Gael Monfils defeated Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild 7-5, 6-4 in a hard-fought contest to win his first match in 15 months at the Lyon Open. Known to be one of the biggest entertainers of the sport, Monfils always enjoyed a good bond with the fans while playing. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been limited fans or no fans at all in the stadiums. “It was very tough for me. That’s why I think I haven’t played so much this year,” Monfils told ATPTour.com.
“This is not the sort of atmosphere I like to play in. I really like the communication with the fans, with the crowd, their energy. I’ve been struggling quite a lot. But I’ve been working as well quite a lot.” Monfils, who is playing in his fourth tournament of the season, is trying to make the most of the situation to motivate himself.
“I think it took me a long process for me personally to reset myself, to be motivated, try to enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “I love playing tennis. Tennis is part of my DNA, so it was a little bit longer than other players to settle down and admit to these conditions and try to be as happy as I can.”
“It’s a different adrenaline when it’s an empty stadium. It’s a different motivation. The fire is burning differently, and you have to definitely work more to build the fire.”
Pablo Andujar created the biggest upset on Tuesday after beating the Swiss maestro Roger Federer to reach the Gonet Geneva Open quarterfinals. ‘It’s amazing. I still cannot believe it because for me, I said yesterday playing him was a dream. But of course beating him is another level,” Andujar told ATPTour.com.
“It’s very emotional to play him and to beat him, given the conditions for him coming back and he’s not for sure playing his best tennis. But it really counts a lot to me and it’s very important for me and for the rest of my career.”
Andujar admitted to being nervous when he took on Federer, but he tried his best to not think about who he was playing against. “Of course I was nervous, but I tried to keep it as if it was another match. I have a lot of respect and I admire a lot Roger Federer,” he added.
“I really admire him, but I had to try not to think who I was playing against. I just tried to think about the game, about my game and tried to be 100 per cent focussed on that and I think I pretty much did it during the whole match.”