Gael Monfils: This Week’s Player To Watch (May 19-May 25)

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Every week, LastWordOnTennis will highlight a player to keep an eye on as tournaments are played around the world. This week’s selection is Gael Monfils.

After some of the densest weeks in the calendar, the ATP Tour is a little quieter in the run up to Roland Garros. Two 250-level events, Geneva and Lyon, will take place this week, and two more, Parma and Belgrade 2, will take place next week.

With Roger Federer losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva, where should spectators turn their attention? It may be a bit of a risky choice, but the world #14, Gael Monfils, is our pick for this week’s player to watch at the Lyon Open.

Back in the winner’s circle

Eight losses in a row. That’s the losing streak Monfils had been on before he arrived in Lyon.

Before he lost to Djokovic in Dubai in 2020, where he’d held a couple of match points, he’d been on a 12-match winning streak, the longest streak of his career. After Djokovic, Monfils couldn’t seem to find the winning formula again, losing to players with an average rank of #49.

That’s all changed here in Lyon. Monfils picked up his first win in 15 months against lucky loser, Thiago Seyboth Wild. Nothing groundbreaking but it’s a start. The Frenchman has shown he is a streaky player – hopefully the fan favourite can build some momentum from this potentially important win.

Inspired in front of a crowd

Part of the reason Monfils has found it so tough recently is due to the pandemic–not being able to play in front of a crowd, Monfils has found it difficult to motivate himself.

“It was very tough for me. That’s why I think I haven’t played so much this year… This is not the sort of atmosphere I like to play in. I really like the communication with the fans, with the crowd, their energy. I’ve been struggling quite a lot.”

Monfils showed he can muster up his own fight, winning his first match on the ATP Tour without a crowd.

He won’t need to motivate himself in his next match against Yoshihito Nishioka. Spectators are now allowed to watch the matches which could lead to Monfils finding a new lease of life on the tennis court.

It’s Monfils…

The last point barely needs explaining.

Monfils is one of, if not thee, most entertaining players on the ATP Tour. Tweeners, jump smashes, no look passing shots, athletic theatrics, 100mph groundstrokes–you name it, the tour stalwart has probably done it.

If you want to be entertained, look no further!

This Week’s Player To Watch

With a crowd to please and a win under his belt, Monfils will be looking to turn on his tennis charm more so than he has in the last fifteen months. He has had little consolation in his losses with few hot shots to boast since the pandemic struck – the further he gets in the draw this week, the more inspired and entertaining his tennis will be.

If you love Monfils as much as every other tennis fan, you’ll be pleased to see him back to winning ways. Be sure to catch him against Yoshihito Nishioka this Thursday!

Main Photo from Getty.