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Magical Monfils Lights Up Paris with Pulsating Roland Garros Comeback

Gael Monfils of France celebrates against Sebastian Baez of Argentina during their Men’s Singles First Round Match on Day Three of the 2023 French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2023 in Paris, France. Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Facing a 0-4 deficit in the decisive set, Gael Monfils could see his French Open dream dissipate in the dirt.

Then a magical Monfils created visionary comeback.

Taking French fans on a thrill ride, Monfils charged through seven of the final eight games roaring past Sebastian Baez  3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a wild Roland Garros comeback on Tuesday night.

The adrenaline rush was so massive, Monfils said he felt disorientated at times.

“You forget it’s the first round, you’ll say, Oh, wow, that was amazing crazy this evening, and then I didn’t even know where I was,” Monfils said. “And I thought, I succeeded, I won this match. Even though I knew deep within it would be really tough, I practiced against him last week, I thought he was such a player.

“When I saw the draw, I was not very happy. I thought, no, this is not the game play I want. Not for the first round. And then once the match started, well, you have to accept, you accept, and then I found solutions, unexpected solutions. I’m very, very happy, you see. As I said, it’s one of my best matches, the best sports moment I could experience.”

Baez served for the match at 5-4, but could not get to match point.

The 36-year-old Monfils ripped a forehand winner to break back at 5-all.

Battling cramps and a speedy Argentinean opponent, Monfils closed out a spirited victory in three hours, 47 minutes. Monfils will face sixth-seeded Holger Rune in round two.

“I was cramping at the end, a lot of with the nerves, and of course I’m tired, but it’s a big part of the nerves,” Monfils said. “I’m playing full adrenaline, like honestly I asked the crowd to scream, and somehow I juice up. I know at one hand I will pay, I will pay, and I had to hold it at the end. But I hope to have a good night today and tomorrow and heavy recover, and no matter what, I will be ready for him Thursday.”