HALLE, GERMANY–Displaying new dreadlocks and old shot-making, Gael Monfils beat fifth-seeded Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Gerry Weber Open on Tuesday to boost his comeback from injury.
Monfils broke serve for 2-1 and never looked back in the match. He also went up a break at the start of the second set. Raonic put some pressure on Monfils in the final game, but Monfils hit a drop shot followed with a lob, and served out the match with an ace. The two points at the end perfectly illustrated Monfils’ ability to produce a soft touch and a booming serve.
Once ranked as high as No. 7 in the world, Monfils missed several months in 2012 because of a right-knee injury that also cut his season short. The Frenchman was ranked No. 119 one month ago, but has jumped to No. 67 this week. Monfils wasted four match points in losing to Tommy Robredo in the third round of the French Open.
“I am just happy to be on court, enjoying every second,” said Monfils, who joked with line officials during the match and threw his racket while trying to reach a smash from Raonic, who was also bumped out of the French Open in the third round.
Monfils said adjusting to grass from clay in Paris was not easy.
“It’s very hard for my movement,” Monfils said, adding that he’d rather lose a point than risk re-injuring his knee. “I am more mature after what I went through last year. I’ve grown up. I try to do simple things.”
Raonic, a Canadian, has lost both of his career matches to Monfils.
“I got into his serve, I started returning very well from the start,” Monfils said. “But he was also missing shots and I was feeling well on court.”
In other first-round matches, Tobias Kamke of Germany beat Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-4, 6-0 and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany defeated qualifier Jimmy Wang of Taiwan 6-2, 6-4.