Fatigued Monfils promises he will return to NZ
DAVID LONG IN MELBOURNE
Star French tennis player Gael Monfils has apologised for not making it to this year's Heineken Open, but has vowed to come back to New Zealand.
On the eve of this year's event in Auckland, tournament director Karl Budge announced that Monfils, one of his top two players for the Heineken Open after Spain's David Ferrer, wouldn't be coming.
Budge stated that Monfils had told him he was too fatigued to come to Auckland after making it to the final in Doha the week before, where he lost to Rafael Nadal in the third set.
In an exclusive interview with Monfils at the Australian Open, Monfils told Sunday News that it wasn't easy for him to skip coming to Auckland and go direct to Melbourne.
"I was disappointed not to come and it was a tough decision," Monfils said. "For the first week of the season I made the final and I worked very hard to do that.
"It was great that I got to the final and it wasn't what I expected. After it, I felt my body was great, I didn't have an injury, but I was fatigued.
"It would have been tough to fly to Auckland, arrive on the Monday afternoon and have to play the next day.
"I have had trouble with my body for years and years, so this was a decision I made with my agent and people who also care about me. That's because this is tough, I'm not a machine.
"It was disappointing not to go there because I love Auckland and last year they gave me a wildcard to play there.
"I appreciated that and I'll always be thankful for that.
"I have already said to my agent that I'm looking to play in Auckland again next year and maybe I won't play the week before.
"I didn't come this year, but for sure you will see me back there."
Monfils knew that there were posters of him around Auckland for a month before the tournament to promote it. An easy option for him would have been to come to Auckland, pick up his appearance fee and tank his first round match, but he says that's not his style.
"I understand about [the posters], but it was just that I was fatigued and for me it was tough to do what I did.
"But I'm honest, it was too much. It would have been easier for me to go to Auckland, play, then maybe retire after one set.
"I have a lot of respect for the fans in Auckland. It might be difficult for them to understand why I wasn't able to come, but I hope in the end they do appreciate why I had to make the decision I did.
"I'll tell you the truth, I do love to play in Doha too, but whenever I get to play a week before the Australian Open it will be in Auckland."
- © Fairfax NZ News