PARIS (Reuters) - Roger Federer will need to snap a two-match losing streak against French showman Gael Monfils on Sunday if he wants to stay in the hunt for a second French Open title.
The elastic-limbed Monfils has caused Federer trouble throughout his career and will be full of confidence after beating the Swiss maestro in Monte Carlo and before that in the Davis Cup final last year.
World number two Federer is yet to drop a set in three rounds at Roland Garros this year, but knows he will have to be at his best to subdue Monfils in a standout last-16 clash, especially in front of a Parisian crowd.
“I’m always happy to play Gael,” Federer, who beat Monfils in the quarter-finals here the year he won the French Open for the only time in 2009, told reporters.
“He’s in Paris, he’s at home. He’s very strong. He loves these kind of matches. So I know the danger. I know his performance.”
Monfils, the 13th seed, will be hoping it is third time lucky on Sunday having twice lost to Federer at Roland Garros and believes the crowd could make a difference.
“Some matches Roger has killed me,” the 28-year-old Monfils, who was born in Paris, said.
“Roger always wants to dictate the match the way he wants, but I really try to change it and put Roger out of his comfort zone.
“I saw it the most in the U.S. Open, Roger was very unhappy when the crowd is not behind him. That will help me a lot, for sure.”
Federer, 33, said he expects a tricky match against a player who mixes up the his style to great effect, although with an 8-4 career record against Monfils he will start favorite.
“Monaco was so early in the clay court season it was always going to be tough, even though I wasn’t hitting ball so bad, but still not quite understanding how passive or aggressive I needed to play,” Federer said.
“He’s played me tough throughout my career, especially the last four, five years now.”
editing by Justin Palmer