BELGRADE, May 25, 2021
Frenchman Gael Monfils has arrived in the capital city of Serbia, where he will be the No. 2 seed of the €511,000 Belgrade Open, hosted by the Novak Tennis Centre.
After his first practice session on Monday, the World No. 15 spent some time with the ball kids of the ATP 250 clay-court tournament. To their great joy, Monfils hit a couple of balls with them.
Monfils, a winner of 10 ATP Tour titles, played last week on home soil at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in Lyon, where he lost to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the second round.
“Immediately the next day, I trained with Roger Federer in Switzerland, he asked me if I was free. I started feeling a lot better. For a long time I’ve been trying to return to a good form, and I think I’m slowly but surely progressing toward that now. I feel a lot better, I trained hard in the gym. I need matches for confidence, but I think it’s been getting better day after day. The last time I was here in Belgrade, I was at the finals of the Davis Cup,” Monfils said during his virtual press conference.
— Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) May 22, 2021
After Belgrade, the 34-year-old Paris native will be competing in the French Open at Roland-Garros.
“I am glad to return to Paris. Last year, I had the worst performance there since I have turned pro. I want to shine again. Paris was always a magical place for me, different from the others. Every time I step on the court it’s a special moment for me,” said Monfils, who will open his Belgrade campaign after a first-round bye against Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena on Wednesday. The pair will meet for the first time.