Monfils Keeps Up Perfect Run Into Semis
Frenchman yet to drop a set
Friendships don't matter when you step onto a tennis court. Lucas Pouille had taken out Rafael Nadal in a dramatic five-set battle in the US Open fourth round. But it came at a price. With Pouille fatigued, his good friend and countryman Gael Monfils showed no mercy, reaching his first US Open semi-final with a resounding 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I'm happy with my performance. I think it is never easy to play a quarter-final against a French guy. I think I handled it pretty good mentally,” Monfils said. “I'm happy with that and where my game is.”
It could be an all-French affair again in the semi-finals, but World No. 1 Novak Djokovic still holds the power to deny a French finalist at Flushing Meadows. The Serbian takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the night session, with the winner to face Monfils in the last four. It is the first time in the Open Era that three Frenchmen have reached the quarter-finals of the same Grand Slam event.
“I think we all work hard, and somehow we make it in the same moment,” Monfils said.
The 10th-seeded Monfils has been untouchable so far in New York. The Frenchman, who celebrated his 30th birthday last week, has won all 15 sets in his campaign and has compiled a 19-2 record on hard courts since Wimbledon.
Working with Mikael Tillstrom this season, Monfils has produced one of his career-best campaigns. The Frenchman is in strong contention to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time after winning his sixth ATP World Tour title in Washington (d. Karlovic) and reaching the finals in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal) and Rotterdam (l. to Klizan). Monfils is currently eighth in the Emirates ATP Race to London, with the top eight players at the end of the regular season set to compete at The O2.
“My health has been big trouble all my career, and now it is somehow stabilized,” Monfils said. “I think it helps me a lot to be stronger.”
Monfils is through to his second Grand Slam semi-final after improving to 2-6 in major quarter-finals. Since his first semi-final at Roland Garros eight years ago, the Parisian had suffered six successive defeats at this stage.
But he was in a ruthless mood as he dismissed Pouille’s challenge in just over two hours. The ailing Pouille desperately searched for the high-quality tennis that saw him topple Nadal two nights earlier, but just came up short. The 23 year old, contesting his second Grand Slam quarter-final of the season, committed 44 unforced errors, compared to only 15 from Monfils, and won just 33 per cent of points behind his second serve.
“He's in very good form,” Pouille said. “He's moving so well. When you come to the net, he always pushes you to the limit. He always puts one more ball in the court. So if you want to make a winner, you have to make the perfect shot.”