Gael Monfils was forced to resort to an unconventional return stance as he faced John Isner in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Masters in Toronto.
The Frenchman did a ‘baseline dance’ to make sure that the 6’11 Isner had a moving target while unleashing one of his monster serves.
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Chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, while entertained by Monfils’ constant shuffling on the basline, but still warned the Frenchman.
“We have played 13 times, it’s not the first time he’s seen me doing that,” Monfils told the umpire.Isner refused to be part of the conversation but looked bemused by his rival’s returning antics.
When facing one of the best serves of all time, you gotta be prepared to try something different 🤷♂️@Gael_Monfils #NBO21 pic.twitter.com/XYeArHLXDU
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 14, 2021
Monfils’ ploy seemed to throw off John Isner a couple of times as he pulled out of his serve motion at the last second. In the second set, Monfils got a return back and Isner sent the resultant volley into the net.
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The Frenchman was later penalized for his actions, which didn’t go down too well. Monfils was taken aback by the harsh verdict and asked to see the tournament supervisor.
“I play for pleasure. I play for the fans. I was not disrespectful,” he was heard saying, while arguing his case.
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After the dust settled, somewhat, on the episode, Monfils took a medical time-out to treat his right Achilles.
Eventually, Isner extended his winning streak to nine matches as he defeated Monfils 7-6, 6-4 on Friday evening in an entertaining encounter.
Thank you for the support and the LOVE Toronto ❤️🙏🏾#differentisnotforbidden ☺️ pic.twitter.com/aaxRMraMFB
— Gael Monfils (@Gael_Monfils) August 14, 2021
Isner fired 13 aces and saved the only break point he faced to book a place into his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final since his run to the 2019 Miami Open.
He will face top seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the Toronto final.
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For Monfils, meanwhile, it was the best result of the season. The Frenchman has struggled to get going with a lack of crowds at most tournaments.
Having come into the Toronto event with a win-loss record of 3-10 this season, Monfils reached his first quarterfinal of the year.