Relaxed Monfils Ready To Entertain

Frenchman sets sight on Tokyo success

Gael Monfils, the No. 2 seed at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016, is a hit wherever he goes. The flashy Frenchman believes that his fan appeal originates from the sincerity with which he approaches the sport.

“I’m a very natural person on the court. I try to be myself and forget about the pressure,” Monfils said. “Some may think that I am really trying to be entertaining, but for me that’s just the way that I enjoy playing the game. I’m happy to see that people like the way I play and that I help them have fun.”

The 30 year old’s charm has won him many fans in Tokyo, where he reached the semi-finals twice in three past appearances. Monfils made the semi-finals in 2009 (l. to Tsonga) and reached the final in 2010, falling to Rafael Nadal. Back for the first time since 2013, Monfils revealed that he has been approaching his physical preparation differently in recent years in order to gain an edge.

“My physio Gaetan and I have been working together since 2014, and over that time he has done a lot to give me the right tools to stay healthy and to recover between matches,” said Monfils. “We use a lot of Chinese medicine; we do acupuncture. I am not afraid of the needles, as I have many tattoos.”

Continued enthusiasm for tennis and improved health may well help Monfils qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time. The Frenchman is currently in sixth place in the Emirates ATP Race To London, 150 points clear of seventh-placed Dominic Thiem and trailing Tokyo top seed Kei Nishikori by 960 points.

“It’s not something that I am really thinking about yet,” Monfils said. “My objective right now is just to finish the season well and to win another title. If that helps me qualify for London, then it would be great. But my priority is to find a good level and to perform well at the events I play at.”

Monfils will face Japan’s Yuichi Sugita in the first round.

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