Gael Monfils is one of the tour’s great showmen and shot makers, but it is the Frenchman’s intention not only to entertain this season, but also work his way back into the top 10.
The fun-loving all-courter played a very solid contest in dispatching young American Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday, serving effectively and not facing a single break point.
While the 27-year-old Monfils is conservative while striking his second serves, the world No. 32 will go all out cracking his first serve, and bombed nine aces against Harrison, winning 86 per cent of his first serve points.
The Frenchman nailed 43 winners in the match to just 19 from the big-serving Harrison, and was quite effective closing out points at the net, winning 18 of his 22 approaches.
The 22-year-old Harrison has been working on improving his return of serve over the past few years, but he couldn't get a read on where Monfils was going or get many solid hits on the ball.
Monfils has suffered numerous debilitating injuries over the years, especially to his knees, but the former Roland Garros semifinalist is not willing to give in and has enjoyed a fine start to the season, reaching the final of Doha before falling to Rafael Nadal.
He has never reached the quarters of the Australian Open, but did reach the fourth round in 2009 before he had to retire against his countryman Gilles Simon.
Last year, the athletic Monfils won a tough four-setter against Alex Dolgopolov, outlasted Yen-Hsun Lu 8-6 in the fifth set and then went toe to toe with Simon before going down 8-6 in the fifth set.
The Frenchman will get a chance to knock another American out of the draw when goes up against 21-year-old Jack Sock in the second round, Sock downing Germany’s Tobias Kamke in four sets, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-2 6-4.