French ace Gael Monfils, who lost out in the semi-finals to top seed Novak Djokovic in four sets, is now mired in controversy after spectators – and some of tennis’ biggest names – have accused him of not being ‘in’ the pair’s semi-final match.
The first of these was Monfils’ friend Victoria Azarenka, who is currently on a break from the professional tennis circuit, pregnant with her first child. Former World No. 1 Azarenka tweeted about the issue, wondering ‘what is going on?’, prompting several users to enquire the exact same thing of the Belarusian ace.
Among those responding to Azarenka’s tweet was 18-time Grand Slam winner and tennis legend Chris Evert, who described Monfils as being “very unprofessional, whatever he was doing.”
And among those to address Monfils himself was men’s Grand Slam champion John McEnroe, who accused Monfils of phoning it in at the semi-final. McEnroe was among those to call the Frenchman ‘unprofessional’ during that game, and Monfils responded in typical fashion.
“I'm very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me (sic), because at the end what I can say to John is, you know, John, I want to be the best. It's tough, you know. And I try my best,” he told reporters.
McEnroe was not the only one to describe that match as ‘bizarre’. Known to be tennis’ showman, Monfils is fond of on-court antics – but this time around, it appeared to many that ‘Sliderman’, as he is popularly known by fans, threw the match.
Having not even dropped a single set going into that semi-final, it appeared Monfils was mentally absent from his face-off against Djokovic – which earned him the ire of the former American World No. 1.
He responded with “I want to say (to) John that I'm more than happy to talk with him,” he said. “You know, (he) is someone that I always care about what he is saying, but I'm just sad that he criticize me that easy.”
The French ace denied having put on a ‘show’ or thrown the match, saying he had put his best foot forward and was ‘all in’ that match. He had hit some strong winners in that match, at one point winning three games in a row and putting Djokovic quite firmly on the back foot.
Djokovic has not responded to speculation about the match.