MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Great entertainer Gael Monfils charged into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday before rounding on the media for a “made up” story about him injuring his hand while playing video games.
The 10th seed ousted Ernests Gulbis 7-6(2) 6-4 6-3 on Melbourne Arena showing no signs of a hand injury French media reports last weekend had said resulted from him hitting the bedboard in frustration while on his PlayStation.
“I say this in a funny way but it’s a disgrace to be honest with you because I’m fine,” the 33-year-old told reporters.
“I’m in second week, playing great tennis. I never said I was hurt. Playing PlayStation, this? Come on? And it’s easy, because I think I’m a good name to make up a good story like that. Now you know.”
The Frenchman will face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16 as he looks to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the second time after 2016.
Monfils has never beaten the twice Roland Garros finalist in five attempts.
“He’s always tricky and has improved a lot on hard court. I think he’s playing great at the moment,” said Monfils.
“So I just have to be myself, try to figure out with my coach a good way to beat him. I feel fine physically, so that will help.”
Thiem reached the fourth round on Saturday with a 6-2 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 win over American Taylor Fritz that was more difficult that the scoreline suggested, with the Austrian having to save six break points in the second set alone.
The 26-year-old’s name comes up frequently on lists of younger players who could make a Grand Slam breakthrough this year, but Monfils said winning one of the sport’s four major prizes was still a realistic goal for him too.
“I love the game. I love waking up every morning with the goal to win a slam for the first time,” he said.
“I love to play big matches. I think it’s that that keeps the fire in me, keeps me on alert. I still have a strong belief I can make it.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford