'I'm here': How Gael Monfils overcame his tennis 'nightmare'

Gael Monfils has been a far cry from the player trapped in a tennis 'nightmare' this time last year. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Gael Monfils has been a far cry from the player trapped in a tennis 'nightmare' this time last year. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

This time last year, Gael Monfils was in the midst of a tennis 'nightmare' he couldn't seem to break out of.

Knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round for the first time in 2006, Monfils was clearly at a loss after losing his sixth-straight match on tour.

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That losing streak would eventually extend to 15 months, when Monfils finally got the monkey off his back with a win over Brazilain challenger Thiago Seyboth Wild at the Lyon Open in May.

That losing streak stretched back to the 2020 Dubai Open, where Monfils went down to Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.

Monfils had a memorably frank press conference after his 2021 loss, in which he revealed just how much of a loss he was at as far as recapturing his form.

“I don’t have any confidence,” he said.

“I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t. 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. I can’t serve, I’m playing badly. I’m being honest and it’s going to take time.”

He was right about needing time to rediscover his best tennis.

Monfils has been on a tear since arriving in Australia, winning seven consecutive straight-sets matches to put himself into the fourth round of the grand slam.

Preparing to face Serbian qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic on Sunday night, Monfils said his head was a long way from the depths of early 2021.

“To be honest I tried to not even remember last year,” he said.

“I just can say that I’m here, I’m good. I feel good. I worked a lot and [have] just been playing great tennis for many months now since America last year.”

Taylor Fritz finally lands fourth round Open spot

American Taylor Fritz has come out on top in a rollercoaster Australian Open clash with Spanish veteran Roberto Bautista Agut to smash his grand slam third-round hoodoo.

The 24-year-old had reached the third round seven times at a major but never gone beyond, bowing out at that stage in his last three appearances at Melbourne Park.

But Fritz outlasted Bautista Agut 6-0 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to book a fourth round meeting with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Greek eliminated Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 in their Rod Laver Arena clash.

American Taylor Fritz has landed his first fourth round berth at the Australian Open after overcoming Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets. (Photo by Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images)
American Taylor Fritz has landed his first fourth round berth at the Australian Open after overcoming Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets. (Photo by Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images)

Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur will also make his first appearance in the fourth round with the 32nd seed easing past Spain's Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4 6-2.

De Minaur faces world No.10 Jannik Sinner after the Italian trumped Japan's Taro Daniel 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-1.

American Maxime Cressy ended the hopes of unheralded Aussie Chris O'Connell 6-2 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 6-2.

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev made short work of Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp, winning 6-4 6-4 6-2 while Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime cruised past Brit Dan Evans 6-4 6-1 6-1.

Auger-Aliassime will next meet the rejuvenated 2018 finalist Marin Cilic, who caused the shock of the day by ousting fifth seed Andrey Rublev 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3 in a compelling night match.

Fritz got off to a flyer with his booming forehand and big first serve doing plenty of damage before the momentum went Bautista Agut's way for the next two sets.

But after levelling at two sets apiece, Fritz got an early break in the fifth and was never headed from there in a career-best showing which included 73 winners.

With AAP

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