Gael Monfils lit up Court Philippe Chatrier like only he knows how on Tuesday night, clawing back from a fourth-set blow-out and a 4-0 deficit in the fifth set to outlast Sebastian Baez, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5, in a match that ended at 12:18 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

It was his first tour-level win since August 10th, 2022—exactly 294 days ago—when he defeated Maxime Cressy, 7-6 (10), 7-6 (6), in the second round of the Masters 1000 event in Canada.

The day after that win over Cressy, Monfils suffered a plantar fascia rupture in his right foot during his third-round match against Jack Draper, retiring from that match and being off the tour for the next seven months. He returned to action in early March of this year, but went 0-4 in his first four tour-level matches back with first-round exits at Indian Wells, Miami, Banja Luka and Lyon last week.

And he almost fell to 0-5 on Tuesday night, as not only did Baez build a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, he even had a break point for a 5-0 lead with Monfils serving at 0-4, 30-40. But the Frenchman held and eventually got it back to 4-all—then, after getting broken again in the next game, Monfils broke back again to even things up at 5-all.

Monfils then held for 6-5 and broke one last time to close out an emotional win—in which he overcame cramping, too. He sealed it with one last backhand passing shot winner on match point.

It was also Monfils' first win at a Major in 493 days, since his fourth-round win over Miomir Kecmanovic at the 2022 Australian Open—he then fell to Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals there, and had actually missed every Grand Slam since then with foot injuries, until making his major comeback in Paris on Tuesday night.

Monfils is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, reaching his first one at Roland Garros 15 years ago.

Monfils is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, reaching his first one at Roland Garros 15 years ago.


The first question in Monfils’ post-match presser asked where he would rank this win in his career, emotionally and playing-wise.

“Yeah, it’s definitely in, like, top two,” the Frenchman replied. “I had the same one almost, kind of some years ago, against [Pablo] Cuevas on Lenglen. It was unbelievable atmosphere as well.

“Of course, this one is another flavor. I’m older, and even less chances, let’s say, to win this match today. Yeah, top two, top one. It was a great atmosphere tonight, like I guess for some spectators as well. I know I have some friends, for the first time they came to Roland Garros, so I think it was a good experience for them.”

The fan favorite, who will next face the No. 6 seed, Holger Rune, said he drew energy from the crowd to cross the finish line.

“I was cramping at the end, a lot of with the nerves, and of course I’m tired, but it’s a big part of the nerves. I’m playing full adrenaline, like honestly I asked the crowd to scream, and somehow I juiced up. I know on one hand I will pay, I will pay, and I had to hold it at the end.

“But I hope to have a good night today and tomorrow and heavy recovery, and no matter what, I will be ready for him Thursday.”