A Frenchman in Paris


Sights and Sounds from Gael Monfils' wild run to the French Open semifinals

The Chronology 

It all started with Marat

Marat Safin practices with Gael at Indian Wells a few months back and he goes crazy.

“I don’t understand!” Safin says. “You have all the available shots, but you are ranked  90 in the world! How?”

"I realized when Marat went crazy, maybe he is right.," says Gael. "I should play better."

Shut-up Thierry!

In the middle of practice before the French, Gael and his coach Thierry begin screaming at each other after Gael misses a shot.

"See what happens when I try to hit the ball hard every time?" Gael yells.

"And do you see what happens when you don't?" Thierry replies. "You are ranked 400 in the world!"

The silent treatment

 Gael and Thierry do not speak for days after their argument. 

"This is very common for us," Gael says. "When it happens we just hit and do not talk. It can be quite funny."

Towing the company line

Speaking to reporters at the French, Gael says:

"I want to play my game. I want to let my opponent think that he is leading in the point, but really I am still there. Yes, I know, sometimes I get screwed playing that game. I am trying to change a bit.”
 

Did they chant the same thing at his challenger in Morocco last month? 

“J’aime Gael! J’aime Gael!” 

A crowd of French girls chant I love Gael at his practice court before his quarterfinal with David Ferrer.

“Je t'aime aussi!”

Gael’s response: "I love you too!"

Not an American sports fan 

Gael wears a Miami Hurricanes football jersey to his press conference.

“You are a Hurricanes fan?” A reporter asks him.

“A Who fan?" Gael replies.

“Your jersey, it is the Miami Hurricanes.” The reporter says.

“Oh, Oui, oui. I like the colors.”

But at least he’s trying 

Reporter: “Your match with Federer in the semifinals. It will be like a France versus Brazil soccer game, yes?”

Gael (laughing): “I would rather say Lakers versus Boston. Yes, it is probably the most important match in my career. But it’s not the game 7 yet.”

And let me give you my World Cup picks for two years ago while I’m at it 

On the eve of Monfils' semifinal match, four French tennis blogs declare that they have picked Monfils to win from the start.

One blogger writes in French, “Somehow I knew back then while he was playing the Challengers that Gael was going to breakout and win in Paris this year.” 

 Monfils Mania

The front page of Thursday's L'Equipe newspaper, a sports daily, does not contain a single article. 

Instead, there is just a giant picture of Monfils and the words,  "La Gloire de Monfils" 

"The Glory of Monfils."

 

Just based on looks I would've guessed it was Gael who was from Mars

 Monfils' father says he has told his son to treat his semifinal match with Roger Federer just like any other.

"He's playing an extraterrestrial -- the man from Mars -- but he has to treat it the same way."

"And what planet is Gael from?" a reporter asks.

"Earth. Definitely earth," his father says.

Good luck against Roger, Gael!

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