Gael Monfils: The Entertainer

Gael Monfils elicits mixed emotions from tennis fans.

Some find his flair and flashy play exciting. Others find it grating and unnecessary. And there are many who worry that his acrobatic style of play will result in serious injuries.

But regardless of what pundits and fans think of him, Monfils continues to do what he does best: to entertain.

Gael Monfils hits a forehand during practice at the 2011 Legg Mason Tennis Classic

In August, the Frenchman brought his high-flying act to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C., and he did not disappoint. With overhead smashes that would make Pete Sampras proud and diving shots few on the ATP Tour would dare attempt, Monfils rolled to the finals where he was stopped by tour veteran Radek Stepanek.

In the semifinals against John Isner, Monfils held a match point that was followed by an Isner service ace. Unsure of the call, Monfils challenged but the review system malfunctioned and the call stood. Monfils shrugged it off and the two exchanged a fist bump during the following changeover.

After losing his doubles match at the U.S. Open to end his Grand Slam season, Monfils did not respond by hanging his head and walking off the court, but by throwing anything he could find to the crowd, including his shirt, a box of tissues and an umbrella.

Also known for his dancing abilities, the 6’4’’ Monfils showed off some of his moves during offseason exhibitions, including shuffling to “Party Rock” in Argentina this past weekend.

The entertainer understands that in addition to winning matches, giving fans a good show is an essential part of the job.

While the 2011 season marked a career high ranking for Monfils – he reached world No. 7 in July – his Grand Slam struggles continued. He lost in the third round or earlier in all the majors except for the French Open, where he reached the quarterfinals.

Currently sitting at world No. 16, Monfils has some work ahead in 2012 to climb back into the top 10 and potentially further. But regardless of what lies ahead for Monfils, one can be sure that he will continue to entertain.

And in the chance Monfils wins at a Grand Slam, the court may turn into his own dance floor.