And here's the last part of the translation of his interview in the French Tennis Magazine, I know all MTF was waiting for it.
T.M. : You don't think that the crowd might be too inconstant sometimes?
G.M. : Yes, people sometimes are tough, boo the players… That’s the law of sports, it’s part of it. I have no hard feelings at all because of that. You don’t always show what you’re able of during a match, the crowd is right. Even when people booed me in Bercy without knowing I had only two days training, etc... That’s not important, I did my best. When things like that happen, I use to say: we’ll do it better next time!
T.M. : What's your image, the image you give to the people?
G.M. : I have no idea. A… natural image! 100% me!
T.M. : Is it important for you to be loved?
G.M. : Yes, it’s important. But I won’t change the way I am just to please somebody. The first quality is to remain true to your nature. You can’t please everybody.
T.M. : You’re the second French player in the rankings at the end of the year, your personal best. How do you feel as the 2nd French player, what do you think of your progression?
G.M. : Actually, I wasn’t expecting anything. I’m #2 now, at one time this year I was even #1. I couldn’t really defend my chances in the last part of the year because of my problems. Richard had a great finish, but number 2 is already incredible for me. That said, being the number 1 would be nice too, of course (he laughes
T.M. : How does it feel to be leading the French tennis with your friend Richard Gasquet?
G.M. : If somebody had told me that two years ago…! It’s funny.
T.M. : You seem to get along very well with Richard…
G.M. : Yes, we know each other since we’re very young. I’m a great fan of Richard, he’s a real buddy. We trust each other. Outside of the court, we get along perfectly well together. It’s a bit like Seb and La Clé (Clément). We’re enjoying being together when we are in the same team, in Davis Cup for example. This kind of relationship can be a plus for a team…
T.M. : And when you play against each other?
G.M. : We’ve played twice against each other. It’s never easy to play a friend. But I think we handle it pretty well.
T.M. : You were talking about your other buddies, “the Square”. What do you do when you’re together?
G.M. : Nothing special. What 20-year-old guys do: movies, video games, talk, poker, this kind of stuff! They really are my best buddies. One of them is studying in Jussieu (it’s an university in Paris), the other one is student at the ESG (a business school) and Ventu is in his 2nd year of… I don’t remember what! (he laughes
) We never speak about tennis together. But Ventu already came with me to tournaments, in Monte Carlo, Lyon, Metz. It’s great when he’s there.
T.M. : The French singer Pascal Obispo also is pretty close to you. What do you feel when you have contact with people from the show business? Do you belong to the same “league” of celebrities in your opinion?
G.M. : I don’t know. It’s different to be an artist and a sportsman. I admire these people a lot. But when a guy like him says he admires me, I’m a bit surprised. In a sense, there are similarities, that’s true. But those guys are much more exposed than I am.
T.M. : When something isn’t working, you never hesitate to criticize yourself. You seem to say: ‘OK, that’s how I am, take it or leave it’…
G.M. : I’m telling the truth, that’s all. Even when I’m doing bullshit. Maybe I need this bullshit, by the way. I stand to it. It’s not that bad. If I feel like eating a hamburger from McDo, I’ll do it. I don’t do that very often. But I won’t deprive myself of everything. I’m the first one to say it isn’t right. If people tell me it’s bad to play basket-ball and to make dunk shots, I will do it though. I’m taking my responsibilities, I want to remain open to everything.
T.M. : When you decided to enter the World Championship of paddle in Las Vegas (6), was that in the same frame of mind - being open, discovering something new, just having fun?
G.M. : Yes, I learned tons of things during this event. In real life, I’m not the guy you see on the tennis court. People describe me as a crazy guy who’s always partying and having fun. But that’s not me at all. I’m a simple person, I enjoy life. I’m much calmer than people think in real life. All my happiness and my emotions show off when I enter a tennis court.
T.M. : You’re close to other stars and admire them, like the basket-ball player Tony Parker or Thierry Henry. What do you think of their success?
G.M. : I admire them so much. They are models. They are successful, charismatic. Their message is great, honest. I take off my hat to them and I say: ’keep going !’
