Australian Open: Gael Monfils breaks down after first-round exit

Gael Monfils broke down in tears after losing in the opening round of the Australian Open

Gael Monfils baseline dance won him fans but left his opponent and umpire bemused

French player Gael Monfils broke down in tears after he went out in the first round of the Australian Open and extended his losing streak to seven matches.

The tenth seed went down 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to 86th ranked Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in Melbourne on Monday. In the post-match press conference, the Frenchman said he was living a ‘nightmare’ and failed to understand the drop in form.

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“I would like to get out of this nightmare, but I can’t,” a teary-eyed Monfils told reporters.

It has been almost a year since the 34-year-old last won a match. He has failed to record a single victory since the Tour resumed in August after a six-month break because of the virus.

Monfils’ last win came at the Dubai Open in February 2020, when he defeated fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3.

“Don’t shoot me, I’m asking for mercy. I work like a butcher, but I have zero confidence. I do not feel well,” Monfils, known for his entertaining and acrobatic game, said.

Kerber ousted

Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was one of the biggest upsets on Day 1 at Melbourne Park.

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The German, who was one of the 72 players forced into hard quarantine in Australia, lost 0-6, 4-6 to unseeded American Bernarda Pera on Monday.

“If I knew the real situation before my trip, I would maybe think twice to come here,” Kerber said after her match. “I was not planning the two weeks’ hard quarantine.

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“I don’t know, maybe if I knew that before, to stay two weeks’ in the hard quarantine without hitting a ball, maybe I would think twice [about coming].

“I was not feeling the rhythm that I was before the two weeks, to be honest. I was really trying to stay positive, but you feel it, especially if you play the first match in a Grand Slam against an opponent who doesn’t stay in the hard lockdown.

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“But I was trying to take the motivation for this tournament because it’s one of my favorite tournaments. I knew that we play with a little bit of fans, which makes tennis playing much more fun. So that was my motivation.”