Monfils: ‘I’m Not Losing The Faith’
Gael Monfils suffered a heartbreaking five-set defeat against Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open quarter-finals, but the Frenchman’s resolve is as strong as ever.
“I will take a lot of positive things. Again, I put [myself in a] situation to beat a Top 10 player at the past two Slams in a row, so the past two times, really bad in a way,” said Monfils, who lost against Jannik Sinner in five sets at last year’s US Open. “I keep learning from that, but I feel like it's been always tough for me. It's still tough for me, but somehow I'm not losing the faith.
“I need one time... I won't win 20, but one time, just one time I need. I'm working for this. I still believe I can do it. It's hard. It's been 20 years that I'm not doing the good thing, but who knows? This year it might click.”
The 35-year-old was trying to reach his first Australian Open semi-final and advance to the last four at a major for the third time (2008 Roland Garros, 2016 US Open). Not much separated Monfils from that achievement.
“[On the] important points, [I need to] bring the ‘A’ game, and inside the court. It's easy to say, but inside the court, make the good choices. Either don't rush or you don't go for it. It's always a split second and boom, it's gone,” Monfils said. “The best, they are the best for that, because [in] the split second, they make the best decision. They know [how] to handle it better, the pressure. And this you cannot learn. It’s experience.”
It was the second time Monfils has lost a major quarter-final against Berrettini. They also went to a fifth set in the last eight at the 2019 US Open, where the Italian triumphed in a tie-break.
“He handled it good, played good, [has a] big game. Obviously my tactic was not up [to par] at the beginning, but as I said, I'm in shape, I have a strong belief, I play good,” Monfils said. “Of course he will have a tough time. I think I'm a good player. Not better than him, but good player. So no matter what, he needs to work to beat me.”
Regardless of his disappointment, Monfils has had a strong start to his 2022 season. He claimed his 11th ATP Tour title in Adelaide and is now 8-2 on the year. All eight of the Frenchman’s victories have come in straight sets.
“I’m working hard. I feel I played good. I was lucky to win a 250, but as I said, I'm gonna click, for sure, maybe go [to] a semi-final in a Slam, maybe more, play better in the [ATP] 500s, play better in the [ATP Masters] 1000s,” Monfils said. “It’s just [the] beginning of the year. It's a long season. So [I] will have some time for sure. I will go back at home with a positive energy [from] Australia this year.”