Gael Monfils has enjoyed success at every level. He was one of the top juniors of the 21st Century, having won three of the four junior Grand Slam titles in 2004, and has gone on to an excellent career as a professional, winning six tour titles and climbing to No. 7 in the world in 2011.
This year, the 2010 US Open quarterfinalist will make his debut at the BB&T Atlanta Open. After committing to the event, he sat down with BB&T Atlanta Open’s Rick Limpert. Here’s an excerpt of their interview:
Rick Limpert: Gael, thanks for this call, and making Atlanta a stop on your way to the 2014 US Open. What have you heard about Atlanta and the BB&T Atlanta Open?
Gael Monfils: I've heard a lot of great things about Atlanta and the event. I heard there are a lot of things to do and it's a nicely run tournament. Of course the hard courts are good and I know about Atlanta from the hosting of the 1996 Olympic Games.
RL: The BB&T Atlanta Open is held right in the heart of Atlanta, a big city. That is unlike many of the other tournaments you play around the world. How do you feel about playing right in the city?
GM: I'm ready to see it. I'm haven't seen it yet, so not sure how I will feel, but I kind of like it better than playing where everything is far.
RL: Atlanta is a great tennis city. Both for those who love to play and watch the sport. How do you like playing in front of seasoned tennis fans?
GM: Of course, I like to play in front of anybody. I like to play for a full crowd and I like to play on the American hard courts. If the crowd gets into the action, that makes it even better. I'm looking forward to playing in front of the fans in Atlanta for the first time.
RL: John Isner is the defending champ in Atlanta at the BB&T Atlanta Open. You two have a little rivalry. (Monfils and Isner have played seven times, with Isner holding a 4-3 edge) What do you think of John?
GM: I love to play John. I think we have a great relationship, on and off the court. I have to say this: John is a great guy! We've played some great matches over the years and I lost to him at the US Open last year. We always play close matches. I would be happy to play John, since every time I do, it's a great experience.
RL: You've had some good success playing in the States on hard courts.
GM: Yeah, I like it. It feels great. I like to play on the hard courts, and the fans always give me a great welcome.
RL: It will be hot in Atlanta in July. Do you look at this as good preparation for the US Open?
GM: Of course. I think it is going to help me be prepared. I like that it is going to be hot and you have to get used to it.