Rocket finds his speed
Ahead of the second quarter, Chris Eubanks declared to the UTS commentators, “Going into the second quarter, I’ll just wait for him to lose focus, so I’m not worried.”
For a while, it appeared as though it would be the Rocket himself who struggled with concentration, as the American regularly built leads—at times being up 8-4 and 14-9—before allowing La Monf back into the match.
As brilliant as Monfils was at the net, he missed too many serves at crucial times, with The Rocket making him play more rally balls than he would have liked.
“Second set I just felt like Gael couldn’t go. I just felt like I’m in better shape,” said Eubanks after claiming a tight 16-13 quarter, before taking the time to let Coco Gauff know that his back still hurts from carrying her to her first Grand Slam victory.
Monfils hopes fade, ball girl has her 15 seconds of fame
This will go down for Gael Monfils as the quarter that got away. While both players brought some excellent tennis and produced great rallies, it was a fired up La Monf who had the better of the majority of the points.
A well timed card from The Rocket kept him in the quarter, however, with quarter point coming at 14-13 and La Monf having two shots at going up 2-1. It wasn’t to be, as the Frenchman again missed his serves, and conceded a lead to his opponent.
Down two quarters to one, hope was fading for La Monf, while Eubanks was burning bright. The American raced out to a big lead in the third quarter, despite sharing with the commentators that, “[UTS] is a lot more tiring than I thought it would be. It’s very very different to what I’m used to, I’ll tell you that much.”
At 19-11, the clock struck quarter point, and it seemed as though Monfils was all out of ideas—that is, until he had the brilliant idea of calling in reinforcements.
While the crowd loved his inclusion of a ball girl, with Monfils taking over her duties as he handed off his racquet, unfortunately it seemed as though the Frenchman’s inability to nail a serve was contagious, as even his substitute failed to get hers over the net.
After winning a consolation rally, the umpire called time, and condemned La Monf to her second defeat of the day.