12 February 2017 – DUBAI, UAE: The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is set to welcome back one of the greatest entertainers on the ATP World Tour as Gael Monfils returns to the Emirates for the first time since 2008.
Back then the former junior world number one and Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon junior champion was ranked a modest 52 and fell in his opening match to Tomas Berdych, but he will arrive in Dubai fresh from his best ever season that saw him climb to world number six.
Now ranked ninth, in 2016 he not only won his sixth and biggest career title in Washington, but he advanced all the way to the semi-finals of the US Open without dropping a set before losing to Novak Djokovic. He also reached two further finals, at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo where he lost to Rafael Nadal, and in Rotterdam.
Add in a quarter-final at the Australian Open and semi-finals in Toronto and Tokyo, and further major quarter-finals at Indian Wells, Miami and the Rio Olympics, and it is little wonder that he qualified for the elite field of players at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. And all that was achieved despite a virus and a knee injury, and a rib injury that forced him to withdraw from Paris and then during the ATP Finals round-robin stage.
But it is his flamboyant antics on court that invariably gain the greatest attention, and there are numerous YouTube videos of his fantastic shot-making, with titles such as Only Gael Monfils Moments, Top 10 Crazy Winners and Top 10 Awesome Points. He plays down the idea that he deliberately sets out to astonish, but also reveals that the out of this world shots do not happen entirely by accident.
"I play tennis because I have fun. I play tennis because I love the sport," he said. "If not, I won't wake up every morning, train, because (although) most people think that jumping or doing a trick shot is gifted yes, it's gifted, but it's a lot of work. I won't say I work on the trick shot, but it's like I think physically I'm one of the best. To do that is because you're in great shape, you know.
"If I don't have fun I stop playing tennis, for sure. I think everything I do in my life I try to have fun, and I try to be creative on the tennis court, outside the tennis court. So for me it's just myself on the court. Outside of the court I create music, I create painting, I create whatever I want to create. I create, what you say, clothes. I create dance moves. I create anything."
"Many who play at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships have a very special talent, but none perform in such a unique way as Gael Monfils," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "He is able to produce the most astonishing shots at any moment and tennis fans are certain to enjoy watching one of the finest talents in the game."
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, "Gael Monfils is entirely unpredictable and that is what makes him such a joy to watch. He can make what seem to be impossible winners out of nothing, and although that does nothing to help the confidence of his baffled opponents it makes a lasting impression that those fortunate enough to watch him can take away with them."
Among those competing with Monfils for the title will be world number one Andy Murray, seven-time winner Roger Federer, 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time finalist Tomas Berdych and 2016 finalist Marcos Baghdatis. Action gets underway first with the WTA event that features seven of the world's top 10, including world number one Angelique Kerber, reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, 2017 Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova, 2017 Sydney champion Johanna Konta, 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova and former Dubai winners Sara Errani, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki.
Record crowds are expected again to flock to the stadium to witness the spectacular matches, as well as enjoying the packed social program which will see Dubai celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Championships in style. As always, the Tennis Village will be buzzing all fortnight with entertainment, music, autograph signings, the big screens showing the action live and a host of other events and activities including Kids’ Days, Ladies’ Night, and plenty of competitions for fans to win those sought after finals tickets.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for every day of the event including the finals are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are also available online through www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.