Tennis: Fatigue gets the better of Monfils

By Michael Brown

Franchman Gael Monfils folded in just 48 minutes today. Photo / Greg Bowker
Franchman Gael Monfils folded in just 48 minutes today. Photo / Greg Bowker

Gael Monfils admitted on the eve of his semifinal with David Ferrer that, "with me, you never know what will happen''.

What happened at the Heineken Open today was a huge disappointment as the show-stopping Frenchman folded 6-1 6-2 in just 48 minutes to the world No 5 and two-time defending champion.

It all went horribly wrong when Monfils woke up and realised he felt sore. After a two-hour epic against third seed Tommy Haas the night before, on top of a three-setter earlier in the week, the 26-year-old had nothing left in the tank.

When he strained a thigh in the third game of the match, it was essentially all over. Monfils was beaten physically and mentally.

"I think David was too strong for me today,'' said Monfils, who called for the trainer twice in the first set. "It was very tough. I was tired, my legs were sore so it was, for me, very hard to compete and very hard to stay with the fighting spirit because I know even when I am not tired it's going to be a physical game [against Ferrer].

"When you are strong physically, you are strong mentally. It's a big weapon when you know you can run for three hours and have no drop. It makes you feel like it's impossible to beat you.''

Ferrer didn't need to do much more than get the ball back today and it was a massive disappointment for the capacity crowd at Stanley St who had all hoped to see a continuation of the Monfils stage show. In many ways his thrashing was just that because he has epitomised this week the true meaning of the term wildcard, which he needed to play at the Heineken Open.

But he can also play a bit, and it has given him encouragement that he can recapture the sort of form that saw him rise to No 7 in the world in 2011.

He dazzled with his repertoire of shots, court coverage and big serve and, incredibly, saved 25 of 28 break points against him before his blowout against Ferrer.

He showed his game is still in good shape, he just needs a body to match it after missing three-and-a-half months with a knee injury last year.

"I think for two weeks in a row I have had tough matches, no pain,'' Monfils said. "I think physically I am getting better and better. I think things are going good and hopefully we can keep going like this. I have no doubt that if I keep going this way, I will be back [near the top] soon.''

He's also keen to return to the Heineken Open, which is good news. What the crowd will get is difficult to predict.

- APNZ

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