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Gael Monfils thrives in Queens ahead of U.S. Open quarterfinals

Gael Monfils now has reached the quarterfinals of

Gael Monfils now has reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open four times. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

For the first time in three years, Gaël Monfils has a chance to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals with a victory against Matteo Berrettini of Italy on Wednesday.

“I play great tennis here, very great tennis,” said 13th-seeded Monfils, who turned 33 on Sunday, of the Flushing Meadows-based major. “Always say that I love the atmosphere. I love the energy. The energy is very important. Every stadium I go, definitely those stadiums here in New York are [among] the best for my game and for my personality. I feel very comfortable, so I think that why I play always great tennis here.”

Monfils, the 6-foot-4 Frenchman, defeated Pablo Andújar of Spain in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, on Monday. No. 24 seed Berrettini, standing at 6-foot-5, advanced to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal by defeating Russia's Andrey Rublev, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

“Big serve first,” Monfils said of Berrettini. “I think he [has] got a big serve, crush the forehand. He's a great athlete. Great mover for his height. Tough one, someone [who] hits big from the back. Use his serve and his forehand. It is going to be an interesting one, a tough one.”

Monfils, who first competed in all four major events back in 2005, historically has performed well in Queens. Of his nine berths in Grand Slam quarterfinals, four of them were at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. With a win Wednesday, he'll reach the semifinal round for the third time in his career — after the 2008 French Open and 2016 U.S. Open.

Monfils said he does get excited to play in New York City each year, where he hasn't missed a tournament since 2012.

“You practice for that,” Monfils said. “You always dream to play in the Slam. … That's why I think it bring the best also of me."

The winner of Monfils-Berrettini will face either No. 2 seed and three-time U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or No. 20 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who also face each other Wednesday, in Friday's men's singles semifinals.

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