Barely started, this Roland-Garros 2020 is already over for Gaël Monfils. Seed number 8 in the tournament, and number 1 tricolor, he failed on Monday to get out of the trap set by Alexander Bublik, the 49th player in the world, who beat him in four sets (6-4, 7- 5, 3-6, 6-3) and 2h35 of play in the first round. The Parisian had not experienced such an early exit from the road for 15 years near the Porte d’Auteuil, and his first participation against Guillermo Cañas. It is a big blow for French tennis.
We knew he was in difficulty. In Rome and Hamburg, Gaël Monfils had not reassured, far from it, with two initial defeats, and especially two worrying performances. But often in the past, he had (badly) accustomed us to metamorphosis in Paris, despite preparations on clay that were often very worrying. On Monday, he was overtaken by the reality of the moment: without sensations, unable to maintain a high and constant intensity in his game, he was logically beaten by more fit than him.
58 unforced errors for a sad ordeal
Let’s be clear, Alexander Bublik is not a model of consistency either. His 48 unforced errors of the day are there to show it. But his constant aggressiveness, his entrepreneurial spirit throughout the game (also 47 winning moves) ended up paying off, facing a Monfils who gave the feeling of walking on a wire. And this from the start of the match during which he nevertheless made the entry break. It was a sham. Because if he was leading 3-0, he had already had to dismiss a host of break points. And it was Bublik who seemed to be enjoying himself on the court, like this magnificent lob-tweener, or an ace on spoon service later in the game.
By dint of playing with fire, Monfils ended up burning himself, conceding five consecutive games before giving up the first set. Nothing was however lost against an opponent who sometimes tends to come out of his matches on his own. The proof ? In the middle of the 2nd set, overwhelmed by an arbitration decision, Bublik literally offered the break and the opportunity to come back to height at Monfils. But the French did not want it. Unable to free himself from a tension which made him commit no less than 58 errors including 12 double faults. A new series of 4 games lost consecutively has put his back to the wall.
Lost for lost, the number 1 tricolor let go of the horses in the 3rd act, showing a lot of aggression to attack the second opposing ball. A little revived, he even broke quickly in the 4th set (6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 1-2), giving the impression of being able to overturn the table. But he was already out of gasoline in the engine and the light went out as quickly as it had dimly re-ignited. The “Gaël, Gaël! ” the handful of spectators on the Lenglen who came to support him will not have changed anything. Monfils left Roland with his head down. Sad as a cool autumn evening.