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Will Monfils be able to maintain his recent level of play?
Is there a more mercurial guy on the tour than Gael Monfils?
Blessed with extraordinary talent and athleticism, he’s struggled to consistently utilize those gifts throughout his career. Make no mistake: When he’s on, Monfils can beat anyone. Yet his biggest adversary has always been himself.
At age 29, maybe things are beginning to click for him. Don’t call it a full-fledged renaissance, but Monfils is building a steady 2016 season. With his surprising run to the Monte Carlo final, he’s up to No. 14 in the rankings and owns a 20-6 record. Of the six events Monfils has played, he’s reached at least the quarterfinals in five of them, including two finals.
Taking advantage of a generous draw, the Frenchman rolled through his first four matches in Monte Carlo without breaking much of a sweat. In the semifinals, he’d meet a higher-quality opponent in countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That showdown ended in a rout for Monfils.
Advancing to only his third Masters final (and first on clay), he ran into a hungry Rafael Nadal. For over two scintillating hours, they traded brilliance, putting together some of the best tennis witnessed in 2016. Nadal prevailed thanks to a dominant third set, but he was forced to work extremely hard for the win.
Was that run a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come from Monfils? Either way, he demonstrated why he’ll be a tough opponent for anyone to face in the coming weeks.