Frenchman Monfils more than a wildcard
Faces No 5 Ferrer in Open semifinalDAVID LONG
Gael Monfils has lived up to everything anyone would have hoped for during his time at the Heineken Open.
He beat Tommy Haas 3-6 7-5 6-3 in the quarterfinals last night, in two hours of thrilling tennis and today plays world No 5 David Ferrer in the second semifinal of the day.
It has all the credentials to be another stunning match.
Monfils doesn't go out of his way to be a showman in the way Ilie Nastase did in the 1970s, it all just comes natural to him.
When asked last night if even he was surprised by some of his shots, he replied: "It depends which one.
"I am not being cocky, but some I know I can do. I did it in the past and I know I can do it because I have fun at practice and do it.
"But some are ridiculous and that's good."
He does make it look all too easy at times, it is part of his brilliance, but it's also the frustrating side of his game.
He will go down 0-30 on his serve, looking like he can't be bothered playing anymore, but then he'll fire off a couple of aces and win a couple more baseline rallies to take the game.
He saved a remarkable 15 of the 17 break points last night, the type of statistic rarely seen in tennis.
"I never felt confident [of saving the break points], but I think my serve helped me a lot and I had a good percentage of first serves at those moments," Monfils said.
"I tried a couple of things and they worked, but I would love to have less break points to save, that would be better."
Having dropped to 99 in the world rankings because of a knee injury that kept him off the circuit for five months last year, Monfils is relishing being back in the big time and going so deep in an ATP tournament.
"I am happy because it has been a while since I won three matches in a row like this," he said.
"But still, I am not 100 per cent happy with the way I played because it was 99 per cent defence and I think I had much luck to win this match.
"I served good but in the end I need to be more aggressive and I'm not happy about that."
Monfils has won all three of his previous matches against Ferrer and he knows the Spaniard will run everything down, so the big issue for him will be his fitness.
"It is a massive challenge for sure and it will be very hard," Monfils said.
"I don't know how I will be tomorrow, if I will have sore legs or my back will be painful.
"But whatever happens I will compete, fight and try my best. I know David is a tough opponent and for sure it's going to be physical, but with myself I never know what's going to happen."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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