I think I've begun several of my latest pieces with 'wow', so I'm deliberately refraining today, but the sentiment is still there. I so did not expect that performance from Gael Monfils.
More power to Djokovic for winning the match - kudos to Novak, who is definitely this season's Nalbandian - but it was Monfils that really caught me. I said yesterday that I totally would not be surprised if he retired injured a set or so into the match, given that the window of opportunity for him to be not injured is about the same size as John Howard's conscience. But no, he got that match all the way to a third set breaker. The Paris crowd got what they deserved - well, I'm sure that would have loved to see their homeboy La Monf win it, but they got good tennis anyway - and all is well that endeth well.
It's sad, really, that Monfils is so very rarely able to play at full capacity, because he really is completely incredible. I remember hearing once that the French sports institute (whatsoe'er they be called) runs all these tests on their players, testing them for all these different athlete things, like speed and agility and whatnot, and Monfils was so good at them he practically broke the scale. But unfortunately his aggressive, bendy style of tennis is not good friends with the body. I think he's probably doomed to be one of those people that never really quite reaches their potential - he has that semi final finish in Roland Garros from last year, but I don't think we'll ever see him get much further than that, unless he pulls a Marcos in Australia.
You know what I'd really like to see one day - speaking of Australia? A Tsonga fully fit and pressure free, like he was at the Aussie last year, taking on a fully fit and pressure free Monfils. That would be an athlete's delight, that match. I think the stadium would probably explode, ot being designed to contain that much French flair. That match would be fierce.
BNP Paribas Masters (Paris)
Novak Djokovic def. Gael Monfils, 6-2 5-7 7-6 (7-3)
3 weeks ago