Heading into the French Open, many were backing Gael Monfils to go far at his home Slam, with some predicting him for the title. However, Monfils had to make a heartbreaking withdrawal, and will be in action for the first time since Rome when he takes to the court at Wimbledon this year.
Notable results to date
Withdrawing from the French Open would always be disappointing for Monfils, though it no doubt hurt this year after a strong start to 2016.
Often seen as someone who preferred putting on a show rather than consistently winning matches, Monfils has had a solid start to the year and seems to have a renewed focus. The charismatic Frenchman made the finals in Rotterdam and the Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo, losing to Rafael Nadal. These runs, in relatively strong tournaments, showed an extra focus in Monfils’ outlook and aren’t the only strong results he has had this year.
The signs were promising early on in 2016, where he reached the last eight at the Australian Open, whilst he also made runs to the quarterfinals in Indian Wells and Miami. There were however, early losses in Rome and Madrid before his withdrawal from Roland Garros.
Grass court preparation for Wimbledon
Monfils has decided to not enter any grass court warm up events for Wimbledon this year. This is unusual for him, but the Frenchman decided to rest after his illness and has instead focused on practicing on the surface.
Best result at Wimbledon
Surprisingly, Monfils has never done well at Wimbledon before; it is the only major where he hasn’t made the second week, losing in the third round a staggering five times.
The latest of these brief runs came in 2015, which happened to be the first time he had made the round of 64 since 2011. Monfils impressed with straight sets wins over Pablo Carreno Busta and Adrian Mannarino, before losing to fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon in five sets; a match he could have taken a two-set lead in, and could have easily won.
To be fair to Monfils, he has not always faced the easiest opponents in his third round clashes. In 2007 he fell to 4th seed Nikolay Davydenko, whilst he fell to former champion Lleyton Hewitt in 2010 and 10th seed Mario Ancic in 2005.
How Monfils’ game translates to the surface
Though he hasn’t always had the easiest opponents, it is surprising that Monfils hasn’t had more success on the surface as his style of play can work effectively on grass.
The Frenchman has tonnes of power and is easily able to create speed from this, and combined with the speed of grass courts this can make Monfils extremely difficult to face on the grass. Also, Monfils is a big server, so can also use the speed from the surface to dictate play early on in his service games.
Furthermore, Monfils is extremely athletic. This means that the pace on court may bother him less, as he can still get to more balls than other players could.