The match report from the tournament site:
Happy Birthday (Plus 1) for Gael Monfils
By Vince Pisano - Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Rising star Gael Monfils celebrated his September 1 birthday in great style Wednesday, dominating his countryman Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. Perhaps turning 23 was not the reason for his complete mastery of 22-year-old Chardy, but on a perfect day in the Grandstand, he could do nothing wrong while Chardy could hardly do anything right.
Prior to today’s match, Monfils’ fourth US Open, he was ranked 13th in the world and his career has been on a major upswing. In 2008, Gael advanced to the round of 16 at the US Open, where he lost to Mardy Fish, after having reached the semifinals at the French Open, losing to Roger Federer. This year he has continued to advance, reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Jeremy Chardy has not done poorly himself and was expected to give Monfils a tough match. Chandry’s big 2009 included reaching the last 16 in the French Open as a wild card and doing well in the US Open Series events, again reaching the round of 16 in Cincinnati. Chardy is now ranked 34th in the world, one spot from his first seeding in a major.
History aside, however, today belonged to Monfils. His court coverage was spectacular, sliding around for wide and short shots as if he were on clay. Sore knees or not, he vowed to continue his “sliderman” approach through the tournament. Monfils’ strong forehand and defensive backhand seemed to always find the court while Chardy struggled to get anything inside the lines. Unforced errors reflected the true nature of this match, with Chardy hitting 40 to Monfils’ 12.
One of Monfils’ few mistakes took place on the first point of the match. Chardy hit his first serve and watched the return without moving, thinking it was long. It was called good. He challenged. The shot turned out to be in by a millimeter and both he and the umpire burst out laughing at what may well have been the earliest use of a challenge since it was first instituted at the US Open. When Gael turned back to tennis, however, he turned it on. His first service break of the match, in only the second game, was greatly helped by two double faults by Chardy and a Chardy backhand into the net. The key to the set, and possibly the match, came in the fifth game, with Monfils serving and Chardy getting his first break point. There followed the longest rally of the match, with Monfils mixing looping forehands, defensive cross court backhands and laser-like forehands, with Chardy hitting his flat forehand with some accuracy. Finally looking for a way to end the point, Chardy hit a soft drop shot, bringing on Monfils’ first mad dash and slide, reaching the ball and hitting a cross court winner. He then served out the game and ultimately the set in a 25 minute highlight reel.
The second set looked like it could be a turning point for Chardy as he began to turn up the heat on his serve and sent Monfils tumbling for one of his sharply angled forehands. At 4-4, however, with Chardy serving, the wheels came off for good. A weak volley led to a Monfils’ passing shot, and two short service returns by Monfils were hit into the net, a pattern that continued to the end of the match. Monfils broke and served out the set.
By the third set, the only question mark was how many times Chardy’s flat forehand would hit the middle of the net, especially on short shots by Monfils. Game one of the third set, with Chardy serving, consisted of an ace, a mishit, an attempted drop shot that hit the net, another mishit and a forehand into the net - and a 1-0 lead for Monfils. Monfils did try to make it interesting by coming to the net, actually – halfway to the net – several times at 2-1 and gifting Chardy two break points, but an ace and an unforced error by Chardy took care of those and two aces closed out the game. Game 4 is one I’m sure Mr. Chardy will never watch on tape. With the score 3-1, he fought off a breakpoint, and had game point five times. With five chances to possibly get back into the match, he hit a short shot by Monfils into the net four times and double faulted once. Despite losing his serve in the next game, Monfils was clearly ready to finish the match and fittingly, with a triple break point at 5-3, slid into a drop volley by Chardy and hit a clean cross court passing shot winner. Nothing to do after that but a little shadow boxing dance and a big smile.
Gael Monfils is clearly on a roll and is a fan favorite. He said his parents brought him up to always be happy on the court and he showed it. It helps to have a straight set win. If he can use his backhand as a weapon a little more often, he may have a bright 2009 US Open.