Memo to all who intend to play on Ashe: it is damn windy out there.To those who are able to adjust their games, you will be rewarded. For those who find it an unmanageable challenge, the hours will be long.
Monfils was playing for his first Slam semi-final against Djokovic, whom he’s never beaten in their previous four meetings. I must confess, I imagined some excitement, great shot-making and four sets. It was always going to be difficult for Monfils to win this one as Djokovic has been playing the best I’ve seen in a long time. He usually looks like he doesn’t want to be on court but of late, he’s seemed positively focused and committed. Still, Monfils didn’t look like any slouch either; he showed maturity and constraint in his win over Gasquet; sure he’s a minion but it was the quality of Monfils’ play that caught my attention.
I think Monfils showed up in the first set with his game face. He quickly earned a break of serve and consolidated it with his own hold. Then he sacrificed the break with an absolutely incomprehensible between the legs shot that was careless and ill-timed. Still he held serve and took us to a tiebreak, where suddenly his assured serving went away and he committed several double faults and then the first set went to Djokovic.
I hate to say it but at that point, the energy left the match and Monfils left the building. His body was on the court, but he just didn’t seem invested in the match anymore. It reminded me of a closely contested first set I saw between he and Andy Roddick in Miami ’09. He lost that match after playing an intense tiebreak only to disappear emotionally in the 2nd set. As I sat in the stands, I could tell that the others in the stadium also sensed his lack of intensity. I wondered if they felt as anxious, annoyed, and impatient. Why the hell is Monfils even here if he’s not prepared to give his all. Did he not get the memo from Ferrer the night before?!?
We began to get desperate for any signs that he remained ready to play, clapping exuberantly at any outrageous get or at his many break point chances that he never converted. In the end, I do what I always do when I felt my time was wasted, I left the building. Frankly, I can’t care more about a match than the person on the court.