French youngster driven by Gael force
By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
Published: March 06, 2008, 00:53
Dubai: After spending more than six months out in the wilderness, French youngster Gael Monfils has not waned in the pursuit of his dream of clinching the world No 1 spot.
"The goal is to be the No 1 player in the world. I have been out for some time, and now is the time to keep working hard and be patient for the results to fall in," Monfils said.
The 21-year-old was forced out of the US Open last year with a knee problem. Over the past six months he has patiently regained his health and kept faith with his dream of being the best player in the world one day.
Currently, Monfils is ranked at No 52 on the ATP Men's Tour, and his best-ever career ranking was in the middle of 2006 when he reached No 23.
The French youth is known for his versatility on different playing surfaces and against top stars.
To date, he has registered wins against some of the top ten players, including No 5 Nikolay Davydenko and No 7 Tommy Robredo.
But all this is of the past as he is keenly looking forward to what lies before him. "The fact is that I am here now, and I am here to be the best. The secret now lies in keeping the confidence and the hard work going," Monfils stated.
The French player, who has Caribbean roots, finished 2004 as the world's No 1 junior, having won three of the four Grand Slams [Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon].
But he failed to join Stefan Edberg as the only player to win the 'Junior Grand Slam' when he lost in the third round of the US Open to Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
Named ATP Newcomer of the Year, the tennis fraternity sees Monfils as one of the rising stars in the men's game.
However, on Tuesday, he went down in straight sets to eighth seed Tomas Berdych. "I do not have too many expectations from myself at this moment," Monfils said.
"The result was really not that important. The idea was to get out there on court and get a feel of a competition match. I am pleased with the way I have played my first match after such a long time."
He said that he is still continuing with rehabilitation work on his knee.
However, one week ago he started having a problem with his ankle. "I can now play almost my best game," Monfils said.
"The idea now is to keep on believing in myself and my ability to play at my best level in the near future."