UTS player Gael Monfils has delivered an absolute spectacle in round one of Roland-Garros, defeating Sebastian Baez in five-sets to the delight of his French fans.
Not only was Monfils’ win astounding—the Frenchman was returning from injury, and had no rights to be playing high-quality tennis for four hours against the No 42 player in the world—but the nature in which he did so was even more incredible.
The 36-year-old rallied from 0-4 30-40 down in the fifth set, tearing back into contention on the back of a raucous late night crowd on Philippe Chatrier.
“Because of you I won this match”: Monfils epitomises UTS in crowd engagement
One of the qualms of tennis critics looking at the sport is its lack of engagement with fans.
Even some players themselves have stated that they’d rather tennis was more interactive, with a greater degree of emotion, crowd interaction and passion. This is the heart of what UTS is attempting to shift with its new format that allows a looser code of conduct, and more touch points with a player.
Gael Monfils epitomised this in his five-set win over Sebastian Baez.
On multiple occasions throughout the match, and particularly as he was roaring back into contention then closing out the fifth set, Monfils was riding the energy of the French crowd. The veteran danced, hobbled, gestured, called out, laughed, made eye contact with the cameras and talked with fans.
“I was just pushed by the fans! I thought: Let’s keep going, let’s do it again. Let’s have some fun. I got a breath of fresh air.”
“I took energy from the fans”
Monfils was the first to admit that he wouldn’t have won this match if it wasn’t for the crowd’s support.
And support they did, cheering the Frenchman’s every shot, crying out, “Allez Monfils,” and performing multiple renditions of the national anthem.
“It is so late, you stayed. You helped me, it was so difficult, it was because of you I won this match,” Monfils said in his post-match interview.
Such an atmosphere will surely rival for the match of the tournament, despite the fact that this was only day three of Roland-Garros 2023.
La Monf looking to keep the party going in Los Angeles
Just before Monfils hobbled off the court at half past midnight in Paris, he had one thing to say to the fans who had stuck around and willed him through the match:
“We’re going to try to have the same party for the second round!”
With the US Open semi-finalist up against Holger Rune, fireworks and a party atmosphere are virtually guaranteed.
If Monfils’ antics at Roland-Garros are anything to go by, La Monf will bring this same energy to UTS5 in Los Angeles this July. The Frenchman encapsulates the UTS culture—fierce competition, breath-taking tense, and a lively, interactive, passion-filled environment.
Those who attend the Dignity Health Sports Park on 21-23 July will be sure to get their money’s worth in entertainment value from La Monf alone.