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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday June 1, 2021

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils expresses support for Naomi Osaka, and sadness about the situation that has unfolded in Paris.

Photo Source: Getty

After a joyous moment on court on Tuesday, and all the ecstasy that game with his 1-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Gael Monfils touched on a deeper subject: the difficult times of Naomi Osaka.

Tennis Express

“It's very tough situation for her,” Monfils told the press after his match. “I feel for her, because I have been struggling quite a lot as well.”

Monfils, who has struggled to cope during the coronavirus and even pulled the plug early on his 2020 season due to darkness of his own mental health, says he can relate to Osaka in a way.

“It's a big moment for everybody I think even outside of tennis, you know, what we experience now,” he said.

But Monfils added that what Osaka has been dealing with is tough to judge from the outside.

“I feel like, as I just say before the tournament, you know, she's a champion. You know, she's a real champion,” he said. “What she's dealing is even tough for me to even judge, because I think she have a massive pressure from many things. I think she's quite young. She's handling it quite well. Sometime we want maybe too much from her, and then how she say maybe she can't manage it that well, so sometime for sure she is going to do some mistakes.”

Monfils' advice? Give her some time.

“She's quite young, she has a huge influence on many [things],” he said. “So I think she needs, as she said, to take some time for her to—you know, I think work on herself, feel better.”

Monfils adds that it is difficult to know what is right or wrong, but easy to see that the sport suffered to tough blow when the events of the last few days played out as they did.

“Naomi, she's on top of the game and maybe manage it a bit different, but she's still a human being, as I say,” he said. “It's sad, you know, in a way for her, what's happening, it's very sad. As I say, it's tough to judge if it was right, if it was wrong. She made this decision. For sure it's not helping our sport, but for sure is not helping her as well.”

Finally, Monfils says that the sport needs Naomi, and he praised her for all she has done to elevate the reputation and popularity of tennis.

“First of all, you know, I really wish her a speedy recovery, mentally, to feel better,” he said. “You know, she's a young girl, first of all. You know, [she makes] our sport high, bright. So, you know, we need Naomi. We need her definitely to be 100 percent. We need her back on the court, back on the press conference, and back happy. You know, that's what we need.”

Monf Finds His Muse

On the flipside, it was an extremely joyous occasion for Monfils to return to the winner’s circle in Paris. The Frenchman has been one of the players hit most hard mentally by the pandemic. Last year at Paris he was in a dark mood as the event was played without fans and he could not find a way to spark his game.

He exited in the first round and soon thereafter called it a season.

He lost seven consecutive matches, and had not won a single match for well over a year until this May, when he scored a win at Lyon.

Today he played his best tennis of the season in defeating one of the toughest clay-courters on tour, Spain’s Ramos-Vinolas.

Monfils says having his family members in the crowd made all the difference for him.

“I was very happy,” he said. “You know, to be honest, the main thing make me happy it's been a long time I play in front of both of my parents. You know, was both of my parents there. My brother. So that was very big for me. Very, very big. Even my auntie was there, some cousins.

It was like very big, to be honest, for me, the crowd. I was missing that and the crowd.

Monfils said he find the right balance after a slow start to turn the match around. He was very pleased with his play.

“Slowly I get inside of the match, make it tough, make it work for Albert,” he said. “I'm trying to be more aggressive, so I need to accept but also I trust in the way that be aggressive, be defensive, be aggressive, find balance.”

Monfils admits that he could not have done it without the crowd today.

“I put that win, you know, on the crowd, my parents,” he said. “I put that help me quite a lot to achieve like a better match, better serve, I was more relaxed on some stage. As I say, I was more me, a bit more fun. It was a better Gael Monfils today.”


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