Gael Monfils was accused of “tanking” during his first-round defeat at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Monday when the 14th-seeded Frenchman lost to Poland’s Jerry Janowicz 6-4, 7-5 in 75 minutes.
Monfils served so quickly in the second set that ball boys barely had time to get into position after each point before play resumed.
At one stage, TV commentators joked that they thought Monfils was in such a hurry, because he had a tee time booked to play golf.
“To not give 100 percent and be so blatant about it, I think it’s disrespectful,” two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin said on the Tennis Channel. “It looked like exhibition tennis. We’ve seen that way too many times with him.”
“With Gael, it’s so difficult to watch, because you know his upside ceiling could be so big, but he just goes away and doesn’t even try,” Austin said.
Despite his apparent indifference, Monfils actually had a set point in the second before succumbing to the big-serving Pole.
Monfils’ 10th-seeded compatriot Gilles Simon was also sent packing after losing 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3 to Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who blasted 35 aces and outlasted the Frenchman in a long match that was extended by a rain delay.
In later action, 13th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium eliminated qualifier Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted more than two hours.
Thanasi Kokkinakis won a three-set battle against Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 as his tennis did the talking after his name made controversial headlines last week.
Fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios taunted opponent Stan Wawrinka in a Rogers Cup match in Montreal that Kokkinakis had slept with the Swiss player’s girlfriend, drawing a fine and the ire of the tennis world.
Kokkinakis, who himself had a verbal spat with the US’ Ryan Harrison in qualifying for this event, was critical of his compatriot’s comment.
Other winners on Monday included 13th seed David Goffin, along with the US’ Mardy Fish and Jack Sock.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who had a first-round bye, is to face Frenchman Benoit Paire in the second round, while Fish takes on Rogers Cup champion Andy Murray.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also received first-round byes.
In women’s singles, Venus Williams held off young challenger Zarina Diyas 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to reach the second round.
Diyas, a rising 21-year-old from Kazakhstan, fell behind in both sets, but refused to back down.
Veteran Williams managed to win the opening set tiebreaker and hit 32 winners in the match, sending a brief reminder of her old form.
A seven-time Grand Slam champion, Williams has long fallen into the background behind younger sister Serena, who is attempting a Calendar Year Grand Slam and to win her 22nd major title at the US Open in a couple of weeks.
“Preparations are underway [for the US Open], but it still doesn’t feel that close,” Venus told reporters. “My opponent played so well today. She was so determined out there.”
Venus is now to face ninth-ranked Ana Ivanovic, seeded sixth in the tournament, in the second round.
The tournament’s opening day featured a couple of upsets, as ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain went down to Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 7-6. Timea Bacsinszky, the 12th seed, also fell to Madison Keys 6-4, 6-3.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic both advanced.
Meanwhile, in women’s doubles, Taiwanese duo Chuang Chia-jung and Hsieh Su-wei defeated Arina Rodionova of Australia and Britain’s Heather Watson 6-2, 6-1.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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