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Gael Monfils

 

If you've wondered what it feels like to never feel dry, just ask Jack Sock. For the entirety of his second round match against Gael Monfils on Thursday, under the roof of Hisense Arena, the American looked like he had drowned his clothes before even starting.

The pair had been due to play on Margaret Court Arena, but the heat delay and rapid progress of Roger Federer saw them moved to the humid surrounds of Hisense.

"I love the heat, so it was bit disappointing," Monfils said afterwards, somewhat mischievously. "I love the heat. But was good the roof was closed because it help my serve."

If Monfils had fans tearing their hair out at the way he and Gilles Simon played their slow-moving epic here last year, on Thursday evening he was on far snappier form, perhaps realising that he and Sock might lose their body weight in water if they went the distance, instead winning 7-6(2) 7-5 6-2 in two hours and three minutes.

Ranked 32 to Sock's 95, Monfils had never met the young American, a mixed doubles champion, before, which always leads to a period of adjustment in the match. Monfils likes to craft his way around a court, sliding and stretching for his shots and openings.

The Nebraska native, meanwhile, prefers the outside, the breeze, and hitting crunching winners from the baseline. Being run around hell for leather on an indoor court? Not so much.

That said, Sock held his own for the first set, staving off four break points in the sixth game, and battling into a tie-break. The score went 7-2 in Monfils' favour, but it was no sure thing, just a winner apiece and a smattering of forced and unforced errors in between.

Perhaps it was still with him, because he allowed Monfils the break in the very first game of the second, and, although he clawed it back as Monfils served for the set, Sock dropped his serve again straight after.

The shorts that had been drowned now looking completely submerged, Monfils increased to a gallop, breaking again in the opening game as Sock's forehand fell apart. The 32nd seed had two more break points at 4-2 in the third, before converting the third. A game later, game over.

"I feel good," Monfils said afterwards. "It was a bit easier because the roof was closed, and I think I played quite well. But I'm not so satisfied, there were a few mistakes, but it was not bad."

The Frenchman ended with 13 aces and 39 winners, practically perfect serving and volleying on the 12 occasions he went for it, and 76 per cent of returns in.

But he will have to do much more against his next opponent, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 9-2, the most recent win coming two weeks ago in the Doha final. Monfils came close in that one. In fact, his only two wins against Nadal have come in Doha - in 2012 and 2009.

"It's gonna be very nice, it's always nice to play against Rafa," Monfils said, commenting that the world No.1 just does "everything well."

It’ll be entertaining. Bring popcorn.

Hisense Arena - Men's Singles - Round 2
Pts
1
2
3
4
5
J.Sock USA 
 
62
5
2
 
G.Monfils FRA (25)
 
77
7
6

Post-Tournament
Monday, 22 September 2014
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