In the case of Gael Monfils as far as to round three…
After a rousing victory over Thomas Berdych, where, having won the first two sets, Berdych pulled back to level the match but using the crowd to lift him, Monfils found the inspiration to break Berdych and win in the fifth. Two days later, Monfils dropped the first set against Gulbis but went on to win in four.
Today, the delightfully entertaining Monfils came up against Tommy Robredo, an experienced and talented Spanish player, who, like Monfils, has also had his day in the top ten and is at home on the clay. Again Monfils was inspired in winning the first two sets but, tiring, he dropped the next two. This time there was no reprieve for the clearly drained Monfils. Despite having match points and serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth, the tenacious Robredo broke serve and leveled the match.
Despite a return to form for Monfils in the run up to Roland Garros, winning a challenger and being runner up in Nice, spending most of the last year out with injury is no preparation for a series of best of five sets and Monfils eventually ran out of steam, dropping the fifth 6-2.
“I have to give him credit because I think I wasn’t shy,” said Monfils. “I went for my shots. I missed maybe some, but some he played good points. It was very close. And when you lose a match, you’re not happy. But you can always find something positive in the match.
“Maybe today he was physically fitter than me. It is frustrating, because I don’t like to lose matches for physical or fitness reasons. But today I have to admit he was stronger.”
The 31 year old Robredo is no spring chicken himself and has been on something of a comeback march, rising from 114 at the start of the year to 34 currently. However, an advantage he clearly had over Monfils was fitness, or endurance. While Monfils was visibly struggling during the final set, Robredo was able to take advantage. The physically better prepared Robredo held firm.