Nov/12

8

Did Monfils Expose Gasquet’s Achilles Heel?


Two years ago at the U.S. Open Gael Monfils defeated Richard Gasquet and gave an unusually blunt critique of his countryman’s competitive shortcomings.

Question: Last time you spoke you said you felt Richard was a stronger player than you were and that you were most likely going to face difficulty today. What kind of mentality did you go into the match with?

Monfils, who defeated Gasquet 64 75 75, responded candidly with an admission that he played some mind games: “I tried to be very tough and very hard with him, showing him that I’m the man and I’m the leader. So I think I try also to get him in the head, to show him like I will be strong and he might hit a good shot but it’s okay. For me it’s like nothing.”

Moments later Monfils added, “And also, Richard, he doesn’t really like pressure. He love, like, good play, not play. He don’t like a lot of crowd around, the crowd involved. He don’t like (to) see the opponent like show emotions. Just play with that, play a bit with his mind, and that was it.”

Monfils, one of the most popular showmen on the ATP Tour, went on to say he loves interactions with audience and he uses that option to summon his finest play. “They helped me for sure in the second set. After I saved the set point I think I ask a bit the crowd to get involved and they did. Then it was great. That’s why, you know, I broke him straightaway because I had like positive energy. I love when it’s intense. I love it. It makes me feel like I’m stronger again. So for sure, when the crowd gets involved I play my best tennis.”

And for those fans and readers who think the crowd doesn’t make a difference at the highest level of pro tennis, put these comments in your pipe and light ‘em up.

6 comments

  • Steve · November 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I’ll take the bait. Of course, the crowd can have an impact. Depending on the player’s mind set it can back fire playing at home. Also you have people that enjoy being the villain or couldn’t care less. Lendl kicked ass at the US Open with little love from the crowd purposely hiding his silly, jokey humor from the tennis world. The player’s box??? Not so much.

    But geez…Gasquet has made some nice strides recently and hopefully his mental hiccups of 2 years ago are no longer an issue.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Steve, certain readers don’t believe the crowd matters and I think these quotes by La Monf illustrate quite clearly the support of the crowd is far more important than some realize.

  • Steve · November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Perhaps it’s the more extroverted players that enjoy the crowd.

  • mat4 · November 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    We could make a list about the players who enjoy crowd support and play better when the public roots for them: Djokovic, Del Potro, Monfils, Tsonga are certainly among them.

    Anyway, has anybody remarked that Rafa’s scheduled come back comes precisely 6 months after his last match? Since we know that at the slams, the pattern is that in early rounds only the losers are tested… what if… who could have thought he would lose against the 101th player in the world?

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Steve, Sampras was introverted on court and who could forget when even he would wave his arms to rouse up the crowds in his favor on occasion. I think every player wants the crowds to be behind them, or at least the smartest players understand the importance and know how to connect with the crowds and use them to their advantage. I think Djokovic is the smartest in this department, Federer is very good at it too in a subtle clever way. Nadal does not seem to care about it as much though I do remember him speaking about it and also praising the Miami crowds as one of his favorites to, IMO, back him even more. Murray uses crowds well and got a big boost from them at the Olympics this year. Monfils or course is a master at it while Gasquet never engages at all with any audience, it’s almost like he doesn’t know how to.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Mat4, gotta put Noah and Kuerten in there also. Todd Martin did it once at the US Open. Connors.

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