French tennis veteran Gael Monfils broke down in tears as he lay sprawled on the sand of the Philippe Chatrier court at the French Open after pulling off one of the most incredible comebacks in Rolland Garros history.
The 36-year-old hometown hero trailed 4-0 in the fifth set before storming home to defeat Sebastian Baez 3-6 6-3 7-5 1-6 7-5.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: French tennis veteran Gael Monfils breaks down in tears after the Rolland-Garros marathon.
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The epic marathon lasted almost four hours, the clock stopped after three hours and 47 minutes at 00:18 local time.
Monfils not only fought against his Argentinian opponent who was 14 years his junior; He also battled debilitating leg cramps to claim one of the most memorable wins of his career.
The French fan-favorite-turned-entertainer, despite clearly struggling with leg cramps, had the humility to ridicule his own plight by expressing his pain to the audience with a hilarious, penguin-like waddle after scoring a point had won.
Monfils joined Baez at net to shake his hand after firing the winning pass shot before addressing the crowd in relief, joy and disbelief as he fell to the ground and began to sob with emotion.
It was also the veteran’s first tour-level win since August and his first since becoming a father.
Monfils and Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina gave birth to their baby daughter Skai in October.
Meanwhile, from an Australian perspective at the French Open, two hard-fought tie-breaks were enough to dashed hopes of Australian pairing Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler to reclaim the men’s Grand Slam doubles crown at the first hurdle.
The wildcard duo, who had never played together before their unexpected triumph at Melbourne Park in January, could hardly believe they eliminated three top-10 seeds and subsequently replaced Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis as Australian Open champions.
Seeded as number 15 and considered a real contender in Paris, they had hoped to cause more upsets but then lost 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) to Portugal’s Francisco Cabral and the Brazilian Rafael Matos the first round on Tuesday morning.
With each pair securing a break in the two-hour bout, the game ended with two narrow breakers, with the Australian pair struggling to hold out in the second set, 5-6 down to secure two match points.
They stayed alive in the ensuing tie-break, fighting their way back from a 2-5 deficit to 5-5, but it wasn’t enough.
It spells the end of the Australian men’s chances of another Grand Slam win, this time at Roland Garros, after Hijikata and Kübler’s triumphs in Melbourne and Max Purcell and Matt Ebden’s triumphs at Wimbledon.
Kokkinakis, who linked up with Jan-Lennard Struff before hoping for a Kyrgios reunion at Wimbledon, was also eliminated with his new German partner on Tuesday, losing 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6 :3 against the Italian Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli.
However, Purcell plans to play his first-round match with young American talent Brian Shelton against Britain’s Julian Cash and Henry Patten on Wednesday, despite the ankle injury sustained in his singles win over Jordan Thompson.
– With AAP