Monfils perplexed by PlayStation injury story

France’s Gael Monfils in action during his match against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis during the Australian Open Third Round match at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, January 25, 2020. — Reuters pic
France’s Gael Monfils in action during his match against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis during the Australian Open Third Round match at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, January 25, 2020. — Reuters pic

MELBOURNE, Jan 25 —  Great entertainer Gael Monfils charged into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday before rounding on the media for a “made up” story about him injuring his hand while playing video games.

The 10th seed ousted Ernests Gulbis 7-6(2) 6-4 6-3 on Melbourne Arena showing no signs of a hand injury French media reports last weekend had said resulted from him hitting the bed-board in frustration while on his PlayStation.

“I say this in a funny way but it’s a disgrace to be honest with you because I’m fine,” the 33-year-old told reporters.

“I’m in second week, playing great tennis. I never said I was hurt. Playing PlayStation, this? Come on? And it’s easy, because I think I’m a good name to make up a good story like that. Now you know.”

The Frenchman will face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16 as he looks to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the second time after 2016.

Monfils has never beaten the twice Roland Garros finalist in five attempts.

“He’s always tricky and has improved a lot on hard court. I think he’s playing great at the moment,” said Monfils.

“So I just have to be myself, try to figure out with my coach a good way to beat him. I feel fine physically, so that will help.”

Thiem reached the fourth round on Saturday with a 6-2 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 win over American Taylor Fritz that was more difficult that the scoreline suggested, with the Austrian having to save six break points in the second set alone.

The 26-year-old’s name comes up frequently on lists of younger players who could make a Grand Slam breakthrough this year, but Monfils said winning one of the sport’s four major prizes was still a realistic goal for him too.

“I love the game. I love waking up every morning with the goal to win a slam for the first time,” he said.

“I love to play big matches. I think it’s that that keeps the fire in me, keeps me on alert. I still have a strong belief I can make it.” — Reuters

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