Gael Monfils is a French professional tennis player who has won multiple ATP singles titles and is known for his charisma and acrobatic antics on the court.
Name: Gael Monfils
Born: September 1, 1986
Turned Pro: 2004
Gael Monfils was born in Paris, France to parents of French-Caribbean heritage. With his father being a former football player, Monfils inherited his athleticism and excelled at sports in his youth. He was considered an athletics prodigy at school and won the French under-13 and under-14 100m championships. In fact, it was only his love for tennis that stopped him from running track at a higher level. His youth coach stated that Monfils was so talented, he could have made the Olympic Games. However, his passion prevailed as he began to focus solely on tennis. He was ranked as the World No.1 junior in February 2004, and won the boys’ singles titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon that year.
Monfils made his ATP debut as a wildcard at the 2004 Moselle Open in Metz, winning his first match against Xavier Malisse. He advanced to the quarterfinals, before losing to compatriot Richard Gasquet. He also qualified for the 2004 Paris Masters, losing to World No.3 Lleyton Hewitt in the second round.
The Frenchman would win his first ATP title the following year, defeating Florian Mayer in the final of the Idea Prokom Open. He also reached two additional finals, at Metz (l. to Ljubicic) and Lyon (l. to Roddick). He would climb 200 spots in the ATP rankings to finish in the Top 50.
The 2006 season saw Monfils reach the finals in Doha, where he would lose to Roger Federer. He would also reach his first ATP Masters semifinal at the Rome Masters, losing to eventual Rafael Nadal. After a fourth round showing at the French Open (l. to Novak Djokovic), Monfils would reach a career high of World No.23.
Monfils made his first Grand Slam semifinal at the 2008 French Open, losing to Federer in four sets. He defeated Nadal for the first time at the 2009 Qatar Open, but lost to Andy Roddick in the semifinals. He would again face Federer at the 2009 French Open, this time losing in the quarterfinals. After an injury-plagued midseason, the Frenchman won his second ATP title at the Moselle Open, defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final. He would make his first ATP Masters at the 2009 Paris Masters, losing to Novak Djokovic.
After winning the 2010 Open Dud de France title, he again made the final of the Paris Masters. Although he defeated Roger Federer en route, he was unable to overcome Robin Soderling in the final. However, his 2011 season saw him reach a then career-high ranking of World No.7, along with him capturing his fourth career ATP title at the Stockholm Open. He would struggle with a right knee injury for most of the 2012 season, causing him to miss a number of months.
Monfils attempted a comeback in 2013, reaching the final in Nice but losing to Spaniard Albert Montanes. He also reached a second final at the Winston-Salem Open, but bowed out mid-match due to an unspecified injury. He would reach his third Doha final in 2014, losing to Rafael Nadal in three sets. However, he won the 2014 Montpellier Open, defeating compatriot Richard Gasquet in the final. After suffering from a wrist injury, Monfils reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 US Open. He led Roger Federer by two sets to love and held two match points, but was unable to defeat the Swiss legend.
Monfils would return to the Top 15 in 2015, reaching the Open 13 final but losing to countryman Gilles Simon. He would make the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters (l. to Berdych) but lose to Federer in the fourth round of the 2015 French Open. His North American hardcourt season was injury-riddled, which culminated with him retiring mid-match in the first round of the US Open.
After pairing with a new coach, Monfils reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time in 2016 (l. to Raonic). His good run continued as he reached the Rotterdam final (l. to Klizan) and made the quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Masters. He then reached his third career Masters final, losing to Nadal in Monte Carlo. He would claim his first ATP 500 title at the Citi Open, defeating Ivo Karlovic in the final. He followed this performance with a strong showing at the 2016 US Open, losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets. The Frenchman reached a career-high of World No.6 and qualified for the year-ending ATP Finals. He would lose his first two matches before withdrawing from the tournament due to injury.
Monfils struggled with fitness and injury for most of 2017, which saw his ranking drop to World No.46. He would mount an early comeback in 2018 however, winning the title in Doha as an unseeded wildcard. After making the semifinals of the Argentina Open, his form would drop significantly as he suffered numerous early round exits during the rest of the season.
The Frenchman would experience a resurgence in 2019, defeating Stan Wawrinka in the final of the Rotterdam Open. This was Monfils 8th ATP title, and he started the season 15-3 before losing to Dominic Thiem via walkover at Indian Wells. He reached the US Open quarterfinals, defeating Canadian Denis Shapovalov in a thrilling third round encounter along the way. He would eventually lose to the in-form Matteo Berrettini in a five-set marathon match.
Monfils began the 2020 season by winning two ATP titles, at Montpellier and Rotterdam. This marked the first time he had won multiple titles in the same season. With aspirations of winning a Grand Slam, the Frenchman racked up a career-best 12 match winning streak that was ended by Djokovic at the Dubai semifinals. With a 16-3 match record, he reached the No.9 position on the ATP rankings and was in great form till the season’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to being great at tennis, Monfils is also an exceptional breakdancer. He is currently in a relationship with WTA star Elina Svitolina, as the two made their relationship public in January 2019. He is a fan of the NBA team, Detroit Pistons and is pretty good at basketball. Nicknamed “LaMonf”, his favorite tennis player is three-time Grand Slam champion Arthur Ashe.