‘We want to see Gael Monfils back,’ says former world number one

Following the emotional press conference given by Gael Monfils after his early Australian Open exit, Mats Wilander believes that more should be done to help the players cope with the mental pressure of the sport. 

Monfils, a much-loved character within tennis, lost to Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round of the Australian Open and appeared desolate in his post-match interview.

The Frenchman admitted to having lost confidence in his ability, called the situation a ‘nightmare’ and said ‘I’m asking for mercy’ while clearly very upset and teary.

Former world number one Mats Wilander believes that the coronavirus pandemic has played a big part and said he’s certainly someone that tennis wants to see back on top.

“For Gael Monfils, this is a tough situation to be in, he’s a social human being and loves to play in front of a crowd” Wilander told Eurosport.

“2020 has been a horrible year for people like Gael Monfils who likes to socialise, and I think with his tennis as well and we talked about this last year, who was going to be handle this?

“The likes of Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios, Benoit Paire, Fabio Fognini – the players that really, really play up to the crowd – it’s tough for them. I feel for them.

“Gael had a good year in 2019 and hiring Gunter Bresnik that says it all, he’s one of the toughest coaches in the business. So I think Gael can stay positive, work hard and we want to see him back.

“We know that Gael was in quarantine, we know that his girlfriend Elina Svitolina was also in quarantine, but not together – so that’s hard already – I’ve never seen Gael react like that in a press conference after losing a tennis match.

“It’s more than tennis, it’s not easy for anyone – the players, for me, for you, for anyone. When you go out there on a tennis court, it’s easy to give your all physically, but mentally you feel that emotion.

“I think it’s time for a lot of players to start with a psychologist to work on the mental side of the game because we have lost a year of our lives, tennis players have lost a year of their professional lives.”

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