Monfils wilts, Djokovic perseveres into Australian Open third round

Gael Monfils was a hopeless 0-14 lifetime in his head-to-head series with Novak Djokovic heading into their second-round showdown at the Australian Open on Thursday. Even after taking the first set, it was like the Frenchman never had a chance.

Dealing–or failing to deal–with brutally hot conditions in Melbourne, Monfils wilted soon after winning the opener as Djokovic eventually pulled away for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory. In the latest installment of a matchup that never delivers what it is capable of delivering, the six-time Aussie Open champion survived after two hours and 45 minutes.

“The conditions were brutal,” Djokovic assured. “That’s for sure. I mean, we both struggled…. “It was just one of these days where you had to stay tough mentally. I think physically it was obvious that, you know, just have to try to hang in there. When you’re facing such conditions, obviously it affects you mentally, as well. It was a big challenge for both of us to be on the court, to be able to finish the match. I’m just glad that I managed to come out on top.”

The No. 14 seed certainly did not start on top. He lost each of his first two service games. falling into an early 3-0 hole. Djokovic got both of the breaks back immediately thereafter only to drop his serve again and fall behind 4-3. This time he as unable to recover. Monfils finally tightened things up on his own serve and held twice to wrap up first set.

But the underdog returned for the second as a completely different player, clearly affected by the soaring temperatures under the summer sun. In fact, throughout the second and third sets it looked like a retirement might be in the cards.

“It was obvious that he was not at his best,” Djokovic said of Monfils. “At times we were both just trying to get a little bit of extra breath–a few seconds more, so we can recover. We were also getting into some long exchanges and rallies. That’s what happens when we play each other.

“I was mentioning on the court that he truly is one of the best athletes we have in tennis. He hasn’t lost a match this year. He won a tournament. He was feeling confident. He started well. I didn’t start well at all. I was a set down. Obviously just try to hang in there and wait for opportunities, and when they’re presented, obviously try to use them.”

That’s exactly what Djokovic did.

2 Comments on Monfils wilts, Djokovic perseveres into Australian Open third round

  1. Thats bad luck for Monfils. The weather and not Djokovic beat him. Guess Monfils was never known as the fittest guy in the tour

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