Ask any Team Europe 2023 player to talk about the value Gael Monfils brings to a new lineup under Captain Bjorn Borg, and the response is unanimous. The Frenchman is the ultimate entertainer, loved by audiences the world over for his never-say-die fighting spirit, his extraordinary athleticism, and his expressiveness on court.
Monfils’ natural charisma and high-risk shot-making have led to a No.6 ATP singles ranking in 2016 and, since turning pro nearly 20 years ago, 11 singles titles. The former world No.1 junior has been a finalist on 22 other occasions – including three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments.
“For so many years he’s been on Tour entertaining people and bringing his great energy, so it would be amazing to have such a teammate,” says fellow Team Europe first-timer Hubert Hurkacz.
Gael is one of the most talented players that we have, super entertaining and super fun, so hopefully he will balance the team and make a lot of fun for us,” adds Rublev.
Casper Ruud credits Monfils with guiding him in the beginning of the Norwegian’s career at several ATP Tour tournaments. “He came to South America one year and he was great, he took me to dinner,” recalls Ruud. “I was young, I was only 18 or 19 and he bought me dinner. I had all these questions, I was young, uncertain about different things and he was there to kind of guide me. I look forward to having him on the team.”
Since being named ATP Newcomer of the Year in 2005, Monfils has proved a major force on all surfaces. He was a Roland Garros semifinalist in 2008, a US Open semifinalist in 2016, an Australian Open quarterfinalist in 2016 and 2022, and at Wimbledon, his best result was the fourth round in 2018.
How it’s going
Married to WTA champion Elina Svitolina and becoming a father to daughter Skaï in October 2022, Monfils’ career has been impacted by injury, however the 37-year-old says his passion for tennis burns bright and he plans to compete well past the Paris Olympics in 2024. The flamboyant veteran returned to the pro tour after a four-month hiatus at Indian Wells and hit his stride at the Toronto Masters, upsetting teammate Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 6-3 in the second round en route to a close, three-set loss to eventual champion Jannik Sinner.
He continued the momentum at the Cincinnati Masters, beating No.15 Cameron Norrie and No.12 Alex de Minaur before a third-round loss to the history-making champion, Novak Djokovic. Monfils won his first round at the US Open against Taro Daniel and pushed world No.8 and Team Europe teammate Andrey Rublev to four sets in their grueling second-round baseline battle.
Monfils at Laver Cup 2023
Monfils is the perfect fit for Laver Cup competition, an experienced and dedicated team player, capable of upsetting the best players in the world and drawing tennis fans to his corner with his flashy antics and animated style.
Nicknamed ‘La Monf’, he was thrilled to get the call to join Team Europe’s bench in Vancouver.
“It was for me something I wanted to be part of because I think it’s cool, it’s a team competition,” he says. “It’s good for sport to see rivalries and then be teammates. It’s a really cool idea for that.
I bring great energy, fun and of course I try to be a good teammate and lift the team and try to share a little bit of experience.
“The youngsters will help to carry the old men!
“I know the guys quite good already, it’s good to spend a little bit more time, and get a little bit closer.”