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January 31, 2011

Gael Monfils

THE MODERATOR: Gaël will be participating in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships for the first time in his career, is currently ranked No. 12 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP rankings. In his career Gaël has captured three singles titles, most recently winning the 2010 title at Montpelier, France, where as the tournament's No. 3 seed he defeated Ivan Ljubicic 6-2, 5-7, 6-1. Monfils will be making his debut in Memphis on Wednesday, February 16th.
Before we open it up for questions I'd like to introduce tournament director Peter Lebedevs, who will have a few comments and questions for Gaël. Peter?
PETER LEBEDEVS: Gaël, we're glad to have you in Memphis. We're very, very excited about having you for the first time here. Your style of play is so electric. The fans are excited about it. This year you had your most wins you've ever had, 46 on tour, and looking like it's going to get better. Tell us about how you'd sum up last year, how good of a year it was for you and what your plans are for this year.
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I think I had pretty good record. I think I had a tough time in the start of the season last year, and that's why I think I had more time to work physically to have a good end of my season, and then for this year I think I will try to continue working hard on my body and stay healthy like I do in all the year, so yeah, I think one of my goals I think will be to stay healthy all the year because I think I'm capable to reach again the top ten and stay longer than a few weeks.
PETER LEBEDEVS: We'd love to start that off here in Memphis. In 2008 you got together with a new coach, Roger Rasheed, an Australian, and he's well known for his training. Has that helped you stay healthy? Do you think that's going to help you this year with all the training you're doing with Roger?
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, of course, because I think Roger is a very hard coach, and all the time he tries to push my limits further, and then for him I think his main goal is to build my body to stay healthy for one year and also to feel I'm strong and I can play like weeks after weeks with no major problems. So of course like his way of work will help me to -- help my body to stay quite good.

Q. I wanted to ask you, I read where Roger Federer enjoys I guess the level of excitement you bring to a tournament, everything from your shot making to your personality, your athleticism. Where did that style of play and on-court presence come from? How did you develop that style?
GAËL MONFILS: I think would be more my parents because my parents educate me like this and to enjoy on the court. My parents always told me it's a sport, and you can't be sad, you can't cry on the court. You have to just enjoy and let it be all yourself, whatever you can call that, but just enjoy on the court and be yourself.
And I think I keep it like for all now my career, and I'm just me on the court. I love to let my emotion out and love to share with people. When the crowd shows me the love, they give me like more energy. So I think this comes from my parents.

Q. So do they also get credit for your on-court dancing after wins? Is that something you started?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, dancing, I mean, maybe more my dad because my dad danced a lot, so that's why. But it just is fun because I like dance, as well, and I have a lot of dancer friends, so it's just like a little sign from me for the court.

Q. You've also been described as having someone that leaves everything out there on the court, just playing all-out. How much in the past has that style led to some of the injuries you've suffered?
GAËL MONFILS: I don't think it's about my game style I get injured. I think sometimes I was out of luck. My knees is just a genetic problem because I grew too fast. And then I have like a few injuries, like one was like three months and a half because I slide on the grass, but it was not like a purpose slide, it was just I fell on my wrist and broke something.
I think most people like think I get injuries because of my style of play, but 100 percent is not; it's just sometime unlucky or like genetic problem, like basic problem.

Q. How do you like hard indoor courts like the ones you'll be playing on in Memphis?
GAËL MONFILS: I really like it because it's like no wind, no sun, so this is helpful. And I think now I'm more aggressive so I can more hold my best line. So I can get credit with my serve. I feel really comfortable, and also the movement is easier on an indoor court.

Q. Do you like a fast court?
GAËL MONFILS: Not too, too fast, but fast, yeah, it's all right, because with my serve for sure you have to like it, but not too fast.

Q. What's your second-best sport?
GAËL MONFILS: Basketball, NBA. I'm a big Denver Nuggets fan.

Q. Can you dunk?
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, of course.

Q. Did you say yes, of course?

Q. Two hands?
GAËL MONFILS: One hand. Two hands in the French size and I think the USA size I've never tried but I don't think, but one hand for sure.

Q. Will there be dreads or no dreads in Memphis?
GAËL MONFILS: Don't know yet. We'll think about it.

Q. Don't know yet?
GAËL MONFILS: Don't know yet.

Q. If you don't win this tournament, who do you think will?
GAËL MONFILS: Maybe Soderling.

Q. Who?
GAEL MONFILS: Soderling I think.

Q. Have you ever been to Memphis before?
GAËL MONFILS: No, will be the first time.

Q. Know anything about it?
GAËL MONFILS: I heard it was like a really cold place, the weather was really cold. And also you've got good, I think, football team. I heard that. That's it I know.

