At 33, Monfils hopes it's not too late to win Slam

by Bill SCOTT
·2-min read
Champion: Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils won his second ATP title in as many weeks on Sunday in Rotterdam before insisting that he still has a Grand Slam victory in him despite being 33. French third seed Monfils capped off a fortnight of success with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Felix Auger-Aliassime, handing the Canadian teenager his fourth loss in four career finals. Monfils has now won his last 10 matches at the Dutch tournament after claiming the 2019 title over Stan Wawrinka. A week ago he lifted the title in Montpellier. Now with 10 career titles under his belt, the world number nine said he still dreams of winning a Masters 1000 title and even, perhaps, a Grand Slam. "Before the season, I wanted to stay in the top 10, maybe try to reach fifth or sixth in the world," said Monfils. "I want to try and reach the final in a Masters 1000 and try to win one. The dream is also to win a Slam, that's what I play and train for. Maybe one day I can do that. "But I need to keep healthy, be 100 per cent and keep believing that I can make it." Monfils has been a runner-up at the Masters level three times -- at Paris in 2009 and 2010 and Monte Carlo in 2016. His best runs at the majors remain semi-final spots at Roland Garros in 2008 and the 2016 US Open. "It's an amazing feeling to back it (tournament title) up for the first time, year after year, week after week," added Monfils of his successful Rotterdam title defence. "I've never experienced that in my career. I feel grateful -- and I'm happy I don't have to play next week. I can release the pressure." Auger-Aliassime, 19, has now lost all four of his ATP finals following defeats in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart in 2019. He was also a member of the Canadian side which lost to Spain in last year's Davis Cup final. "Gael defended well and made me play," admitted the 21st-ranked Canadian. "Bravo Gael, I'm happy for you. It was tough for me, losing my fourth career final, but I had an amazing week." Monfils secured the opening set on Sunday with two breaks of serve and looked like running away with the second. But the Canadian youngster fought back in the eighth game of the set, breaking for 3-5 and clawing back to 4-5 before Monfils finally prevailed in 87 minutes. Champion: Gael Monfils