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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, March 11, 2024

Inspiration doesn't come in a bottle.

So when Gael Monfils found himself facing a one-set 1-3 deficit to Cameron Norrie today, he tapped into internal resolve resevoir.

More: Grigor Dimitrov on Pure Beauty

Self-belief—and some acrobatic shot-making—sparked Monfils to a 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 Indian Wells triumph over 2021 champion Norrie that spanned three hours, 12 minutes.

Asked the key to his comeback, Monfils summed it up with one word: Believe.

"I believe that I could be better," Monfils told the media in Indian Wells. "Cam was playing a little bit different. Different variety of his game, different trajectory than usual. Then I had to just to believe that me, too, I could change, I could do some different adjustment, maybe play some area that I don't like really and believe that I can do it. Be gutsy sometime, I guess, with the underarm serve, try to be creative, you know.

"Sometime for me it's important, because if I stay too much steady, let's say, like, for a lot of people, I think I hurt myself a little bit, because I will get really defensive, and with the creativity I can allow myself to try more stuff. Yeah, to believe I can still create. And then of course you need to be a bit lucky, and I guess everything works for me today."

It was Monfils' fourth win over Norrie in as many meetings.

The 37-year-old Frenchman's fierce resistance under break point-pressure, Monfils fought off 18 of 21 break points and offset 12 double faults with 12 aces, helped him prevail.

It's the second straight seeded scalp for Monfils, who toppled eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-2 in the previous round. Next up for Monfils is a round of 16 clash vs. Casper Ruud, a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Frenchman Arthur Fils today.

Prior to the series of injuries that derailed him, Monfils "felt almost I could be back in the Top 10."

Now, he says he's feeling healthier, hopes to make up for lost time and has a clear goal in mind: Represent France in this summer's Olympic Games at Roland Garros. 

"Of course I set goals, and the goal is of course the Olympics," Monfils said. "That's long-time goal. But short time is to play good, win matches, and try to get back in a good position. I made quarters in Toronto. Played a good three-setter with Jannik. You know, tried to play good in big tournaments. That's, you know, that's all the goals that I have.

"Then of course if I can make to the Olympics, it would be great, be great."

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty