Olympics on hardcourts last year, has showed a growing playing prowess on surfaces
other than his favorite surface of clay in recent years. The lefthander has never
lost a match at the French Open, winning the singles title the last four years.
After losing his first six tournaments of 2007, which where contested on hardcourts, Nadal then went on to win six of his next seven tournaments to move from a world ranking of two to number one. In addition to winning the 2007 French Open during this winning streak, Nadal also took a grasscourt title at Queen's Club London and a hardcourt title in Canada.
In 2004, Monfils as a teenaged junior player reached the world's number one junior ranking after sweeping the junior titles at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. The lanky 6 foot 4 inches tall righthander relies on a mixture of defense and offense from the baseline plus an overpowering serve which reaches speeds of more than 140 miles per hour.
In 2005, Monfils aged 22, won his lone career ATP Tour singles title on the clay of Sopot, Poland. His defensive skills and aggressive serving proved to be major keys to his victory today against the more experienced Nadal. Monfils would win 83 percent of his first serve points.
“He played better than me,” Nadal said. “I didn’t play my best, but I had my chances. Gael
served very well, and played aggressive, not making a lot of mistakes. I made more mistakes than him, that was the difference. Now I have one and a half weeks to get ready for the Australian Open.”
And after reaching the Doha final in 2006, Monfils was thrilled at his chance this year to go one step further.
“I am very happy, because it is not every day that one can beat the world number one,” Monfils said. “I made sure not to stop and watch him play, and I always believed in my chances, so I’m really happy.”
In Friday's semifinals, Monfils is set to meet the fourth seed and American Andy Roddick, while the second seed Federer will take on the third seed and Briton Andy Murray.