In the midst of an alarming slump which has seen him lose his last six ATP Tour matches, Gael Monfils was unequivocal that he was at a low point in his career.
“I don’t have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t,” he said.
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An emotional Monfil struggled to hold back tears at times in a press conference following his five-set loss to Finnish youngster Emil Ruusuvuori, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
Monfils has struggled desperately since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, having enjoyed a 16-3 start to last season before the pandemic hit.
His first round exit is a far cry from his run to the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open, with Monfils at a loss to explain why his struggles had continued for so long.
“I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I’ve lost again,” he said.
“I can’t serve, I’m playing badly. I’m being honest and it’s going to take time.”
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) February 8, 2021
Monfils hasn’t won a game since the ATP Tour resumed after going on hiatus during the pandemic, with his losing streak extending to seven straight games when counting the ATP Cup.
The loss to Ruusuvuori marked the first time he had lost in the first round at the Australian Open since 2006.
Tennis fans were heartbroken to witness the toll of Monfils’ struggles.
I don't think Monfils will be the last player we see more emotional than usual at #AusOpen after holing up for 14 days to play a tournament.
Everything would just feel magnified with that much time waiting, and half of them are going to be eliminated in these first 48 hours. https://t.co/opa6FIsux4
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 8, 2021
"I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can't"
Gaël Monfils, who has not won a singles match since the tour resumed play in 2020 https://t.co/FbQ8HN64mv
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 8, 2021
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 8, 2021
— Samantha Oldershaw (@samolders) February 8, 2021
Wawrinka, Raonic into Open second round
Former champion Stan Wawrinka and the power-serving Milos Raonic remain on track for an explosive early-round Australian Open showdown after impressive starts to their campaigns.
Wawrinka, the 2014 Open winner, underlined his title credentials with a comprehensive 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Portugal's Pedro Sousa.
Switzerland's three-time major champion fired down seven aces and did not face a single break point all match in storming into the second round in one hour and 36 minutes on Monday.
"I was feeling good. It was a great match for a first round," the 17th seed said.
"Playing well, playing some good balls. I was playing aggressive, feeling better than last week.
"So I'm improving and happy to get through to the second round."
Wawrinka will face either Australian wildcard Marc Polmans or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics next before potentially meeting 14th seed Raonic in round three.
Raonic was equally untroubled in his opener, crunching 17 aces in his 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over Argentine Federico Coria.
"It's good to be efficient early on. A lot goes on throughout two weeks. There can be really difficult moments. There's bound to be," the Canadian said.
"Especially after competing just last week, that kind of efficiency, hopefully it can pay off down the line."
The former Wimbledon runner-up will play Corentin Moutet on Wednesday for a place in the last 32 after the Frenchman wore down Australian John Millman in five sets, 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 6-2 6-3.
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