Though he’s 7-2 for his career against the exceptionally talented Frenchman Gael Monfils, Roger Federer knows that’s not really the score anymore. In a casual interview after Federer’s latest easy victory at the US Open, Patrick McEnroe had the temerity to imply that Federer might have an easy time with Monfils too, when he faces him in the quarterfinals. McEnroe referenced the 7-2 career mark. Federer didn’t miss a beat before saying: “He beat me last year in Shanghai.” Roger Federer takes that kind of thing personally. It’s pretty easy for him to remember his losses, too–there simply haven’t been that many. And Federer knows that in their last two meetings, his record against Gael Monfils is merely 1-1. (Federer won the most recent match, weeks ago in Cincinnati, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.) Nothing about facing Monfils has been easy.
Plus if there is a player to watch who matches Federer for sheer beauty of play, it’s Monfils. He brings both extraordinary pace and power–and adds a singular grace. (What his countrymen might call “elan.”) He’s 6’4″ and moves like a puma. He’s a free spirit, too, on and off the court–that rarest of pros who plays without a coach. And No. 20 seed Monfils is playing as well as he’s played in his life this fortnight in New York. With the exception, that is, of some double faults–27 of them! It’ll be an entertaining match, for sure.