World No.12 & US Open 10th seed Gael Monfils has always been a colourful character. The Frenchman never disappoints his audience, attempting and pulling off audacious trick shots during his matches, thanks to his remarkable athletic ability.
That part of his game was once again on show on Court 17 at Flushing Meadows yesterday during his first-round match against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller. But this time, it nearly ended in disaster after he took down the match clock while attempting the spectacular.
During the game, Muller smashed a tame lob from Monfils into the court. Never one to give up, Monfils chased the overhead ball to the back of the court and leapt up and made contact with the ball.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he ran out of court and had to land on the match clock.
He did not get injured in the collision but the same could not be said for the clock which went crashing down and almost crushed Monfils’ leg. He just about managed to yank his leg out in time. Fair to say, the condition of Monfils was far better than that of the clock, which was utterly destroyed.
Though taken aback, Monfils went on to win the match 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 and progress to the next round. The poor clock though won’t be progressing anywhere just yet. Maybe Monfils just didn’t like it reminding how long he was taking to wrap up the match.
If that wasn’t enough, Monfils also did a barrel roll while retrieving a ball after the putting the clock through an ordeal.
After the match, Monfils remarked, “When you are in the moment, you don’t really feel anything. I just jumped.” But he did admit that the clock’s fall hurt him a little bit and elaborated, “To be honest, I always say that it is very natural. I am just an instinct player and I do what I feel to do at that time.”
Monfils also put his ability to hit incredible shots down to playing various sports during his youth. Though he’s highly talented, the 29-year-old’s best performance in a Grand Slam so far has been a semi-final finish at Roland Garros in 2008.
Monfils’ athleticism was famously captured on frame during the Australian Open when he dived full length, cricket style, to return a ball. But Monday’s moment would not be a frame he would cherish.