Gael Monfils (born on September 1, 1986 in Bobigny (near Paris, France) is a professional male tennis player from France. In February 2007, he was ranked 51st in the world.
In his career, he has won one ATP singles final: 2005 Sopot (beat Florian Mayer of Germany). Two months later, he reached the final in Metz, but lost to Croat Ivan Ljubi?i?.
In 2004, he finished the year as the world's no.1 junior. He won three of the four junior Grand slam titles (Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon) but failed to join Stefan Edberg as the only player to win the "Junior Grand Slam" when he lost in the third round of the U. S. Open to Viktor Troicki of Serbia and Montenegro (4-6, 2-6).
In his first tournament of 2006, in Doha, he reached the final but lost 3-6, 6-7 to world number 1 Roger Federer.
In 2002 Monfils finished as runner-up at the Dutch Junior Open. In the same year he won the German Junior Open (d. Bayer). Monfils ended the year ranked the 44th junior in the world. He also represented France in the junior Davis Cup.
2003 got off to a positive start as Monfils earned his first career ATP point at the France Futures #13 by reaching the second round. He also reached the second round at France #14, Egypt #2 and Spain #28. In that year he played a total of nine Futures events. This included a showing in the doubles final at Spain #27. In junior events, he was the runner-up at Orange Bowl (l. to Baghdatis) and USTA International Winter Championships (l. to Rieschick).He reached the quarterfinal of the Australian Open juniors tournament (l. to Mergea) and won the doubles title at the Victorian Junior Championships (w/ Ouanna). He was ranked no. 21 in junior rankings at the end of the year.
In 2004 the French teenager finished as the world’s No. 1 junior, winning three of four junior Grand Slam events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon). He improved his INDESIT ATP Entry Ranking by over 700 positions. In October, he made his ATP debut as a wild card entrant in Metz and reached the quarterfinal, defeating Xavier Malisse and Olivier Patience losing to countryman Richard Gasquet. He qualified for the ATP Masters Series in Paris and reached the second round beating former Top 10 player Thomas Enqvist before falling to No. 3 Lleyton Hewitt. He won junior titles at the Australian Open (d. Ouanna), French Open (d. Kuznetsov) and Wimbledon (d. Kasiri). He did not drop a set down under and lost one set each at the French Open and Wimbledon. He reached the third at the U.S. Open (l. to Troicki). He also won the LTA International Junior Championship in Roehampton (d. Murray). He was the runner-up at the Australian Hardcourt Junior Championships (l. to Zverev) and was 31-2 in junior events. In April, he reached his first career Futures final at Italy #4 (l. to Dlouhy). A week later, he won his first Futures title at Great Britain #1 (d. Bogdanovic). He reached the quarterfinal of the Grenoble Challenger. He went 14-6 in Futures and 3-5 in Challengers in 2004.
In doubles, Monfils reached the final at France #7 (w/Ouanna). He reached the semifinal at the Australian Open and the quarterfinal at the French Open (w/Ouanna).
In 2005 the young Frenchman made one of the biggest moves in the Top 50 from the previous season, climbing 200 ranking spots. He finished the year as the No. 3 Frenchman (behind No. 16 Richard Gasquet, No. 26 Sébastien Grosjean) and captured his first ATP title while reaching two other finals.
In the first seven months, he won Challenger titles in Benancon (d. C. Rochus) and Tunis (d. Santoro), and also reached the fourth round at the ATP Masters Series Miami (l. to Hrbaty) and a Grand Slam best third round appearance at Wimbledon (l. to An?i?). He compiled a 10-14 record in ATP level play and 12-1 in Challengers through July. In the last three months, he went 15-8, highlighted by his first ATP clay title at the Idea Prokom Open in Sopot (d. Mayer). Then he struggled with a 2-5 mark before reaching the final in two of the last three indoor tournaments of the season, both in his native country in Metz (d. Gasquet, Hrbaty, l. to Ljubi?i?) and Lyon (d. Gaudio, Grosjean, l. to Roddick). He went 11-4 in tie-breaks and 1-2 vs. top 10 opponents, defeating No. 10 Gaston Gaudio in his first match of the season in Doha. He compiled records of 12-10 on hard, 6-7 on clay, 5-2 on carpet and 2-3 on grass. His earnings of the year was a career-high $473,892.
In his first tournament of 2006, in Doha, he reached the final but lost 3-6, 6-7 to world number 1 Roger Federer. In a surprising event in Las Vegas there was a Tennis paddle tournament held by the Tennis Channel, Monfils was given a wildcard into the doubles event but became interested in the sport that he inquired about getting a singles wildcard into the main draw and received an entry into the qualifying singles (which he won) on a count of it being unfair for the other players in the main draw. Monfils competed in the main draw of this Paddle tennis Tournament and surprised everyone when he outed world no.1 Paddle Tennis player Scott Freedman and eventually went on to win the whole tournament.
Later on in 2006 Monfils reached the semi-finals of the Rome Tennis Masters Series before losing to the eventual champion Rafael Nadal. En route to the semi-finals Monfils defeated former world number one Andy Roddick. He then entered the ATP Hamburg masters event where he lost in straight sets to fellow teenager Andy Murray in the first round. After that he faced Murray once more, this time in the first round of the French Open. After a gruelling five - set battle, Monfils emerged victorious. Monfils then proceeded to play the Belgian Dick Norman in the second round. Once again the match went to five sets and Monfils got the better of his formidable opponent. Monfils then faced his toughest opponent yet, the American James Blake. Blake was the favourite for the win, as he was 8th seed whilst Monfils was 25th seed. However, Monfils defeated Blake in another 5 set match. Monfils described this run as 'a marathon'. Blake said of Monfils that 'he was the fastest man on the tour'. The fourth round was Monfils' last, as he lost to Novak ?okovi? in straight sets. Monfils said after the match: 'I am disappointed that I didn't take the opportunity, but you can expect me to return next year'. Monfils then left the court to a standing ovation.
