Gaël Monfils dismisses Christopher Eubanks in the first round of the Toronto Masters 1000

Gaël Monfils dismisses Christopher Eubanks in the first round of the Toronto Masters 1000

We don’t know if Gaël Monfils missed tennis (although we have a little idea on the matter), but Gaël Monfils clearly missed tennis during his absence. You just have to see the enthusiasm he creates around the courts he walks on to not doubt it for a second. In Washington, the fans cheered him on with all their might and stood up in concert with each of his winning points.

In Toronto, the slider went up another notch in the love that the public sent him. And Monfils returned the courtesy with a very big match against Christopher Eubanks (29th), recent sensation at Wimbledon.

The match got off to a flying start with exchanges reduced to their simplest expression. It must be said that the American is not renowned for flourishing in long rallies. The Eubanks sector is two knocks and that’s it. A risk-taking that can lead to a lot of waste (17 unforced errors, 4 double faults), but also pay off big (14 break points saved, and often in a very nice way, 42 winning points).

In the wake of the revival glimpsed in Washington last week, Monfils was not impressed by his opponent’s statistics. If he could not convert his only break point of the first set, he caught up in the tie-break. A decisive game where he regained his dimension of showman with a passing from elsewhere which offered him a set point. First moment of communion with an audience that was definitely leaning in his favor.

First set in hand, Monfils remained in the same register and headed for a solid victory by breaking away 5-3, service to follow. He was then guilty of a big loss of concentration and Eubanks broke in stride. Monfils was however going to get two match points, but Eubanks saved them with panache, while taking advantage of a Monfils who had become far too passive. If the French broke away 4-1 in the tie-break, Eubanks in turn lined up six points and equalized at one set everywhere.

But pushed by an audience joined in his cause, Monfils attacked the last set in the best possible way, with a break. If Monfils dominated the debates, Eubanks was incredible on the break points to defend. He was thus going to save 7 in two games before giving in on the eighth.

Double break in hand, Monfils could indulge in a few “show time” shots. Behind the point which allowed him to lead 4-1, he let go of his racquet and roared with joy, quickly followed by the public in a beautiful communion. Eubanks was not going to recover. He yielded his service for a third time and Monfils closed the match on his first match point. In the next round, he will have to be at least as effective because it is Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded n°4 who awaits him.


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