The only thing to expect when Monfils takes the court is the UN-expected. It was more of the same for the Frenchman on Day 2 of the Australian Open against fellow Frenchie, Lucas Pouille. The qualifier took advantage of Monfils lack of preparation for this year’s tournament as Monfils had pulled out of his only scheduled tournament due to “personal issues.” Two two played a very straight forward opening set with both men holding the entire way through to a tie break. There were only two break chances in the set, both on Puille’s serve and Monfils could not convert. In the tie break, Monfils had major issues on his own serve as he lost four of his five service points to see Pouille take the opener, 7-3 in the TB. The 2nd set got off to a listless start for Monfils as Pouille broke him on the 2nd chance he saw in Monfils’ first service game for a 2-0 lead. Pouille would consolidate the break and roll to a 6-3 2nd set win to take a two sets to none lead.
The third set was full of the tension you’d expect from a seeded player fighting to survive. Monfils was steadier on-serve as he held all five of his service games to take a 5-4 lead late into the set. Pouille seemed to feel the tension as well of trying to close out a massive upset win over a fellow countryman as he gave Monfils three breaks chances in his last two service games. Monfils would not falter this time as he converted on the third chance and had the crowd in his pocket after a very stylish set that featured a variety of highlight Monfilsian shots that few else would attempt and fewer would make. Monfils would nearly let all that work go for naught in his opening service game of the 4th set as he fended off four break points before holding. They would trade holds to see Monfils up 2-1 when he struck again as he broke Pouille to love for a 3-1 margin. Monfils would hold and break Pouille again to salt away the set, 6-1
The 5th set did not disappoint for drama. With momentum on his side, Monfils inexplicably hiccuped early in the set, broken as Pouille ran out to a 3-1 lead. Monfils dug in though with a quick love hold and then ate into the Pouille serve for another break. After six games, it was even 3-3. Pouille did not fold though as he fought off a break point and traded holds again to go 4-4 with Monfils. But Monfils was equal to the task at the right time as he found one more break chance off the qualifier’s serve in the 9th game after some unfortunate errors, Monfils broke Pouille to go up 5-4. He would capitalize on his 2nd match point off his own serve to survive with a 6-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 win. This match was vintage Monfils. Maddening, exhilirating, feigning or carrying an injury – do you ever know with him? In the end though, it’s just what the day needed.
The American battled 13th seeded Andrea Petkovic in the opening round and put on a display of grit and guile that should have won her quite a few fans. Brengle came into the match with just a single Grand Slam win under her belt, while Petkovic was the veteran who made the French Open semis in 2014 and seemed to have all the qualities to out-fox her younger counterpart. The opening set looked to be an easy coast job for the German as she broke Brengle’s serve to take a 3-1 lead. Service holds would take the set to 5-3 in favor of Petkovic. Trying to serve the set out though, Brengle would find a chance and break Petkovic to keep her in the set. A trade of holds found the set at 6-5 for Petkovic with Brengle to serve. An unlucky net cord hurt Brengle as she tried to stay in the match. The ball hung up off the cord and Petkovic pounced with a big forehand passing shot to take the set, 7-5.
The 2nd set was a rollercoaster ride with six breaks of serve that would utlimately find the set in a tie break after Brengle was unable to serve out the set at 6-5. Brengle found a way throug the tie break, 7-4 to even things at one set each. To the third, the unforced errors piled up for both players. It was Brengle though who was a shade better in that category and she took advantage early with a break for a 2-0 lead. It’s WTA though and that would not last as she blew a 3-0 lead with Petkovic rallying back off a break to pull within 3-2. Brengle was undaunted as she worked over Petkovic’s serve for another break to take a 4-2 lead. The breaks continued fast and furious as the two traded them with the end result a 5-3 lead for Brengle. After the final break to love on Petkovic’s serve, the German seemed broken in spirit as Brengle mustered a love-hold on-serve to take the match. By match’s end, Brengle would have 44 unforeced errors to Petkovic’s 64. Petkovic committed 20 of those in the final set that really doomed her, but to Brengle’s credit she never wavered. She was a perfect 7/7 in breaking Petkovic, while holding off Petkovic six of the 13 times she offered up a break chance. That was huge for the American and part of the reason she’s alive into the 2nd round.