Foot Fault!

Calling all the lines of professional tennis

Gael Monfils Shows A Bit O’ Toughness

Gael Monfils saved a match point to move into the Legg Mason ATP 500 final with a 6-4 3-6 7-6(6) victory over John Isner in a rain delayed match that finished in the early hours of Sunday morning.

After countless rain delays, numerous big serves from John Isner to fight back from perilous deficeits on his serve, Gael Monfils finally worked his way through an Isner service game to set up match point at 5-4* Ad-Monfils in the third set. On match point, Isner smashed down a 130+mph first serve out wide. Even though the ball was clearly out, the linesman, unsighted by Monfils’ position was unable to make the call. Naturally, Monfils attempted to challenge the call and was rebuffed by a malfunctioning hawk-eye, meaning the original call stood and the wide serve went down as an ace. Isner then smashed down two big serves to take the game and even the match at 5-5 - Monfils was robbed.

We all know Gael Monfils, and the expected reaction to that bit of injustice would be, well, a full-scale meltdown complete with maddening ‘tweeners’, unneccessary showboating and typical symptoms of a French headcase. Instead, he took a deep breath, put his head down and held to love with four huge serves. His discipline and calmness carried on into the third-set tiebreaker as the pair went eleven points in a row without a mini-break, bringing up Isner’s first match point. Monfils responded by smashing down an ace on the match point before coming up with a moment of pure unadulterated inspiration as he chipped a lob over the head of Isner and all 6ft9 of his frame to arrive at his third match point.

This type of mental toughness is so rarely seen from Monfils, but when it does use it, he really is a joy to watch. And considering how little time he has had to rest between the semifinal and final, he should be praying that it doesn’t desert him when he goes out to face Stepanek later on today.

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