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Magical Monfils: The French Magician Believes And Proves He Still Belongs
3 Min Read · March 12, 2024

The French wizard is a thrill a minute on a tennis court, and he’s still thriving 20 years into his career. 

At 37, Gael Monfils may be close to the finish line of his wildly entertaining tennis career, but that doesn’t stop the flamboyant Frenchman from being the eighth wonder of tennis – an ageless showman whose creativity on a tennis court drops jaws with alarming regularity. 


Case in point: on Monday, during his third-round match with 2021 BNP Paribas Open champion Cameron Norrie, Monfils pulled out an underarm serve, and when the befuddled Brit chased it down at the net, Monfils slammed a forehand winner into the open court as the crowd erupted. 

The Frenchman is pure box office, and the tennis joie de vivre oozes out of his pores. 

After the 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 victory Monfils summed up his philosophy of tennis, expressing his need to sprinkle random acts of creativity into his game. 

“Sometimes for me it's important, because if I stay too steady too much [like a lot of other players do], I think I hurt myself a little bit, because I will get really defensive. With the creativity, I can allow myself to try more stuff.” 

Over the course of his 20-year pro career, Monfils has tried pretty much every shot in the book – from daring tweeners to behind-the-back volleys to 360-degree smashes – in every moment of a match. Unlike the Hollywood stars that often visit the BNP Paribas Open, Monfils needs no stuntman – he’s happy to risk life and limb on a hard court like he did in Melbourne in 2016 – OUCH! 

Monfils’ career has been maddening to some and mysterious to others, but when you boil down his body of work there aren’t many who would disagree with this statement: he has been one of the best showmen of his generation, and maybe all-time. 

Enjoy him while you can. 

On Wednesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Monfils will face No. 9-seeded Casper Ruud for a spot in the quarterfinals. 

After winning back-to-back three-setters for the first time since 2021, Monfils told reporters that he is feeling great after having a difficult time with various injuries over the last two seasons. 

Rather than thinking about retirement, No. 54-ranked Monfils is thinking about getting back to the top of the sport, where he believes he still belongs. 

Monfils referred to 2022, a year that saw him reach the Australian Open quarterfinal before coming to Indian Wells and taking out then World No.1 Daniil Medvedev. 

“I always say it's tough, but before I hurt myself, I was No. 15 in the world,” he told the press on Monday. “I was actually playing great here [in 2022], and beat the World No. 1. It was a good year. I felt, almost, that I could be back in the top 10.”

Ruud, a two-time Grand Slam finalist, will prove a difficult test. The Norwegian is already in the Top 10 and he’s shown menacing form thus far in 2024 after shedding about eight pounds in order to quicken up his footwork. 

Ruud notched a 6-2, 6-4 win over another Frenchman, 19-year-old Arthur Fils, on Monday, to improve to 15-3 on the season. 

Next, he’ll try to tackle the man that Fils and so many others take inspiration from. Ruud and Monfils have not met since 2018 on the clay in Ecuador, with Monfils winning that match in three tight sets. 

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