As a result of his progress at the French Open, Monfils moved up 5 positions to reach a career high of No.23. This also made him the number one player in France, two positions ahead of Sebastien Grosjean.
Monfils then entered the Stella Artois Championships, where he won his first round match against Jurgen Melzer. He then played the American Bobby Reynolds and won in straight sets. His third round encounter was the third time he would face the world no.4 Ivan Ljubicic. Though the odds were against his, Monfils triumphed in straight sets, 7-6, 7-5. His quarter - final draw was with James Blake, who he had met earlier at the French Open. This time Blake succeeded. After having lost a set, Monfils retired as a result of a back injury. This injury effectively ruled his out of the Nottingham championships due to take place the following week.
At the 2006 Wimbledon Championships, Monfils made a surprising first-round exit when defeated by Igor Kunitsyn. Monfils won the first set, but ended up losing the next three, 5-7 7-6 6-3 6-4.
At the 2007 Australian Open, Monfils won his first round match against Daniele Bracciali 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 7-6 (7-5), and caused an upset after beating 11th seed Marcos Baghdatis 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-0 in the second round. During this match Monfils won the crowd over from the favourite Baghdatis, putting on an unbelievable show of tennis. A memorable moment being a forehand winner that Monfils returned at above 190 km/h, with commentator Jim Courier saying it was the best and fastest he has ever seen. However, he failed to defeat his friend and compatriot Richard Gasquet in the 3rd round of the Australian Open, losing 0-6 6-4 5-7 3-6.
Monfils had a good run in Poertschach as a warm-up for the French Open. He won his first match against Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5. He defeated 7th seeded Hyung-Taik Lee by a score of 7-6(5), 6-4. In the third round, he triumphed over 2nd seeded Andy Roddick 7-5, 6-3 for one of the most impressive wins of the year for Monfils. He followed that win up in the semifinals with a win over 4th seed Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-5. The tournament ended with a loss against Juan Monaco of Argentina in the 4th final of his young career by a score of 6-7(3), 0-6.
He failed to repeat his fourth round run of 2006 at the French Open, losing in the third round to David Nalbandian in a closely-contested 4 set match. He had beaten Olivier Rochus in the first round and upset the number 18 seed Juan Ignacio Chela in round 2.
The 2007 Wimbledon Championships have brought Monfils further success, having reached the 3rd round without dropping a set. He lost to Nikolay Davydenko, the sixth seed, in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
Monfils cruised to the semifinals of the 2007 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, before losing to American John Isner in a thrilling 7-6, 6-7, 6-7 match. Monfils has dramatically improved since being labeled a clay court specialist with his continued success on grass and hard courts.
Monfils withdrew from the 2007 U.S. Open with a hamstring injury.
In the French Open Monfils reached a semi final berth for the first time in any Grand Slam. On his way he defeated fellow countryman Arnaud Clement and well as Luis Horna, Jürgen Melzer, Ivan Ljubicic, and 5th seed David Ferrer who he defeated 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 6–1 becoming the first Frenchman in the semi finals since 2001. Monfils was defeated in a very closely contested match by no. 1 seed Roger Federer 2-6,7-5,3-6,5-7.
A shoulder injury forced Monfils to withdraw from the 2008 Wimbledon Championships shortly before he was due to play his first round match.
Monfils was selected to play in the Olympics in Beijing by France and made a successful start for a medal by defeating the 14th seed Nicolas Almagro. He backed up this win by beating Victor Hanescu 6-4, 7-6. Monfils then set up a meeting with 3rd seed Novak Djokovic by downing Argentine David Nalbandian 6-4 6-4 to reach the Quarter Finals.
At the US Open Monfils lost in the fourth round to Mardy Fish on Monfils' birthday (September 1) in straight sets after having defeated World No. 7 David Nalbandian again, in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
In the Thailand Open Monfils reached the semi finals with a first round bye followed by straight sets victories over Robert Kendrick and Philipp Petzschner. However, there seemed to be little competition from him when he was defeated by his good friend Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 0-6, 3-6.
Monfils also looked convincing in the BA-CA Tennis Trophy played in Vienna, Austria with notable wins over Radek Št?pánek, Fernando González and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Unfortunately for Monfils he was not able to claim the title losing 4-6, 4-6 to Philipp Petzschner in the final.
Gaël is nicknamed "La Monf". He is of Caribbean heritage: his father, Rufin, a former soccer player, comes from the island of Guadeloupe, France. He is an agent for France Telecom. His mother, Sylvette, comes from the island of Martinique, France and is a nurse. He also has one younger brother, Daryl.
Monfils considers Arthur Ashe to be his favorite player. He is fond of listening to music, particularly R&B. If he did not play tennis, he would play basketball. He is a huge fan of NBA team Detroit Pistons and his favorite basketball player is Carmelo Anthony. His best friends are countrymen and former juniors Josselin Ouanna, Paterne Mamata and fellow pro Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
He was coached by countryman and former ATP pro Thierry Champion (since September 2004) but they parted company in September 2006. Nevertheless, Monfils' fitness trainer is still Rémi Barbarin. Monfils announced a partnership with a new coach, Tarik Benhabiles, in May 2007.
He is a former soccer player, but decided rather to pursue tennis.