What happens when you pit two defensive counterpunchers on court with the fourth round of a Slam on the line? Well if it's Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, two Frenchmen who have a history of forcing each other into metronomically long rallies, you get yourself a 71-shot rally that actually isn't as exciting as it sounds. The two traded rally balls for over a minute and a half before Simon finally pulled the trigger on a flat forehand cross court that eventually won him the point. The rally left both men exhausted but it was indicative of the match itself, which an injured Simon miraculously won 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6. The fact that Monfils lost this match against an injured opponent when he looked well on his way to victory is everything you need to know about the Exasperating Case of Gael Monfils. Unbelievable.
Two nights ago Petra Kvitova and Laura Robson played an error strewn match that was the epitome of pure offensive tennis gone wrong, a match that Robson won 11-9 in the third amidst high drama but wonting tennis. Saturday night saw the opposite, with Simon and Monfils content to rally for hours despite both suffering from injuries throughout the match (Simon had a knee and elbow injury that forced him to spin in 75mph serves) and playing some of the most frustrating tennis to watch of the tournament. Again, there was drama and intrigue in the same way that the worst reality television can be must-watch TV.
Both men are at their best when playing against more offensive minded players who give them something to react to. Take that away and you get neverending hitting sessions. In addition to the 71-shot rally there were two more of 47-shots and more than two dozen that exceeded 20 shots. By the end, both players were staggering between points and eating chocolate bars and drinking Coke on changeovers.
Amazing feat of modern tennis? Or ugly battle of attrition? Not even the tennis players watching the match from the comfortable confines of their hotel rooms could decide. While Caroline Wozniacki and Milos Raonic found the match "unbelievable" and riveting, retired pros Goran Ivanisevic and Ivan Ljubicic suggested the combatants should be arrested for their frustrating display of tennis. Consider me on team Ivanisevic.
Here are some of the best tweets from the night:
You can watch the last 20 minutes of the match in the clip below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1o_F5d0X6o