Gael Monfils suffered a traumatic first day at the 2021 Australian Open as he departed a press conference in floods of tears after losing in the first round.
The tenth seed was defeated 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 by Emil Ruusuvuori in a match which saw his opponent save 17 of 23 break points.
Monfils had not lost in the opening round in Melbourne for 15 years and has now lost his past seven tour-level matches in total.
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His desperate form has taken an emotional toll, with Monfils unable to hold back the tears in an emotional press conference.
Monfils breaks down in tears in post-match press conference
“I lost, I have no confidence,” Monfils said.
“I’m playing bad. I can’t serve, I’m making unforced errors, I’m six meters behind the baseline.
“I don’t feel well and you can see it. I know I’ve lost a lot and it hurts. The worst thing is that I’m working like a dog but it’s not working.
I’d like to stand up and tell myself that this nightmare is over but the truth is I don’t know when it will stop.
'I've never seen Gael react like that' - Wilander
Speaking in the Eurosport Cube on Monday morning, Mats Wilander said he had never seen such a reaction from Monfils, and explained that the pandemic was affecting some players more than others.
"For Gael Monfils, this is a tough situation to be in, he’s a social human being and loves to play in front of a crowd," Wilander said. "2020 has been a horrible year for people like Gael Monfils who likes to socialise, and I think with his tennis as well and we talked about this last year, who was going to handle this?
The likes of Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios, Benoit Paire, Fabio Fognini – the players that really, really play up to the crowd – it’s tough for them. I feel for them. Gael had a good year in 2019 and hiring Gunter Bresnik that says it all, he’s one of the toughest coaches in the business. So I think Gael can stay positive, work hard and we want to see him back.
"We know that Gael was in quarantine, we know that his girlfriend Elina Svitolina was also in quarantine, but not together – so that’s hard already. I’ve never seen Gael react like that in a press conference after losing a tennis match. It’s more than tennis, it’s not easy for anyone – the players, for me, for you, for anyone.
"When you go out there on a tennis court, it’s easy to give your all physically, but mentally you feel that emotion. I think it’s time for a lot of players to start with a psychologist to work on the mental side of the game because we have lost a year of our lives, tennis players have lost a year of their professional lives."
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