Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon wishes happy birthday to one of his favourite players on tour.

Good morning everyone, we hope you’ve had a wonderful first week to this year’s US Open.

Both main draws have seen their share of surprising results but nothing stands out as having been excessively unlikely to happen if you had asked us at the very beginning. Oh sure, Novak Djokovic pulled out but he was also 1) in New York and 2) facing Stanislas Wawrinka. That’s a hell of a double-whammy for him. But in the end, the favourites by and large have emerged unscathed, you know? And to top it off, we even got some Coco Magic! What more could we possibly ask for?

In light of this first week, we thought we would slow it down a bit in this space today and give one of our favourite players his roses while he can still smell them.

You see, Gaël Monfils turned 33 years old yesterday. By the time you read this, he might have already taken on, beaten or lost to Pablo Andujar—but as we’re writing this, the Flying Frenchman is slated to take on the Spaniard in the US Open fourth round.

Who is he?

Gaël Sébastien Monfils is a French professional tennis player. He reached a career-high ATP world No. 6 singles ranking on November 7, 2016.

That’s coming from the intro on the Gaël Monfils Wikipedia page.

What has he done for us lately?

Wow you’re a tough crowd to please -___-

Well lately, he’s made one final this year at Rotterdam, where he captured the eighth singles title of his career. Except for a few unfortunate injury struggles, Monfils has been a consistent force in the men’s game, ranking in or near the top 10, 15 or 20 in the world. He’s also apparently Elina Svitolina’s boyfriend, which awwww cute.

How will history remember him?

The tennis world will remember him as a perfectly fine, great and compelling competitor. We’ll remember him as someone who snagged at least one singles final berth and one win over a player in the Top 10 in every year of his career except his rookie season in 2004.

They can’t all be Roger Federers, you know? We also know how his fellow ATP pros describe him for now and will remember him for eternity.

Hmm sure but that’s not entirely inspiring.

Well gee, what do you want then?

What will be the first line of his biography?

Ah right, now we’re talking.

The first line of his biography will mention that the Flying Frenchman was among the most entertaining players of his time and that scarcely anyone ever managed to hit as many trick shots as he did.

Trick shots?

Yeah tricks shots just like the one he pulled off earlier this past week at the US Open.

Oh I see, those kind of shots. Right. Isn’t that what folks attack Nick Kyrgios on, a seemingly carelessness when he plays?

That might be how they rationalize it, but they mostly attack the Australian because they hate him and feel like he’s wasting his incredible talent.

By comparison, Monfils is as beloved as any other player on tour. He’s a wily veteran who’s been going in his bag of old tricks for like 15 years now. He is who he is and he’s enjoyed quite a nice career when you get down to it.

I hear ya. Does Monfils only specialize in the 360-spinning overhead smash? What else has he got?

Oh buddy, the Flying Frenchman has managed a WHOLE LOT else and you can watch it all on YouTube. There’s the time he pulled off a spinning passing shot in Madrid against the direction his body was running. Here’s a supercut of his greatest tricks. Here’s a review of his 2017 Roland Garros for some reason. You can see his best “Only Gaël” shots. And because the Internet is the best place in history, you have part 1 and part 2 of a Kyrgios versus Monfils trick shots compilation.

Amazing, thanks. I have a lot of videos to watch now.

You’re welcome.

What is his greatest trick shot?

Let’s point toward this ‘Top 5 Amazing Points” video. His running passing shot at No. 4 is hard to beat, but we’ll go with No. 3: Monfils is at the net and gets lobbed so he’s running back for the ball and in one sweep motion, he slides to a perfect split and hits the ball back between his legs for a perfect passing shot.

Okay this is all great, what else?

Monfils currently ranks 33rd all-time with something like $17 million USD won in prize money.

Paid in full, as they say.


Happy birthday, Gael Monfils.

You get the hang of it now, good.

Happy birthday, Gael. And watch his trick shots.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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