Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 3 of the 2021 Australian Open.
Poor, poor Gael Monfils.
The Frenchman was tearful after a first round exit against Emil Ruusuvuori by the final score of 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6 and 6-3. Just like that, the event’s 10th-seed is gone after a battle that lasted three hours and 46 minutes.
Kuddos, of course, to the 21-year-old Ruusuvuori, who didn’t make it easy for Monfils as he saved 17 break points in the match—but these days, seemingly any- and everything on a tennis court is an unsurmountable mountain for Monfils.
The 34-year-old was dismayed after the loss. “I play badly,” he said, via The Guardian. “I can’t make a forehand. I make mistakes. I am six metres behind [the baseline] … No confidence. I am honest in telling you that I have no confidence. I don’t feel good, it shows. I don’t need to say more. It shows, I think.”
You might think it’s an overreaction after a tough and unlucky match, but in his case this response was likely said about much more than this most recent loss. A year ago before the pandemic, Monfils had notched two tournament wins and was flying high after 15 tour wins in his previous 16 matches. He even held triple match point against Novak Djokovic in Dubai, threatening the latter’s unbeaten start to the 2020 season.
But then tennis stopped for many, many months and since the sport’s return, Monfils has yet to win a single match. Worse still, he hasn’t so much as generated another match point in any match.
It’s been rough to watch and, truly, it was rough to watch him answer questions after this latest exit. To his credit, Monfils has tried to be proactive about it all: he decided to forego the last part of last season, even skipping the Rolex Paris Masters, to start anew in 2021 and with a new coach in Günter Bresnik.
And yet, it hasn’t mattered thus far.
As they say, we’re all affected differently by this seemingly never-ending pandemic. In the case of the Flying Frenchman, it’s brought him crashing right back down to earth and he seems bewildered as to how to soar once again. We’re hoping he finds a way soon.
In the meantime, see below a few match highlights for day 3 of this year’s Australian Open. As always, you can see the full schedule right here.
Margaret Court Arena: Daria Kasatkina vs Aryna Sabalenka  (First match of the day)
At some point, we will stop overlooking what Aryna Sabalenka has managed to accomplish so far in her career, namely to become a top 10 mainstay in both singles and doubles in an era where the concept seems entirely foreign. And that point will likely come once she makes a deep run in a singles draw at a Grand Slam event. We’re not saying it absolutely must happen here in Melbourne, but, like, why not?
John Cain Arena: Sara Errani vs Venus Williams (Second match of the day)
Before we know it, Venus Williams will announce her retirement from women’s tennis for good and we’ll never get to watch her again pummel forehands and serves. Basically, what we’re saying is that any day is a good day to watch the older of the two Williams sisters play tennis.
Here’s to hoping she makes quick work of Sara Errani, who was last seen having an absolute meltdown on day 6 of the revamped 2020 French Open.
Court 3: Bernard Tomic vs Denis Shapovalov  (Not before 4pm AEDT)
Remember Bernard Tomic, this Australian wild boy who is now aged 28 and who’s somehow managed to both one day be ranked as high as No. 17 and to make the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals?
Yeah, this Bernard Tomic is now all the way down to No. 233 in the rankings and has seemingly no real desire to keep playing tennis. Until he stops, he’s stuck with Denis Shapovalov here in the second round.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG