Gael Monfils won a hard-fought match against Fabio Fognini and will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the fourth round. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS -- No. 23 Gael Monfils beat No. 14 Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 on Saturday to advance to the fourth round of the French Open and, oh, what a spectacle it was.
In their last meeting at Roland Garros, in 2010, Fognini won 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7 in a controversial match that was suspended for darkness at 5-5 in the fifth set amid jeers. This time, there was no threat of darkness, and the highly anticipated rematch sizzled when it came to drama, but fizzled when it came to high-quality tennis.
After a nervous start in which he dropped the first set, Monfils rolled through the next two in entertaining fashion. The Frenchman began to suffer from fatigue, however, and completely gave away the fourth set, winning only six points. But Monfils came out firing in the final set, inspired by the constant cheers of "GA-EL, GA-EL" from the crowd. Showing off his trademark athleticism and shot making, he opened a 3-0 lead and avoided a late collapse.
Highlights from the match:
A match of emotions:
Monfils speaks to the press:
What they said
Monfils on coming back in the fifth set after losing 6-0 in the fourth: "I was pretty tired after the third [set], and I took my time. I was suffering with the long rallies. When I arrive in the fourth, he break me like straight away. I tried to break back, but I couldn't. The first two points were too tough for me, and then it's easy. I wanted to serve first in the fifth, so the only option I had is to take six‑Love. Why should I make any effort [when trailing that much]?"
Fognini on his long chat with the supervisor in the fifth set: "I have nothing to explain. I just told him how I was thinking. Physio was there close to him, so I called the physio because I was feeling during the fourth set some pain on my left quad and nothing more."
Monfils on Fognini's 81 unforced errors: "I didn't have the impression that he made 81 unforced errors. Sometimes I wonder how they calculate the errors. I don't have the impression, 81? Eighty-one? No, he was always hitting back. Well, maybe one, but 81? Unforced errors? Not 81. I'm almost certain about this.Well, maybe, yes, some of them with his forehand, but not 81. Eighty-one? That means each time at each point? No, the score would be different today. Probably in this case I made 70 unforced errors. How many? Fifty [actually 56] for me? I didn't have the impression I had made that many unforced errors [laughter]."
Fognini on whether he thought Monfils was trying in the fourth set: "Ask him."
Fognini on his possible on-court interactions with Monfils' box: "You crazy? It was not for the box. It was one people talking every time to me after the second serve, after, during the play. So it was nothing on Gaël's box. If you say that, I mean, I think you didn't see the match. It's stupid question, sorry, but I have nothing to Gaël's box. I respect him. I respect his box. If you say that, it's a stupid question."
Monfils on whether he can win a Grand Slam amid the ups and downs of his career: For me, it's not about ups and downs. It's more about saving my ass every day [laughter]."
24: Break point chances Fognini saw over five sets, converting just nine.
1: Point penalty received by Fognini in the fifth set after throwing his racket and almost hitting a ball boy. He received a code violation just a few games into the match for an audible obscenity.
24: Minutes it took Fognini to win the fourth set 6-0.
6: Points won by Monfils in the fourth set.
2: Medical timeouts called, one for each player.
4: Forehand unforced errors hit by Fognini to get broken at love in the final game of the match.
137: Combined unforced errors.