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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday January 23, 2022

“They broke the mold when they created this guy,” said commentator Robbie Koenig after Gael Monfils lashed a backhand winner on match point to defeat Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-3 on Sunday night in Melbourne.

Tennis Express

He wasn’t wrong. Monfils brand of tennis, when executed at its highest level, is a singular art unto itself. A soaring, kinetic brand of athleticism where perspiration, aviation and inspiration meet.

There’s nobody like him in the sport, and there probably never will be. That’s why it’s marvelous to see that the talented Frenchman has rekindled his passion for the sport and parlayed that joie de vivre into winning ways. He’s locked down eight victories in nine matches this January, and the No.17 seed will bid for a spot in his first Grand Slam semifinal since 2016 when he meets Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, the No.7 seed seed, in the quarterfinals.

When Monfils plays this well, it’s easy to wonder: how far can he take it? He’s in the top half of the draw, without Novak Djokovic, and now without Alexander Zverev – could he possibly make it all the way to the final?

The 35-year-old was asked on Sunday if he had ever felt so good at a Grand Slam, and he recalled 2014, the year he won his first 14 sets of the tournament, including two against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, before falling in a heartbreaking five-setter to the Swiss.

“I was playing super well at the 2014 US Open. Fantastic tennis,” he said in French, according to L’équipe. “Unfortunately I lost in the quarters with two match points against ''Roger'' (Federer)! There, I played well. We will have to play very well on Tuesday.”

Monfils, who is into his tenth Grand Slam quarterfinal, knows he will have his hands full with the man who topped him in a fifth-set tiebreak at the US Open quarterfinals in 2019.

“Very very good player for two years,” he said of the Italian. “One of the best servers around. A very flashy game, with lots of winners and a huge forehand. He moves better and better. He’s someone who really pushes you; it's going to be a big battle against a big puncher.”

Monfils doesn’t want to stop and rejoice over the fact that he is finally back to his winning ways after nearly two years of struggling during the pandemic, which hit him particularly hard (playing in empty stadiums is not Lamonf’s jazz). He says he wants to keep his eyes on the prize rather than sit back and reflect on how far he has come in these last months.

“It is not a finality,” he said of his run. “When you're racing in the tournament, you want to win one more game. I am focused for this quarter. I want to keep pushing.”