After fifteen months without winning a single match, Gaël Monfils beat the Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild in the first round of the ATP tournament in Lyon (7-5, 6-4) and confided in “his pleasure in returning to competition”.
The long tunnel crossing has finally come to an end for Gaël Monfils. After a black series of 446 days without winning any tennis match, the Frenchman returned to victory on Tuesday in the first round of the ATP tournament in Lyon. He defeated the young Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, 122nd in the world, in straight sets (7-5, 6-4).
He had been waiting since February 2020
After the match point, converted by an ace, Monfils sent a ball flying in the stands, as if an audience were there to receive it, despite the camera. “It’s the same ball that I will swing, I hope, by qualifying for the quarterfinals of Roland-Garros, he rejoiced at a press conference. And I hope that someone will be there for the take in the audience. This gesture is a mixture of emotions. I was a little pissed off because the last game I mismanaged. […] But it’s still satisfaction, fun and even if there is no one in the stands, I saw myself in a stadium. “
To find traces of the last match won by Monfils, we had to go back to a quarter-final in Dubai in February 2020, against Richard Gasquet. Since then, he had chained eight defeats and had not hidden his discomfort in the face of the new face of the circuit, between closed doors and confinement. “It was a long process to find the motivation, the pleasure, he explained. I love to play tennis, it’s part of my DNA. I had to ask myself to find it all.”
While waiting for the public …
This psychological barrier crossed, the Ile-de-France approach the rest of the season with appetite and saliva at the idea of finding the public. “Taking happiness in sport, of course, goes through your own pleasure, but also sharing with an audience, whether against or with yourself. It is priceless. To be able to modify that a little and that it returns to normal, it’s magic, “he enthusiastically.
In the next round, Monfils will meet the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, 60th player in the world. Among the main beneficiaries of the protection of the ATP ranking put in place since the start of the coronavirus, Monfils is still 14th in the ATP, which allows him to be seeded in Lyon.