Gael Monfils is having a fantastic tennis season.
The Frenchman has made it the US Open semifinals where he’ll be facing off against world no. 1 Novak Djokovic this afternoon. Djokovic holds the edge in their previous 12 face-offs, having won every single one of them. He defeated him in the Roger’s Cup Masters 1,000 event, in the semis there too.
However, the Paris-born tennis player is coming off a terrific season. He hasn’t lost a set yet in this US Open and he’s 19-2 on hard courts since Wimbledon. The #10 player is also looking very relaxed in this competition. He was filmed earlier in the tournament playing tennis in pouring rain and yesterday he was having the time of his life playing a fun doubles round with his hitting partners. Any sign of the back problems that forced him to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open in Ohio last month are nowhere to be seen.
Djokovic is not looking as dominant as he did earlier in the year. He has had the easiest draw out all of the top players, winning three with gifted withdrawals due to injuries from three of his recent opponents, including the last easy win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who retired in the third round of their quarterfinal match.
The Serbian was also ousted in the first round of the Olympic Games in Rio, losing to crowd favorite Juan Martin del Potro. Del Potro lost two days ago, but perhaps a Djokovic US Open victory isn’t guaranteed anymore. He’s playing well, but Monfils is playing perhaps the best tennis of his life.
The French player was also the surprise winner of the ATP event in Washington, D. C., the CitiOpen, at the beginning of the hardcourt season. Always a crowd favorite, known for his entertaining flair and risk-taking shot making, he didn’t disappoint the DC audience as he came back and won the final, clinching the title 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4.
Plagued by injuries early in the year and last year, he performed remarkable well at the level-500. During the run, he beat the next generation most-talked about players Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev. No only that, but he also took our Sam Querry, who had just ousted world no. 1 Djokovic in Wimbledon, to make it to the DC Final, where he faced the best server in the world, Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic. What was phenomenal was not that he won the Citi Open by saving match point from Karlovic and winning the second set tie break.
Gael Monfils showed remarkable resolve to come back from the CitiOpen second set tie break. Perhaps he will draw on that strength today against Djokovic. But as any tennis fan knows, you’ll need everything in your arsenal against the #1 ranked player.