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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Monfils pulls out of French Open due to injury


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Paris: Gael Monfils on Thursday pulled out of the French Open with a wrist injury after Tuesday’s extraordinary three hour 47 minute first-round rollercoaster against Sebastian Baez.

“Physically, I’m quite fine,” he said on Wednesday night. “I was quite happy this morning. I woke up quite well. But I had a problem with my wrist that I cannot solve.

“The doctor says it was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely [he] say I should stop,” he told reporters.

Despite this, Tuesday night’s gutsy match against Baez will long stay in the minds of tennis fans. It is unlike any match he’s played in Paris, Monfils said, a special kind of internal fire creating the most memorable of Grand Slam moments.

“It’s definitely in the top two [here],” he said after the match, remembering a similar encounter in the third round in 2015 against Pablo Cuevas. “This one was another flavour: I’m older, and [had] even less chance to win this match today.”

He added, on second thoughts: “Yeah, top two, top one,” Roland-Garros portal reported.

Monfils’ masterful fightback on Tuesday night was something never quite seen before, particularly in the still-fresh time slot of the evening session on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Trailing Baez 0-4 and by two breaks of serve in the fifth set, the 36-year-old French veteran dug his heels deep into the familiar Chatrier clay. And wouldn’t budge.

“What I did was very gutsy, from my guts,” Monfils said of his 38th win at this event, where he debuted in 2005. “I thought, ‘Oh, hell no… I don’t want to have a love-six [fifth set].”

“I was dead,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything.”

Yet as he began to turn the tide, Chatrier became not just his home court but his own personal cheering section, thousands strong. Horns blared, “Allez Gael!” rang out, the national anthem was sung.

“It’s one of my best matches, the best sports moment I could experience,” he said. “I loved it. I didn’t expect this at all.”

At one point in the fifth, “I didn’t even know where I was,” he admitted.


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