Gael Monfils did things his way, and left an indelible mark on tennis

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /
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Bnp Paribas 2023 Day 3 Thompson Defeats Monfils5419
Bnp Paribas 2023 Day 3 Thompson Defeats Monfils5419 /

The play of Gael Monfils

The explosive power of Tsonga. Gasquet and his remarkable one-handed backhand. Simon with his grit and consistency across the board. Finally, Monfils and his supreme athleticism are matched only by his showmanship.

While playing tennis in high school and college myself, I modeled my game after Monfils and David Ferrer. I would intentionally react slowly to a ball so I would be required to do a sliding split to reach the ball. Those “oo’s and ahh’s” from the crowd never got old.

Just multiply that feeling by about 125 times and I understand why Monfils did what he did.

(To watch a highlight video of all the best Gael Monfils moments would take roughly 3 hours. However, something like this montage should get the point across.)

He did not have the grace and precision of Roger Federer. He doesn’t have the iron will of a Rafa Nadal. Nor has he ever had the mental strength on the court of a Novak Djokovic.

He was his own player, and it was almost as if he was painting a picture of chaos each time he stepped on the court. You got the feeling he didn’t have a game plan going on a lot of the time, he would react purely on feel.

There were numerous occasions where he would prefer to hit looping topspin shots back and keep rallies going even though we all knew he had the tools to end points at will. His massive forehand and serve would flash out of the blue making tennis fans and pundits ask why not more? I don’t even think Monfils would have a straight answer.

He once said; “For me, tennis is a sport, you know? It’s not a job, it’s a sport.” This attitude gave him the ability to play with a freedom that others cannot. Being a tennis player at the highest level is one of the most mentally taxing things you can do.