Tennis-Rejuvenated Monfils marches into Australian Open quarter-finals

  • Tennis
  • Sunday, 23 Jan 2022

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 23, 2022 France's Gael Monfils in action during his fourth round match against Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic REUTERS/Morgan Sette

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Gael Monfils's blistering start to the season continued on Sunday as he eased past Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5 7-6(4) 6-3 to reach his second Australian Open quarter-finals.

With wife and top women's player Elina Svitolina beaming in the crowd, the flamboyant Frenchman lit up the Margaret Court Arena with sparkling shot-making to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016.

"It was really tough, he played extremely fast on both sides," said 17th seed Monfils. "I tried to be very aggressive today ... It was just battling, battling, hanging in there."

Monfils wrapped up the match with trademark panache, leaping high to thump a backhand crosscourt winner and end Kecmanovic's dream run since the Serb avoided a first-round clash against the deported world number one Novak Djokovic.

At 35 and recently married, Monfils has a new lease on life, and wants to go even further in the tournament.

"I want to do better .... We are not quite finished yet," he said.

Monfils will take on world number seven Matteo Berrettini for a semi-final spot after the Italian defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets.

Monfils suffered a defeat in a five-set contest against Berrettini in their last Grand Slam meeting at the 2019 U.S. open quarter-finals.

"Matteo, a lot of confidence for last two years," Monfils said of Berrettini, who is nicknamed "The Hammer" on the tour for his thumping forehands.

"He played extremely aggressive, big serve, flashy tennis with the forehand.

"Last time I played him, I was a little bit, whatever you call it, unlucky or not. It was very tight, five-setter in quarters in a slam."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; additional reporting by Manasi Pathak, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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