PARIS (Reuters) - Although Gael Monfils would prefer to win his matches in routine fashion he cannot help but play thrilling five-setters at the French Open, advancing to the fourth round just before dusk on Friday.
The French showman, seeded 13th, featured in his sixth five-setter in 11 outings on the Roland Garros clay, beating Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 4-6 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-4 6-3.
It was also the 13th time Monfils had gone all the way at his home grand slam.
“I’d rather win in three sets,” he told a news conference.
Monfils trailed 4-1 in the fourth set and seemed to be heading for defeat when Cuevas’s arm suddenly tightened.
“At 4-1 I told myself ‘we’re going to take it point by point and if I can manage one break back he may start to overthink it,” said the Frenchman.
Sensing a turn of events, the Suzanne Lenglen Court crowd got louder as Monfils won 12 out of 14 points in the last three games to send the tie into a deciding set.
The local favorite then broke for a 3-1 lead when Cuevas sent an easy smash long, and from that point he never looked back.
Monfils ended the contest with a forehand winner before jumping around the court thumping his fist against his chest in celebration.
“Paris is magic. The guy who will beat me has to be very strong, it will be very, very tough for him. Anything can happen,” he said.
Next up for Monfils is Roger Federer, the 17-times grand slam champion.
Monfils, who has a 4-8 win-loss record against the Swiss, won their last two encounters, both played on clay, although one of them came at last year’s Davis Cup final when Federer was nursing a back injury.
Federer has beaten the Frenchman three times at Roland Garros, twice in the quarter-finals and once in the semis.
“I will try to put him out of his comfort zone,” said Monfils who will also rely heavily on his home support. “I know Roger is very unhappy when the crowd is not behind him.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez