Don’t Ignore the Potential Gael Force that Could Hit Flushing Meadows

Gael Monfils

Fans of the mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils are no stranger to terrifying lows – when he is in a lull he can make Eugenie Bouchard’s form seem like a minor blip.

On the other hand, Monfils has had a more decent than normal grass court season. This included a deep run to the final at the Aegon International, Eastbourne. Where he eventually succumbed to a rare bout of form, this season, anyway, against a pre-injury ravaged Novak Djokovic in the final.

In the semifinals of that event, Gael was at his most consistent and showed level headedness throughout a pulsating, mammoth contest against compatriot Richard Gasquet. He saved match point to seal a tight three set victory and, what is more he seemed focused and resolute throughout.

The Frenchman needs to rediscover his hard-court touch

Gael Monfils normally finds a level of form on the American outdoor hard-court stretch. With the way he applied himself on grass, not this clay courter’s natural surface, signs are there that he can make everyone else’s injury become his peak. Last year’s victory in the Citi Open, in Washington, beating Alexander Zverev and Ivo Karlovic in the semis and the final, respectively, shows that in the not so distant past, this puzzling character was and still could be a real threat. However, there is always a flipside with Gael and it represented his first tournament win for two year. A run to the semi-finals of the US Open 2016 topped off a sterling end to the season. Novak Djokovic, again, put an end to his run in four sets.

A year on and this hard court form–and the less expected grass court run of form–seems a lifetime away. Defeats at the hands of Indian sensation Yuki Bhambri (Washington) and Roberto Bautista-Agut (Canadian Open) early on in hard-court tournaments recently have impeded Gael Monfils from establishing himself on the American hard-court stretch. We all know that he could spring into life at Flushing Meadows and pick up from last year.

Monfils needs to eat into head-to-head deficits against Federer and Nadal to nab first Grand Slam

However, this season has seen hints of the Frenchman realising his evident potential. He certainly needs to go further in order to topple the likes of Roger Federer, if fit, and Rafael Nadal. Against these players he holds a 4-9 and 2-13 record respectively. In his favour, he does hold hard-court victories over both of the above-mentioned giants of the game. This includes a US Open victory over Nadal, albeit back in 2009. However, fans of the Frenchman need to take any crumbs of hope available.

Another crumb of hope can be gleaned from the fact that Monfils, throughout his career has been able to muster self-belief and snatch victory from the abyss of defeat. To win a Slam you normally have to do this at least once.

Monfils needs to cut out the moody inconsistencies that creep into his game

Monfils’ promising grass court season was marred by injury that prevented him making too much progress at Wimbledon. Since then, it’s been a largely frustrating time for the Frenchman and his followers. Traces of moodiness and lack of focus have crept into the Frenchman’s psyche. His absence from the Cincinnati last week suggests that he and his team might be giving this aspect some needed attention.

Given the depletion of this year’s US Open through injury or lack of fitness detracting from the strength in depth , this could be Gael Monfils’ year–if he is ever to have one, that is.