They’re in a relationship, they sit in each others’ boxes courtside, and even share an Instagram account, but when it comes to their tennis routines and philosophies Gael Monfils says he and Elina Svitolina could not be more different.
Svitolina was in attendance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Tuesday night to witness her boyfriend’s 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 victory over Marin Cilic in the first round. The Ukrainian WTA star is a two-time champion in the Emirates.
Monfils, who came to Dubai high on confidence from his title run in Rotterdam earlier this month, admits that Svitolina is “too serious” for him in the way she approaches her tennis, but that their contrasting methods is what makes their relationship work.
“I admire what she’s doing, how she works, the mentality she has. It’s incredible. But I always say but not for me, not for me. She’s too serious for me. It’s her way. It’s her way to be where she is. Even to become better, you know,” the Frenchman told reporters in Dubai after setting up a second round against Marcos Baghdatis.
“Me, the only motivation that I will say that we have is to make the other proud. I love when she win. I’m very proud of her. I think same for her.
“For myself, I’m serious on my way, which is normal way. It’s not different. I put a lot of work with my coach, a lot of work with myself to be back. Definitely is a bit different than her. At the end we try to be at the top with different way, different culture. That’s the beauty of the relationship.”
Monfils is known for his unique and relaxed approach to tennis, and he managed to reach No. 6 in the world in 2016 with that ‘joie de vivre’ attitude.
“I think what I’m doing, how I practice, I’m not sure like many players will be able to do what I’m doing. In a way, it’s different. I won’t be able to practice how some players do because it’s way different. Even I think it’s easier for me to adapt me to practice like them than them to practice like me,” added the 32-year-old.
The ever-entertaining Monfils took his head-to-head record against the third-seeded Cilic to a dominant 4-0 with his win on Tuesday. It seems like Cilic provides a good match-up for Monfils but he insists it’s a coincidence though.
“Just luck. I mean, when it’s luck… You know, I play him tomorrow, I can lose. It’s not every time. Today I was a bit better than him today,” said Monfils.
“I don’t particularly like his game. I think today what I see was one more time very, very good on the game plan set with my coach, like very good. This work. Is nothing with him.”
Cilic became the fourth seed to lose in the opening round in Dubai this week, joining Karen Khachanov, Milos Raonic and Daniil Medvedev.