Q. Do you have a girlfriend?
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, I have a girlfriend, yeah.

Q. Is she a tennis player?
GAËL MONFILS: She's not a tennis player.

Q. There's a women's tournament at the same time the men's tournament is going on in Memphis. If you only got one serve, could a woman in the top ten get a set off of you?
GAËL MONFILS: Would you say again?

Q. If you were playing a woman from the top ten, let's say Clijsters or one of the other women in the top ten, and you only got one serve the whole match and they got two serves, could they get a set off of you?

Q. Could they get a game?

Q. Mm-hmm.
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I'd say probably yeah, maybe a game, yeah.

Q. What's your most amazing shot?
GAËL MONFILS: 360 smash.

Q. Describe that.
GAËL MONFILS: Like sometimes I let the ball bounce once, like from a high ball, and I just try to flip it around me like 360 dunk, but I do it with a smash.

Q. I hope we get to see that in Memphis. Will you try it if you get a chance?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, for sure.

Q. You've got a lot of interesting pictures on Google(tm) when I called up your pictures. You're really ripped. You must work out a lot. Do you?
GAËL MONFILS: Not a lot. I think is like more gifted by my parents. I mean, I'm big sometimes, but I work out like normal, not like massive.

Q. Are your parents tall?
GAËL MONFILS: My mom, she's one meter 73 centimeters, and my dad is one meter 85 centimeters.

Q. When we were talking about some of your amazing shots, do you practice those, or do they just kind of happen when you're out there playing?
GAËL MONFILS: I don't practice them, but when I'm with my friends and sometimes we play tennis, and for sure we try tricks, just like that, jump. We don't practice, but a few weeks ago I was like maybe practice to see if you can flip and smash, but it's not practice. You try it like for ten minutes and sometimes you get it, so when and if you're ready you can just do it in the match because it will be more fun, like new shot.

Q. You must enjoy the way the crowd reacts when you complete a shot like that.
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, first you're a bit nervous because you know you will do it and then you have to make it.

Q. I guess you've heard as long as you've been playing at a high level about no French tennis player having won a Grand Slam title in nearly 30 years now. How often are you reminded of that, and what kind of pressure does that create?
GAËL MONFILS: I think actually every Slam a journalist is like why never a French guy can win a Slam. The answer is like it is not easy, but like I said, we've got two legends of tennis with us, we've got Roger Federer No. 1 and then we've got Rafael Nadal. Over two years now they just dominate the tennis and grab the title and then when you get a small place like -- you've got Novak or a guy like Murray or like Roddick or Soderling, so it's pretty tight. So you need a bit of luck and you need also a good draw. And then for two weeks you need to feel like you need to play unbelievable tennis.
So it's hard, but I think we're quite strong, I say like the top four French players. I believe one of us will finally get one, and I hope it will be very soon.

Q. Have you ever hit with Yannick Noah or Henri Leconte? They've both played here in Memphis.
GAËL MONFILS: I never hit with Yannick, and with Henri, yes, I had a few hits with Henri.

Q. I think he's the last Frenchman to do well here, isn't he, Peter?
PETER LEBEDEVS: Yeah, Yannick got to the final of our event, and actually so did Henri Leconte. Both of them got to the final here.

Q. Did you watch the finals of the Australian yesterday?
GAËL MONFILS: No, I just saw the highlights.

Q. Djokovic took off his shirt and threw it in the crowd after he won. Will you do that if you win here?

Q. I think it'll sell tickets if we can put that out there.

Q. I just wanted to ask, I know you've been spending some time the last year or so playing some poker, poker tournaments; is that correct?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, that's correct, yeah.

Q. And you've had some success. In Memphis -- Memphis by the way does have a professional basketball team, also, just to let you know.
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I know the guy. I follow the NBA.

Q. So if you can dunk maybe you can play with them after you finish in the tournament there. But anyway, just to let you know, there are some very nice casinos very close by to Memphis where you can play, maybe play some poker. Would that interest you?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, of course, if I have the time and if I don't play the day after, yeah, why not?
PETER LEBEDEVS: Our stadium that we have here, and we're excited to have you here, the crowds are going to be very, very close to you. The furthest person away from our stadium is 20 meters away. You're going to be right next to the people and they're going to love having you here, so we appreciate your time today, and thank you to all the media for being on this call, and Gaël, we look forward to having you in Memphis in two weeks.
GAËL MONFILS: Thank you very much, and will be a great week for sure.

End of FastScripts

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