Once the best player in France before injuries took their toll, Gael Monfils took the court in front of his countrymen Monday at Roland Garros and delivered an upset for the ages. Taking on fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, a prime contender for the finals, Monfils survived for a stunning first round upset, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 7-5.
In a match that lasted more than four hours, Monfils battled through numerous contentious rallies with Berdych to stun the Paris crowd. After setting the intense tone early with a 10-8 tiebreaker victory in the first set, Monfils needed an impressive fifth set victory to avoid blowing his early advantage over the No. 6 player in the world.
Coming off a disappointing loss in the final of the Nice Open to Albert Montanes, Monfils showed determination in taking out a truly difficult opponent. Berdych is best known for reaching the 2010 Wimbledon final after beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He lost that match in straight sets to Rafael Nadal.
After blowing an early 2-0 set lead by dropping consecutive tiebreakers to force a fifth set, Monfils looked the confident one as Berdych failed to complete his comeback. Upon completing the victory, he burst into a display of unbridled excitement as the crowd roared.
In other news from Roland Garros, seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal trailed early in his first round match against Daniel Brands before completing a rally of his own. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Marin Cilic also prevailed in their early matches from the French capital.