Madrid Open: Gael Monfils’ tricks and again as Frenchman squanders two match-points against Roger Federer

This year’s Madrid Open has been about many things. Clay court icon David Ferrer played the final match of his professional career only this week. Rafael Nadal is being watched ahead of the French Open to see how he performs. But perhaps the biggest story was Roger Federer taking his 1200th match win, in his ongoing return to clay after three years.

Federer completed a clinical dismantling of Richard Gasquet only three days ago. But on Thursday, he was to take on the mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils, who might as well have that phrase prefixed to his name. One of Clay’s biggest talents, Monfils, 15 years ago, was on the cusp of a Calendar Grand Slam in the boys’ singles, winning the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon on the trot.

Since his early success, however, something seems to have plagued Gael Monfils. It is not that he does not have powerful groundstrokes: he does. It is not that he cannot craft shots, either: Monfils is known for being able to construct points. His opponents scrambling across the court to return. We saw him do that to his Swiss rival last night.

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