The cold shower seven months later. On February 28 in Dubai, Gaël Monfils was very close to overthrowing Novak Djokovic (2-6, 7-6, 6-1) for the first time in his career, even obtaining three match points. After a long period of absence due to confinement, the Parisian was back on the courts in Rome this Thursday against Dominik Koepfer, 97th in the ATP ranking. A player within his reach but who nevertheless largely dominated the debates on the clay of Rome (6-2, 6-4).
“I’m pretty excited to play it (the Rome tournament). I had a great start to the year. I felt really good, strong. I have worked well the last few weeks so I feel confident. There’s no reason I can’t shine again“, nevertheless declared to The team before the second round of this Masters 1000. But once again, the French player disappointed on the clay courts of Rome: four eliminations in a row as soon as he entered the running.
For his return to this area that he appreciates, Gaël Monfils started the match by conceding his first two service games. If he was able to pick up from the start (1-1), the French player missed a break point at 2-1. By finally taking the advantage (3-1), the striker Alex De Minaur in the previous round was able to lead the exchanges and caused the errors of the Frenchman, author of 31 unforced errors this Thursday, to easily win the first round.
By winning his throw-in at the start of the second set, Gaël Monfils got back on track. But . On his return to the court, the Parisian obtained a break point to lead 2-0. Lacking rhythm and sometimes nervous in the exchanges, the 9th player in the world did not know how to seize the opportunity. Then the two men gave each other a pass to 3-3. It was at this point in the match that the German was able to win another break to go to the final victory. While Gaël Monfils already has his head turned towards, Dominik Koepfer will face in the round of 16. Everything but a gift.
“Tension and a faltering level of play, that’s also what we want to see in tennis”