"Rafael Nadal is everybody's legend... I love him whatever happens" - Gael Monfils on making time for Spaniard's 'impossible' to miss French Open exit

Rafael Nadal (L) and Gael Monfils (R)
Rafael Nadal (left) and Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils has opened up about his profound admiration for Rafael Nadal following the Spaniard's potential final match at the French Open. Nadal's Roland Garros campaign ended in disappointment, as fourth seed Alexander Zverev claimed a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory in their highly anticipated first-round clash.

Despite commencing his own French Open campaign soon after Nadal's match got underway, Monfils made sure to catch the 22-time Grand Slam champion in action. Although the Spaniard's match ended in a loss, Monfils beat Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the second round.

In his post-match press conference, Monfils emphasized the importance of witnessing Rafael Nadal play, hailing the Spaniard as a true legend of the sport and expressing his deep and abiding love for the former World No. 1.

"Yes, it's important, because he's our legend. He's everybody's legend. He's back. It's impossible not to watch him, impossible. When I say it's important, it's more than that. I know that I love him whatever happens," he said.

Gael Monfils also asserted that it's "impossible" for any player to refrain from watching the 22-time Grand Slam champion compete, given the immense respect he commands.

"I don't think there is a single tennis player who hasn’t watched Rafa. It's impossible. When I say it's important, it’s because we all respect him so much, even though we are friends with him," he added.

Monfils' assessment proved correct, as the likes of Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Iga Swiatek, Stan Wawrinka, Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet flocked to witness the intense battle between Nadal and Zverev.

"Rafael Nadal is the 'King of Clay,' he's back... It was fantastic to watch" - Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils (left) and the Spaniard
Gael Monfils (left) and the Spaniard

Gael Monfils further emphasized the significance of the 'King of Clay's' return to the French Open, questioning how many more opportunities there would be to watch Rafael Nadal on his preferred surface.

"He is the 'King of Clay'. He's back, he’s playing. It's really important to watch. Times like that, will there be more of them?" he questioned.

Monfils also commended the Spaniard's enduring skills, praising the 22-time Grand Slam champion for putting up a tough fight in the face of the formidable challenge posed by Alexander Zverev.

"I was happy because he was hitting a good forehand. He's not over. He was being pushed, but he put a good forehand in. He said but maybe in two months and all. Well, I thought it was fantastic to watch. I was happy to watch him," he said.

Monfils will continue his French Open campaign against 30th seed Lorenzo Musetti in the second round, following the Italian's 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Daniel Elahi Galan.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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