“There aren’t many guys who have beaten Usain Bolt” in search of rhythm. , from the second test of the Masters 1000 in Madrid.
Until then, duels with Djokovic have never smiled on Monfils: in seventeen face-to-face matches, the 35-year-old Frenchman has never won. Although, during the last date, in February 2020 in Dubai, he led by set and rest, then got three match points before being knocked down by the world No.1 (2 -6, 7-6 (8 / 6).), 6-1).
So is there any reason to take advantage of the “Djoko” 2022 version, away from the circuit for almost the entire first quarter, marked by the incredible soap opera of his expulsion from Australia, for lack of vaccination against Covid-19?
“Honestly, he has more games than me, he has more pace,” Monfils said in reference to recent weeks.
Practically stopped until April (three matches in Dubai in February), the Serb has effectively put the machine back on the road ever since, with the return of the circuit to Europe.
If he is still looking for the rhythm and looking for his best level, between Monte Carlo (eliminated from the start by Davidovich) and Belgrade (final lost against Rublev), he still played five games in two weeks, all in three sets. .
– Just a precedent on ocher –
On the contrary, Monfils was left without competition for a month before the Madrid tournament.
Before his very quiet 6-3, 6-0 victory in 55 minutes on Monday at the expense of Spanish guest Carlos Gimeno, beyond the 350th place in the world, he had not played since the end of March (3rd round in Miami) . and had lost just before Monte Carlo for “foot discomfort.”
“It’s a game today, but it doesn’t tell me where I’m really from. It has games, it’s gaining strength little by little, I see that it’s playing better and better, so it’s going to be complicated,” he said. compare.
“We talk a lot about Novak, but I’m not 100% either yet,” continues French No.1, who “stopped for ten whole days” to rest his sore foot.
Only one match was played between Djokovic and Monfils on clay. It dates back sixteen years to Roland-Garros in 2006 (7-6, 7-6, 6-3 in the round of 16).
Does World No.1 seem more accessible to you in ocher than in hard, your favorite surface? “I honestly don’t think so,” replied the fourth finalist of the 2022 Australian Open.
“Hard or hard, it’s the same: he has a way of playing that I don’t like. He manages to find my weaknesses every time, he continues. He’s just stronger than me. When someone is stronger He’s stronger than me. You, “He’s stronger than you. You can beat him once, maybe two, three times. I never did. But not many guys beat Usain Bolt!”
– Puglia-Tsitsipas Wednesday –
“If he smiles at me tomorrow (Tuesday), I’ll take it. But I’m not in top shape either,” Monfils repeats.
Shortly before 1 a.m., Lucas Pouille, who is pursuing his best level since a right elbow operation in July 2020, offered him his most prestigious victory in almost three years (August 2019) at the expense of Karen Khachanov (26) 6-3, 6-4. Only his third of the season on the main circuit.
The ex-top 10 has dropped beyond the 150th place in the world, on Wednesday he has an appointment with the world number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round.
The other two Frenchmen in the race fell from the start: Benoît Paire against Diego Schwartzman (6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1) and Ugo Humbert against Denis Shapovalov (7-6 (7 / 1)., 6-3).
Andy Murray, titanium hip since 2019, got his first victory (6-3, 6-4) on clay in almost five years (Roland-Garros 2017) against another comeback, Dominic Thiem, penalized for his thirty unforced errors.
The Austrian, ex-N.3 of the world today 91, was out of the circuit for ten months, between last June and mid-April, injured in his right wrist, and continues to pursue a first victory. He now has three defeats in as many weeks, in Belgrade, Estoril and Madrid.
In the women’s draw, we already know the poster of the quarterfinals: Simona Halep, who plays her first tournament under the supervision of Patrick Mouratoglou, against Ons Jabeur (10th), the last representative of the top 10 of the race. And Amanda Anisimova (33rd) against Ekaterina Alexandrova (45th).