Monfils in 'tanking' storm

Gael Monfils returning against Jerzy Janowicz in Cincinnati. Television commentators quipped that the Frenchman was in such a hurry that he might have had an appointment to play golf instead.
Gael Monfils returning against Jerzy Janowicz in Cincinnati. Television commentators quipped that the Frenchman was in such a hurry that he might have had an appointment to play golf instead.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mercurial Frenchman accused of not trying in straight-sets defeat by Poland's Janowicz

CINCINNATI • Gael Monfils was accused of "tanking" during his first-round defeat at the Cincinnati Open, when the 14th-seeded Frenchman lost to Poland's Jerzy Janowicz 4-6, 5-7 in 75 minutes on Monday.

Monfils served so quickly in the second set that the ball boys barely had time to get into position after each point before play resumed.

At one stage, television commentators joked that they thought he was in such a hurry because he had a tee time booked to play golf.

During one rally, he even turned his back on his opponent briefly, prompting disbelief in the commentary box.

"To not give 100 per cent and be so blatant about it, I think it's disrespectful," two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin said on the Tennis Channel. "It looked like exhibition tennis. We've seen that way too many times with him.

HARD TO FATHOM

With Gael, it's so difficult to watch because you know his upside ceiling could be so big but he just goes away and doesn't even try.

TRACY AUSTIN, former world No. 1, on her assertion that Frenchman Gael Monfils was tanking against Jerry Janowicz

"With Gael, it's so difficult to watch because you know his upside ceiling could be so big but he just goes away and doesn't even try."

Despite his apparent indifference, Monfils actually had a set point in the second before succumbing to the big-serving Pole.

Monfils' 10th-seeded compatriot Gilles Simon was also sent packing after losing 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 3-6 to Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, who blasted 35 aces and outlasted the Frenchman in a long match that was extended by a rain delay.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who had a first-round bye, will face Frenchmen Benoit Paire in the second round while American Mardy Fish takes on Rogers Cup champion Andy Murray.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also received first-round byes.

In the women's action, Venus Williams held off young challenger Zarina Diyas 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to reach the second round, where she will meet Russia's Ana Ivanovic.

Diyas, a rising 21-year-old from Kazakhstan, fell behind in both sets but refused to back down. Veteran Williams managed to win the opening set tie-breaker 8-6 and hit 32 winners in the match.

A seven-time Grand Slam champion, Williams has long fallen into the background behind younger sister Serena, who will be shooting for the calendar-year Grand Slam and attempt to win her 22nd major title at the US Open in a couple of weeks.

"Preparations are under way (for the US Open) but it still doesn't feel that close," Venus said after the match. "My opponent (Diyas) played so well today. She was so determined out there."

Venus will now face ninth-ranked Ivanovic, seeded sixth in the tournament, in the second round.

The tournament's opening day featured a couple of upsets as ninth seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain went down to Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-7 (0-7). Timea Bacsinszky, the 12th seed, was beaten by Madison Keys 6-4, 6-3.

Germany's Andrea Petkovic and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic both advanced.

REUTERS

CINCINNATI OPEN
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline 'MONFILS IN 'TANKING' STORM'. Print Edition | Subscribe