“I Can’t Beat You My Friend” – Gael Monfils Lauds Novak Djokovic

Published 02/29/2020, 5:59 AM EST


The Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships semi-final clash between Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils gave us one of the most thrilling matches of the year. It was the Serb who triumphed 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-1 in the end.

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Even before this match, the head-to-head between Monfils and Djokovic was lopsided as it can ever be. Before meeting at the Dubai Open, the pair had played each other 16 times. Djokovic had won all 16 meetings.

Novak Djokovic extends his record against Monfils

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A clash between the Serb and the Frenchman is always enticing, and it did not disappoint this time either. Both players started off well, playing some absorbing rallies and holding their opening service games.

It was Gael who drew first blood, breaking Novak on his second service game. Once he had the break of serve, Monfils just trampled all over Novak as he raced to win the first set. The Frenchman was playing some flawless tennis to keep Novak at bay.

Very few times has Djokovic been so helpless because of his opponent’s display, but the first set was a prime example of it. It wasn’t a case of him playing bad tennis, rather, Gael playing some exquisite tennis.

The Frenchman was hitting the ball purely, at times not even giving Novak a chance. On top of that, Novak’s forehand down the line had simply abandoned him, at least in the first set and a half.

The second set started off the same way too. Monfils broke Djokovic on his second service game once again. However, this time around Novak fought back to force a tie-break. He then went on to save three match points in the tie-break and win the match in three sets.

“I can’t beat you” – Gael Monfils

Djokovic now has a 17-0 record against Monfils, the most one-sided ATP rivalry ever. He took the defeat on his chin and took to social media to praise his opponent and friend after the match.

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“I can’t beat you my friend, but always a big pleasure to play against you. You are a big champion in many ways and you showed it again tonight.”

Gallant as always, in defeat, Monfils should take a lot of confidence from the match. He may have lost after holding match points, but he was playing someone who is well-versed in the art of coming back from a match point down.

Djokovic knew how close he came to losing too.

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“He was getting everything back in court. I made a lot of unforced errors in the first set and the beginning of the second, wasted a lot of mid-court short-balls. When I was coming in, he was easily finding a way to make a passing shot. It was tough, it was one of the matches where you have to hang in.”

This is the closest Gael has ever come to beating Novak. Perhaps next time, he can take the final step too.

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Samir Satam

509 articles

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