Monfils All Grown Up In Career-Best Year
Flashy Frenchman makes his Barclays ATP World Tour Finals debut
This year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals features plenty of regular faces making their annual appearance at the O2, but one of the most popular veterans in tennis is also making his deserved debut at the season finale, which begins at The O2 in London on 13 November.
Gael Monfils qualified for the first time after producing a career-best season in 2016. Having started the year at No. 25 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 30-year-old Frenchman now sits at a career-high standing of No. 6.
Monfils largely attributes the remarkable run of form he’s had this year to his team.
“[Coach] Mikael [Tillstrom] helped me a lot, but my fitness coach gets a lot of credit as well. They’ve both done a great job,” said Monfils. “Mikael jumped on the team last year and we’ve changed a lot. I’ve changed my routine, the way I practise and recover. It’s been working well.”
The Frenchman won the biggest title of his career at the Citi Open in Washington (d. Karlovic), in addition to reaching his first Masters 1000 final since 2010 at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. Nadal). Monfils also finished runner-up at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. Klizan) and produced another big run at a Masters 1000 event with a semi-final showing at the Rogers Cup (l. Djokovic).
But Monfils is far from content with simply going deep in tournaments. Although he managed to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final in eight years at the US Open (l. Djokovic), he described the experience as bittersweet.
“I was happy, but very disappointed, to be honest,” admitted Monfils. “I had such high expectations for the last [Grand Slam]. But it definitely helped me to have more belief in myself and put in a lot of work to be even stronger.”
His view on one of the biggest results of his career is a testament to the improved temperament and more measured approach that Monfils has shown both on and off the court. Gone are the days when he would lose focus for long stretches of a match or not bring his best tennis to tournaments. Monfils has long had the talent to place himself among the world’s elite players, but now has the mentality to go with it.
“People forget that we grow up," said Monfils. "I turned 30 and we have a different view on life now. It’s just a general change in my mentality and living style. All of this helped me change my routine more easily with Mikael, because I was changing my way of living in other ways as well.”
Although Monfils was forced to pull out of last week’s BNP Paribas Masters with a rib injury, he has already been practising at The O2 and appears ready to make a big run in the last tournament of the season. He features in Group Ivan Lendl alongside Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem.
“The end of the season is always tough. Mentally, it’s been very demanding for myself,” said Monfils. “But I feel very confident because I’ve won a lot of matches. I feel my game is not very far from the top, so I’m in good spirits and with a lot of hope.”