T.M. : Are they models for you, is that something you’d like to reach?
G.M. : I don’t want to reach anything. If my image goes that way, I’ll be very happy about it, but I have to remain true to my character.
T.M. : You come from a Parisian suburb, Bobigny. Do you consider yourself a kid of the suburbs?
G.M. : There's nothing special about it. I grew up in Bobigny and in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Because of the tennis, I spent a lot of time away from home. So I didn’t really grow up in the atmosphere of the suburbs. I left home very early. My parents were living there, but I wasn’t there a lot…
T.M. : Do you feel like you managed to “escape” from that world?
G.M. : No, you don’t escape anything. It’s just a matter of circumstances. But I’ve had tough times too. For example when my parents didn’t have enough money for me to enter a tournament. People are talking a lot now about the kids in some “hot” suburbs. But most of the time, they don’t do anything bad. They have their own approach of the problems. But when you live there, you realize these people are lovely. I never had any problem. I respect everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the suburbs or from the smartest part of Paris – it doesn’t matter for me.
T.M. : Do you think something must be done for the suburbs?
G.M. : I’m not going to criticize the journalists, but you often don’t see what is really happening. When there are problems, people never know exactly what happened. They tell stories without having seen what happened. As for me, as long as I couldn’t see something myself…
T.M. : And what do you think of Yannick Noah and what he does with his association Fête le Mur?
G.M. : I think it’s fabulous. But I’m so young to speak about all those things. I keep myself informed, of course, but you need to have a little bit more experience.
T.M. : Thierry Champion took you once to Yannick Noah’s home and apparently, you didn’t say much during this meeting, is that true?
G.M. : Yannick is Yannick. Somebody I totally admire. A model for all the things he represents, everything he does, everything he says. I really like him very much. But when we met, I was intimidated, even though he tried to make me feel at ease. It wasn’t easy for me. Of course, I still have the possibility to meet him again…
T.M. : There is also Noah the player, the former champion. You say you don’t pay much attention to the past, to the history of the game. Is that true?
G.M. : It’s true, I never look back. Same for me - in 20 years, the kids won’t remember Gaël Monfils. Or maybe, yes… But I’m not interested in historical details. I know the big facts, that’s it. Everything was so different in the past, the wooden rackets, everything… It isn’t going to change my life if I don’t know who won which tournament in 1949…
T.M. : So I won’t ask you how many times Rod Laver won in Wimbledon…
G.M. : That’s right, I don’t know the answer…
T.M. : What do the Guadeloupe and the Martinique represent for you (7)?
G.M. : My roots, the roots of my parents, of my family. It’s extremely important for me. And if I can be a role-model for the kids over there and help them to reach a high level, in the sports and why not? in tennis too, I will be very happy about it. I’d like to help them. At 200%.
T.M. : Are there big differences between the Guadeloupe and the Martinique?
G.M. : No, people give me a warm reception in both islands. And I feel very well there…
T.M. : Back to tennis: Roger Federer just achieved an incredible season one more time. So did Rafaël Nadal… Do you feel very far from them both?
G.M. : Not that much, no. Everything can happen in one match. It’s up to me to work well, to try to find the flaws. Against Roger in Doha, I didn’t feel ‘all at sea’. Against Rafaël on clay, it’s different, I really feel ‘dropped’. But it’s up to me to do what I have to do in order to change it. They have a great margin, but we can make it good.
T.M. : The first goals for the next season…
G.M. : After two weeks of vacation with my father at the Guadeloupe, I’m resuming with the training in the beginning of December. A good month of work and then I’ll launch upon the tour in Doha before the AO. I like this tournament. My goal is to be consistent again, to recover a steady level. And the confidence which gets along… ■
6. In March, Gaël had entered between the tournaments of Las Vegas and Indian Wells the World Paddle Championships (smaller tennis courts, smaller rackets, soft balls) and won the tournament, beating the “Federer of the paddle”, the American Scott Freedman, 19 times World Champion!
7. Gaël’s dad, Rufin, is from the Guadeloupe; Sylvette, his mother, is from the Martinique.