Pagliaro: Monfils Drops To The Heat of Djokovic and The Open
Sep 20 2016 by Marjorie Miles
Monfils forced a fourth set, and Djokovic ripped off his white shirt angrily a la "The Incredible Hulk".
Treatment for a second time in the match came at the change of ends as the trainer worked on Djokovic's shoulder and with the humid conditions taking their toll the match ticked into a third hour.
On the grass courts of Wimbledon, Angelique Kerber bounced back to reach her second Grand Slam final of the year. "But it happens. It was just very uncharacteristic, or unusual, basically at the beginning of the first set to move around like that, and play like that".
The history books will record that Djokovic cut the Frenchman down 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 but that is only the cover of the book. Monfils saved wipeout with three aces.
Monfils, ever a showman in tennis, at times sent lofted and off-pace balls back to Djokovic.
On a sweltering day, boos of reproach reigned down on Gael Monfils, who looked as lost as a tired traveler without a roadmap.
The top-seeded player has needed only two full matches to reach the semifinals - the first round and the fourth round. Monfils smiled as Djokovic double-faulted to hand him the break.
Djokovic's 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-2 victory on a sweltering, humid day in NY that left both players hunched over in the fourth set featured the world No. 1 playing a point with a ripped shirt and showman Monfils getting booed - perhaps a first in his career - for his antics.
After defeating Monfils, Djokovic has played only 13 sets and a total of 118 games.
McEnroe said: "Monfils is bordering on unprofessional".
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Djokovic, too, wasn't enamored with some of Monfils' actions.
No one was angered more than John McEnroe, who spent the vast majority of the match excoriating Monfils for the way he was playing on ESPN's broadcast of the match. So far it's very hard to remember a match where he wasn't hitting the ball clean, maybe one or two a year.
Still, after trailing 0-2 in the third, Monfils showed signs of life, partly by serving-and-volleying - which he hadn't done in his previous three matches - and broke Djokovic twice to go up 5-2.
"He starts to double fault a little bit".
What we've seen of Djokovic against Kyle Edmund was pretty good and against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga it was good in part, but Tsonga was awful and again we saw Djokovic shaking out his arm at times. I have nothing personal [with] him, so I'm very sad to learn that such a legend criticise me, because at the end what I can say to John is 'I want to be the best.
Applying it has been the problem, but that seems to be behind Monfils right now and at 30-years-old and Nishikori or Stan Wawrinka awaiting in the final this looks a superb opportunity against a potentially below par Djokovic.
By contrast, Le Monf had not dropped a set coming into the match, but ultimately played 19 sets and 178 games. Djokovic had his fair share of struggles with his service game and looked to be cramping up at times. And after frittering away her first four break points of the match, she converted her fifth with a lob-volley victor that curled over Kerber and alit right by the baseline.
The Frenchman took the opening game of the second set before Djokovic reeled off eight straight points to hold his own serve and break for a 3-1 lead that soon became 5-1. Like the first, he managed to battle through for another hold, with the help of a drop shot that only just rolled over the top of the net. I'm more than happy.
There were plenty of lengthy exchanges in that first set, and Kerber tended to get the better of them, winning 9 of 14 points that lasted at least 10 strokes. He had completely shredded it and taken it off by the time he got to the changeover chair.
And Murray's loss has brought all the prices in a touch on the outrights, with both Nishikori and Monfils making a nice profit and we had a victor with "no tie breaks" in the Murray v Nishikori match.