Gaël Monfils will be one of the most exciting players at the European Open. For ten years the Frenchman has been a regular at the top of world tennis. Thanks to his attractive playing style he’s one of the fan favourites on the tour. Did you know Monfils is also a world champion in another sport and made a cameo in the video clip of a worldwide hit song?
Monfils always entertains on the court. Six times that lead to an ATP tournament win: in Sopot, Metz, Montpellier (2x), Stockholm and Washington the right-handed Frenchman took home the trophy. Interestingly 30-year-old Monfils needed 25 finals to get those six tournament victories.
Monfils also shows his skills at the Grand Slams. In 2008 he made it into the semifinals of Roland Garros. In 2016 he repeated that feat at the US Open, again ending up one win away from a spot in the finals. That year he reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time. No less than five times, he went out of the Wimbledon third round.
Playing sports is in his blood. Father Rufin was a professional football player at Girondins de Bordeaux, although his son prefers watching the American NBA basketball.
GUADELOUPE & MARTINIQUE
The roots of Gaël Monfils are found on Guadeloupe, where father Rufin got to know Sylvette. Gaël’s mother is a nurse from Martinique, another island in the Caribbean that’s part of France’s overseas territories. Rufin and Sylvette moved to Paris in the 80s, giving birth to Gaël in 1986. Gaël also has a brother Daryl, which whom he briefly played doubles in 2012 without success. These days the oldest of the Monfils brothers lives in the small Swiss town of Trélex.
WORLD CHAMPION PADEL
In addition to his multicultural background, ‘Sliderman’, thus named due to his remarkable sliding style, is also a multisport athlete. Gaël was considered a great sprinting talent as a teenager, becoming the French U13 and U14 100 metres champion. He only stopped sprinting because he preferred playing tennis. His athletics coach once said Gaël had the talent to reach on Olympic sprinting final.
The second Frenchman on the ATP ranking did become a world champion in padel, a spectacular crossover between tennis and squash in a metal cage. That happened by coincidence after Monfils was eliminated from the 2006 tournament of Las Vegas in the first round. He stuck around to prepare for Indian Wells and stumbled upon the game of padel for the first time. The organisers of the Las Vegas tournament also happened to organise the world padel championships and gave crowd favourite Monfils a wildcard. In the first round he immediately beat Scott Freedman, the so-called Federer of padel, and ultimately he became the world champion!
Around 2010 Monfils also started his career as a poker player. That year he was part of the Team Pro France PokerStars 131. In April he made it to the final table of the European Poker Tour event in Monaco.
CLIP WITH 67 MILLION VIEWS
Tennis, athletics, padel, poker: it’s quite the collection of achievements. The French tennis star has also made an appearance in pop music by featuring in the video clip of Hello, the hit single of French DJ Martin Solveig and singer Dragonette. The video clip shows a game of tennis between Solveig and his French colleague Bob Sinclair, which doesn’t go very well. The DJ duo calls in the help of Monfils and Novak Djokovic. By now 67 million people saw Monfils giving Solveig’s girlfriend a kiss at the end of the clip.
Do you want to say ‘Hello’ to Gaël Monfils as well? In mid-October the flamboyant Frenchman will be one of the absolute crowd favourites of the European Open in the Lotto Arena in Antwerp!