Gael Monfils will not play against Holger Rune in the Roland Garros second round on Thursday night. Two rivals should have met in the night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier, but the Frenchman decided to withdraw and leave the event due to a wrist injury!
The news will break the hearts of all those who wanted to see the veteran in action against the young gun, especially after an epic victory over Sebastian Baez in the first round. The doctors advised Gael to withdraw, risking more serious issues if he played another duel.
The 36-year-old took seven months off the court following a foot injury in Montreal last year. Monfils entered Roland Garros ranked 394th and with a 0-4 score in 2023, changing that on his beloved court in great style! Monfils prevailed over Baez 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in three hours and 47 minutes for his first ATP win since August.
Gael gave everything to beat the rival and cramps, bouncing back from 4-0, 40-30 down in the decider to emerge at the top and celebrate one of his most emotional wins in a career at 12:19 am! Gael was on the verge of defeat thanks to his shaky second serve, facing 20 break points and losing serve nine times.
Baez also grabbed nine breaks, opening a massive advantage in the decider but failing to endure the pressure from the other side and the French crowd. Instead of moving 5-0 up and toward victory, the Argentine dropped seven of the final eight games to experience a significant disappointment.
Gael sprayed 70 unforced errors, but they came before that fifth set's fifth game. The Frenchman made an incredible comeback and controlled the pace in the rest of the duel, playing aggressive tennis and moving over the top with a lucky net cord winner in the 12th game.
They traded breaks in the middle of the opener, and Baez secured another in the eighth game after Monfils' loose forehand. The Argentine held at love at 5-3 to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes.
Gael Monfils withdrew ahead of the Roland Garros second round!
They traded breaks at love in the second set's games six and seven, and Gael earned another for 5-3. The crowd favorite held at 30 in the ninth game to clinch the set and gain a boost, ready to fight until the end. Monfils grabbed an early break in the third set and kept the advantage until game eight, when he lost serve at love to bring the rival to the positive side.
The home hero faced three set points at 4-5, denied them with powerful serves and escaped. Gael fired a backhand winner in game 11 for a break at love. The Frenchman saved two set points while serving at 6-5 and held with a service winner to move two sets to one in front after two hours and 22 minutes and make the crowd erupt in joy!
Baez made a fresh start in the fourth set, barely losing a point behind the initial shot and delivering two breaks to force a decider. Monfils gave it away, throwing everything on the decider. However, he could not find the rhythm, experiencing two breaks of serve and falling 4-0, 40-30 behind!
The veteran made one last push and forced the rival's mistake to avoid a complete disaster and guaranteed defeat! Monfils raised his level and held with a backhand winner at the net for 1-4. The crowd stood by their hero, who pulled one break back at love in game six.
Monfils held at love in game seven and locked the result at 4-4 after Baez's wayward forehand in the next one that would cost him dearly. Sebastian broke at love in game nine and served for the victory at 5-4. Struggling physically, Gael made one last push and cracked a forehand winner to secure a break at 15 and prolong the battle!
The Frenchman held at 15 in game 11 with a backhand down the line winner, giving everything and asking for more energy from the spectators. Baez served to stay in the match at 5-6 and squandered a game point. Monfils earned two match points and seized the second with a backhand down the line winner after a lucky net cord to celebrate his 526th and one of the most cherished ATP wins.
"I have a problem with my wrist that I can not come over. I had exams, and the doctor said playing would not be good and that I should stop," Gael Monfils said.
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