Monfils blown off court by high winds at U.S. Open

NEW YORK Wed Sep 8, 2010 8:55pm EDT

Gael Monfils of France reaches for a return to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Gael Monfils of France reaches for a return to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gael Monfils was blown off court at the U.S. Open Wednesday as powerful gusts knocked his game off course and the Frenchman out of the tournament.

Monfils was bidding to become the second Frenchman in the Open era to reach a semi-final in New York when he met Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final.

But the number 17 seed failed to emulate Cedric Pioline's achievement at Flushing Meadows and blamed winds that dramatically changed direction and swirled through the Arthur Ashe Stadium for his exit from the tournament.

"The thing is that with the wind you can really find my weakness - for me, it's really hard to play with wind," said the Frenchman after his 7-6 6-1 6-2 defeat.

"I'm very physical and speedy. Sometimes for me it was very frustrating ... as I cannot use any skill. I can just try to push the ball and deal with it. But I think at that time the talent for play in the wind, I don't have that yet."

Djokovic handled the high winds better than Monfils, who had dominated the early exchanges but struggled with his serve and shot selection in the final two sets.

Afterwards, the 24-year-old admitted he had never known a windier contest during his six years on the men's tour.

"That windy? Never," he said. "I know when it's a little windy I get in trouble but wind like this for me is tough. I have a big swing and, as you can see, my adjustment is not that good sometimes."

Monfils was cheered on by New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry in his box during the two-hour, 24-minute contest and admitted he was disappointed not to put on a better show for his countryman.

"We've been close friends for a long time now," he said. "Now he's in New York so hopefully he enjoyed the game or maybe not after that."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)