'Tough to describe': Ukraine invasion hits home for tennis power couple

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Gael Monfils says it has been difficult to watch his wife, Elina Svitolina, and her Ukrainian family go through a range of emotions in the wake of Russia's invasion. Picture: Instagram
Gael Monfils says it has been difficult to watch his wife, Elina Svitolina, and her Ukrainian family go through a range of emotions in the wake of Russia's invasion. Picture: Instagram

World No.28 Gael Monfils has opened up about how the invasion of Ukraine has affected his wife, fellow tennis star Elina Svitolina.

Svitolina declared in the wake of the invasion of her home country by Russia that continuing to represent Ukraine on court was her 'mission for (her) country' amid the conflict.

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The women's world No.18 has remained on tour since the invasion, one of several Ukrainian players to receive the support of their colleague during such a time of upheaval back home.

She and Monfils were married last year, and fresh from defeating recently crowned world No.1 Daniil Medvedev, Monfils was asked about what the impact of the invasion had taken on the pair off the court.

The Frenchman said it had been difficult, adding that he was being as supportive as he could.

Having spent time with his in-laws in Ukraine in the past, Monfils said it was difficult to bear witness to the family's stress and pain.

"My second family, let's say, is battling," he said.

"It's not easy a couple of weeks ago to see my wife crying every night.

"Of course, I was, and I am, being there for her every day, for her, for her family. Quite a lot of family still there.

"It's tough to describe because I'm in it. I'm in it. And it's just kind of crazy you know, when you think about it."

Svitolina suffered a surprise first round loss to Britain's Harriet Dart at Indian Wells last week, with Monfils progressing well.

Monfils said he would do anything he could to help keep his extended family safe.

"We try to manage it the best we can," he said.

"Definitely for myself, I try to be the shoulder, to be everything she can lean on, and definitely to my second family I do anything for them to make them happy and safe."

Monfils outclasses Daniil Medvedev in impressive Indian Wells showing

Monfils clinched the win on the sixth match point in front of an adoring California crowd with a backhand winner, letting out a roar as he set up a meeting with teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.

"I'm quite happy right now, I'm in my zone," Monfils said.

"I moved quite good and then I changed the speed quite a lot."

Monfils handed Medvedev the break in the ninth game of the first set with a pair of double faults and two forehand errors, as the reigning US Open champion dropped just four points on his serve in the opener.

But Medvedev lost the momentum in the second set, unable to convert on five of six break point opportunities.

Frenchman Gael Monfils eased past world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in an impressive display at Indian Wells. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
Frenchman Gael Monfils eased past world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in an impressive display at Indian Wells. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Monfils broke him in the fourth game with a backhand winner and again in the eighth with a fiery forehand.

Overcoming obvious exhaustion, Monfils won the first four games of the final set as Medvedev was unable to set up a single break point opportunity.

It was the first time in 13 years that the 35-year-old Monfils beat the top- ranked player in the world.

Alcaraz crushed fellow seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-0 in about an hour to become the first player through to the round of 16.

With AAP

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