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Gael Monfils Melts Down, Fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire Sounds Off On Tournament Following First-Round Australian Open 2021 Losses

By Ricky Dimon

It was a predictably disastrous 2021 Australian Open for struggling Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire.

Monfils, who has not won a match since tennis returned from the coronavirus hiatus last summer, saw his losing streak reach seven with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Emil Ruusuvuori on Monday afternoon.

But the real story was his meltdown in the post-match press conference.

“I would like to get up and tell you that this nightmare is over, but here I am,” admitted a tearful world No. 11. “I try to be patient; I work. But I can’t find the right tempo, the right pace, my playing. And I don’t feel good because I can’t do what I want, because I don’t have the confidence, because I can’t find my game, I can’t find my forehand, I can’t find my serve. This is what makes me not well. It is visible. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. I struggle. I try to try things but I can’t do it at all.”

Paire has been similarly hopeless over the past year, although his emotions are much different. The 31-year-old wasn’t sad; just mad. Paire–who was one of 72 players in hard quarantine for two weeks–went off on Tennis Australia following a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 setback against Gerasimov.

“Their tournament in my opinion is shitty,” the world No. 29 stated (translated from a French interview with L’Equipe). “My game and attitude today were OK, but overall I’m very disappointed by this event. I didn’t sign up for this. I signed for a protocol where I would be able to practice for 14 days.

“We had half-empty planes so you did not come in contact with anyone. And then you have a positive case and everyone is in quarantine. I did not come into contact with any person in the plane and after I went to the hotel on my own.”

“Really, in my opinion, this tournament is shitty. I still have difficulties understanding how you can organize tournaments and people don’t feel welcome. They have a huge loss if they don’t organize the tournament, so they have to do it whatever the cost. It’s about money.

“Most of the players come and think, ‘Oh there’s a little money to make here,’ so they come. I’m the first among them. But at the end of the day, if you have to make so many sacrifices and it still turns out so badly, with such mayhem, at some point you just have to say ‘stop.’ I don’t quite understand where we are going, I don’t quite understand what ATP is doing. It becomes almost grotesque. For me, tennis is not that. Frankly, I’m not enjoying it.”

There was basically nothing enjoyable for the French contingent on Day 1.

And now, one of their highest hopes–Ugo Humbert–has to go up against Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday…. What could possibly go wrong?!?!

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.