The Monfils Magical Mystery Tour Continues at French Open
by Sean Randall | June 4th, 2008, 5:45 pm

I have been touting Gael Monfils for a long, long time. And in terms of upside among the new young blood on the tour (Nadal aside) I put him among the Top 3 alongside Richard Gasquet and Novak Djokovic, and like the other two I peg him as a realistic No. 1 candidate and a future Slam champion. I just didn’t think he’d be in the mix this soon. But who am I to complain? ADHEREL

Monfils is an absolute raw talent with incredible potential. But he’s also a kid that needs a lot of hand-holding, direction and discipline. And unlike Djokovic, Gasquet and many others in his age range, I wasn’t convinced of his tennis smarts. He’s a great athlete and competitor no doubt and a pleasure to watch, but some of the things he does on court makes me cringe, and it’s held him back. That is until now.

Today against David Ferrer, a top five player, a US Open finalist and one of the best clay court players in the game, Monfils showed smarts, patience and the variety in his game that I think will take him to the top one day (not now mind you, but one day in the very distant future). Monfils handled Ferrer relatively easily, winning the match in convincing fashion 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 to advance to his first Grand Slam semifinal where he’ll meet Roger Federer.

Going into today’s match against Spaniard I thought Monfils had a real shot if he could just stay within himself. On a slow, heavy claycourt Ferrer is going to have trouble putting balls away especially against a speedy guy like Monfils. The key was just how much patience Gael would show, and how well he would recognize when to attack and when to defend. And to his credit he did both exceptionally well. I thought he played a near-flawless match, probably the best of his career.

But the celebrations hopefully won’t last long for Gael, for up next is Federer. And the Swiss, unlike Ferrer, is going to absolutely tattoo those off-speed groundstrokes that line in the middle of the court Monfils hits. So Gael’s going to do a lot of running against Fed. But if Roger has a few more off sets like he did at the start against Fernando Gonzalez today I think Monfils will have a chance.

As for the off sets (or mono sets if you will), let’s just say if Fed wants to beat Rafa in the final he better get that straightened out quick. It’s not going to work.

I’ll go more into that match as well as the Nadal-Djokovic semifinal tomorrow (did I mention what a great semifinal lineup it is?).

As for the women, we have a Russian semifinal and a Serbian semifinal at the French Open this year. Without Justine Henin or Serena it doesn’t have that Slam feel, but some of the tennis has been rather dramatic, especially from Dinara Safina who has saved match points in her last two wins over Maria Sharapova and against today against the choking Elena Dementieva.

My guess is Svetlana won’t do Dinara any more favors tomorrow by gagging, so Dinara’s run ends Thursday in straights. (Plus, she’s got to be a little tired after today’s match.).

Picking between the two Serbs is tough. Jelena likes to keep it in play while Ana really whacks it around the court. Ana has looked sharper thus far and I think she’ll hit just enough winners to get by setting up the Sveta-Ana final.

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10 Comments for The Monfils Magical Mystery Tour Continues at French Open

Spirit Says:

“Sveta Ana” means “Holly Ana” in Serbian >:)

It will be interesting to see whether Monfils is ready to keep up with good results in a sequence. I wouldn’t go so far and name him a potential No.1, but if he stays clear from the injuries, he could definitely be a regular Top10-er.

ckr Says:

Ferrer is not US open finalist. He was only a semi finalist in 2007.

Agassifan Says:

I Think the Fed-Nadal final will be different from the previous years – either Nadal will straight set Fed, or Fed will beat Nadal in 4 sets (just depends on who is “on” that day). Its not going to be a close 5-setter.

Yes, I am assuming Fed and nadal will win. I think they have about equal chances of winning their semis.

andrea Says:

novak had to play out of his mind for 3 sets in hamburg to even make it challenging for nadal. over 5 sets? no way.

monfils can cause some trouble but he ain’t gonna have a giveaway like mardy fish did a few months ago.

michael Says:

dude. have you been watching monfils play? the guy puts nothing on his groundstrokes. his technique on the forehand is horrible, no extension at all. all monfils can do well is run around the court, and nest himself like 15 feet behind the baseline. as mcenroe would say, that is not a winning proposition for him. also, dont you just want to barf when you see his service motion? what kind of player thinks to himself, “hmm, andy roddick has a great serve, i think i’ll copy his exact movements, and i’ll have a great serve too.” doesn’t work like that gael…its just ineffective and contrived.

grendel Says:

Monfils has denied that he copied Roddick’s serve, and said that he found some old video , of him serving in days before he’d seen Roddick, which can confirm this. Monfils strikes me as truthful.

Samprazzz Says:

Monfils has a great shot at beating Fed today. He can run down Fed’s shots, and make Fed play longer rallies- which Fed does not like to do. Fed is going to have to come to the net, I think, to take advantage of Monfils being way behind the baseline.

jane Says:

Rafa just pummeling Novak at the moment; after taking the first set he’s up a break in the second. And it’s not like Djoko is playing badly – except for his 1st serve %. More errors too, because Rafa is THE king of long rallies and players either go for too much or get tired.

I cannot see anyone beating Rafa here.

jane Says:

The Terminator comes to mind, actually. LOL.

Deano Says:

I think that Roger F. had gotten his negative sets behind him early and Monfils will be hard pressed to beat the #1 just yet. The books do not think that Gael has a chance….

Nadal will not be denied his fourth chanpionship in as many years.

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