Gaël Monfils, the number 2 French tennis, signs a thundering start to the season with, among other things, a title in Rotterdam and a return to the top 20 in the world.
A title in Rotterdam, a top 10 out of the 12 victories recorded since the beginning of the year, a semi-final for the moment in Dubai and a return to the top 20 in the world : Gaël Monfils signs a thundering start to the season, and seems to give, finally, signs of maturity.
We must always expect the unexpected with Gaël Monfils. The 33-year-old has not stopped surprising for a few weeks, but in a good way. Arnaud Di Pasquale, former French DTN, makes this portrait:
“Gaël works a little more than the others to affect. He is deeply human, deeply sensitive. All factors must converge. And that seems to be the case right now.”
Nothing, however, suggested that the beginning of this season would be different from the end of the previous one, closed with a sad 29th place, conclusion of a 2018 exercise oscillating between misformed, wounded, and doubts.
Tent of the Challenger
The West Indian was even tested the challenger level, the 2nd world division, to revive last September. Without much success. Three months later, he announced that he had chosen a new coach after the departure, for personal reasons, of the Swede Mikael Tillström. His choice fell on the American Liam Smith , famous for his work in Australia, having participated in the emergence of the generation of De Minaur, Kyrgios, Ebden. But few coaches managed to find the key to “la Monf”.
His 2019 season also begins in the image of recent years: an injury forced him to withdraw from Auckland . And the French N ° 2 arrives at the Australian Open without landmarks. He lost in the second round against the American Taylor Fritz (50th world). The click will not be long.
A few days later in Sofia, he scored two solid victories before facing the Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas (11th) who has just signed a semifinal in Melbourne. A real test that Monfils passes in two sets (6-3, 7-6).
Interesting, but the Frenchman was so used to these bursts of shrapnel with no tomorrow that his defeat in the semifinals against another sensation of this beginning of the season, the Russian Daniil Medvedev (16th) seems logical.
Then comes Rotterdam . And here Monfils will clearly mark the spirits. Not only because he wins the second ATP 500 of his career, but also with his flush chart. He took his revenge on Medvedev (16th) after taking out David Goffin (21st) of Belgium in the first round and offered the Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the final, a former N.3 world .
A superb week. And the French continues its momentum after stalling Marseille because of a left wrist injury. In Dubai , he offers his first top 10 of the season by dismissing Croatian Marin Cilic in the first round, also hangman of the French Davis Cup final.
“I was ready and I like the way I play and fight,” he says after the match. Something seems to have changed in the French, who will find Tsitsipas in the semifinal in Dubai.
“Today we feel that there is more fluidity , an awareness so certainly and the fact that he is very good in his personal life, it contributes a lot I think,” Arnaud Di Pasquale analysis.
The French has indeed made official for several weeks his relationship with the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, 6th world player. His relationship with his coach seems also idyllic so far. In short, all the lights are green.
“We feel very fulfilled. And he needs that, he needs to be happy. As everyone does, but he a little more than others, “says Di Pasquale.
Naturally, this beginning of the season gives rise to some hopes for the future. “What will be interesting is on the Grand Slams, how he will behave. It’s really here that we will see if he has really passed a course, “says Di Pasquale.
The next is in Paris, in three months.