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Australian Open: Gaël Monfils finds the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament

The upturn in French tennis in the Antipodes continues. If Adrian Mannarino saw his course at the Australian Open interrupted, Sunday January 23, by Rafael Nadal at the stage of the round of 16 (defeat 7-6 [14], 6-2, 6-2), Gaël Monfils continues on his way. The recent winner of the Adelaide tournament – ​​preparatory to the first Grand Slam tournament of the year – won on Sunday against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic (7-5, 7-6, 6-3) and climbed Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2016.

Opposed to 77and world player, who benefited in some way from the expulsion from Australia of Novak Djokovic following a showdown with the authorities of the mainland country (Kecmanovic was to face his compatriot world number one in the first round of the tournament), Monfils did not have it easy. ” I go outside Good tiredness ! He was very hot, humid… I knew he was playing well,” said blew the French in a press conference after the game.

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Former world number one among young people, his Serbian opponent was eye-catching, and could have worried the 35-year-old Frenchman, as was the case this fall during the Masters 1000 at Paris-Bercy (victory for Monfils in three sets).

But on the important points, especially at the end of the first round, the experience of the veteran tricolor prevailed. “In the tie-break [du premier set], it was necessary to put a blow of collar, and I let go a long forehand of crazy line, observes Monfils. You had to try it, it’s confidence, work. I made millions, billions [à l’entraînement]. It must be launched at this time in a match. »

Among the ladies, Alizé Cornet can imitate him on Monday

In a difficult meeting, the French number one drew energy from the opposition of part of the Australian public. “The public against me, that excited me. They talked too much, it bored me, and that’s good motivation, ” insists Gael Monfils. Exuberant on the court, the Frenchman likes to put on a show, for or against the public, and enjoys playing again in front of full speakers. “It helped me because it released me. Thanks to them. »

Eliminated in the first round of the Australian Grand Slam tournament last year, the first false step heralding a difficult year, the Frenchman continues his journey in Melbourne. Qualified for the quarter-finals – the tenth of a Major in his career – for the second time in Australia after 2016, he is now aiming for the last four.

On Tuesday, he will face Matteo Berrettini (world number 7), his last opponent in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. In 2019, the Italian won the US Open in five sets. “I want to do even better and I will try to play it better than my last quarter, warns Monfils. I have desire of Carry on at to push and go the more far possible. »

After a year 2021 without any player managing to reach the round of 16 of a Grand Slam tournament, French tennis is breathing a little at the start of the year. At 32, Alizé Cornet will have the opportunity on Monday to qualify for the first quarter-final of a Major of his career, thirteen years after his first round of 16 in Melbourne.

She will have to get the better of the Romanian Simona Halep (world number 15). “It’s not a dream, it’s just an ambition that is completely plausible, insisted the Frenchwoman on Saturday. A dream is something utopian, which will never happen, while going beyond the quarter in a Grand Slam, I’ve been thinking about it since I was 19 years old. »

If French tennis is still far from having recovered from its difficult years, Gaël Monfils seems to have found his game. ” The, I play Good. Corn for to earn Tuesday, he will have to than I play very Good. »

The World with AFP

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