Gael Monfils puts pressure on his quest for the Top 10

Gaël Monfils in Bercy, October 30, 2019. Christophe Archambault / AFP

Gael Monfils' press conferences are always worth seeing but since the beginning of the season, even more than usual. Each of them is like sitting on the couch. The Parisian is without filter, and pours out on his state of mind as he rarely did in his career, where he often played the Sibylline, invoking, in a formula passed to posterity, "Personal problems". Wednesday, October 30, his successful entry in the running at Bercy face his " mate " Benoît Paire (6-4, 7-6) was the occasion of one of his lunar performances and sentences debited under a deluge of antilogies.

Excerpts. "I'm going to be super honest, I'm pretty often. From Asia, I'm dead. I died physically and mentally. In fact, I feel that not too much, since I'm here, " he confessed in the preamble, referring to his Asian tour in September-October (two wins, three defeats against players ranked lower).

"I do not shave anymore! "

Then, on his management of the match, where he assured the essential, without sparks: "In a way, I managed the pressure well and in a way I think I do not handle it that well, because I do not play a good tennis I think. " Or : "When you're stressed, it's complicated, but it's simple. " Trying to decipher the Frenchman is risky, including for him obviously.

Monfils had not set foot in Bercy since four years, tournament that always managed him: two finals (in 2009 and 2010). With the last minute package of Roger Federer, he saw his quarter table clear: Thursday night at 21:30, he faces the Moldovan Radu Albot (50e) for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Last tournament of the season, the Paris Masters 1000 is also the last chance to win a ticket for the Masters of London (November 10-17), which brings together the eight best players of the season. Seven players (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Medvedev, Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev) have already secured their place. Rest the ultimate sesame. Roberto Bautista Agut (10e), Fabio Fognini (12e) and David Goffin (14e) are no longer in the running since their respective losses on Wednesday. Karen Khachanov (8e), beaten Tuesday, either. Kei Nishikori (11e), operated by one arm, still less. Monfils, who points to 13e world rank but at 10e in the "Race", the ranking over a calendar year, still has its destiny in hands.

"People get drunk with this Masters. The real pressure I have is that I want to finish Top 10. "Gaël Monfils

He can thank his fellow countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who cleared his horizon by dismissing Wednesday night one of its direct competitors, the Italian Matteo Berrettini (9e): A semifinal would automatically qualify for the London Mass … only if Stan Wawrinka does not raise the trophy Sunday. In his career, Monfils was invited once: in 2016, when he finished in place of number 6 worldwide. "People get drunk with this Masters, he annoyed Wednesday. I am told about it from Asia. The real pressure I have is that I want to finish Top 10. That's the pressure I'm taking. Because me, I think only one thing, it's Top 10. " A goal that turns to obsession, so. Including shaving in the morning? "He was asked. "I do not shave anymore! I do not even go home, I do not do anything! " he retorted.

With his victory against Paire and the defeat of his two greatest rivals Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, the mission is almost accomplished. It prevents. It's hard for him to think of anything else and is too wait-and-see to his racket taste. "I can not do it anymore, I'm tense. I arrive on the ground, I hope to have more inspiration on forehands, on setbacks. I try to serve well, but I hang on to simple things, I'm good. I am pretty good in my trip. That's what I hang on to. "

A dose of unprecedented seriousness

After a 2018 season crossed between injuries and doubts – we even saw him put a foot on the circuit Challenger (the second division) – he showed an unprecedented regularity early in the season: three semifinals in a row (Sofia, Rotterdam and Dubai) and the eighth title of his career in the Netherlands. Injuries to his ankle and Achilles' heel thwarted his spring, but he has an honorable record in Grand Slam (eighth at Roland, quarter at the US Open).

In Antwerp, in mid-October, he hit the bottom, beaten by Italy's Jannik Sinner, when he entered the race.e world. Before relaunching with a semifinal in Vienna last week.

"Quite often, I have always been criticized for giving me a little of everything. Far from it, I do not care about everything. Gael Monfils

"I find him very serious this season, he is involved in what he does, he really wants to do beautiful things. There have sometimes been declines because it is atypical like me, but when there are high, it's very high level, I really hope he will hang this Masters », wished him Pair yesterday.

Before the interested party also adds a layer on his new intentions: "Quite often, I have always been criticized for giving me a little of everything. Far from it, I do not care about everything, he said again Wednesday.

At 33, he is still the one who holds the blue-white-red booth. The French number one repeats since the beginning of the season his "Want to win a big tournament". He obviously thinks of a Grand Slam, but to impose for the first time of his career in Masters 1000, at home, in Paris, he also takes.

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