PARIS A broken contact lens ruined Gael Monfils dream of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Roland Garros crown for 25 years on Friday.
The 21-year-old, playing in his first grand slam semi-final, had promised to give it his all when he faced world number one Roger Federer but soon discovered he had blurred vision.
"This morning I already had a pain in my eye and I think I broke my contact lens," said Monfils following his 6-2 5-7 6-3 7-5 defeat by the Swiss.
"I couldn't see well, so I tried to put some eye drops in at the beginning of the match. Then it didn't work, so I asked the doctor to come on the court. That didn't work.
"I think part of my contact lens stayed, remained in my eye. I managed to take the other part out, but there was one part left."
Monfils got off to the worst possible start on Friday and before he had even had a chance to blink, he was 2-0 down.
Frustrated, he called for a medical time out and the trainer put some eyedrops into his sore left eye.
Although he managed to win the second set against the top seed, he felt the damage had already been done.
"I am not trying to find any excuses, but it didn't help," said the 59th-ranked Monfils. "Each time I was trying to serve it was annoying me."
After winning five matches on clay for only the second time in his career over the past fortnight, he felt the eye irritation was a real setback, especially since he managed to rattle Federer in spurts during the three-hour contest.
"I'm frustrated. It was very close," he said.
"Well, mentally speaking I was there. I was very motivated. I didn't lose 6-2 6-2 6-2 so it was very close."
Monfils certainly had his chances to stretch Federer further. He earned 13 break points but ended up converting only three.
However, he admitted he was completely bamboozled during most of those openings by the way Federer chose to execute an array of dropshots.
"I was pretty stupid on one of the breakpoints. Then there was another one when he came to the net, I tried a passing shot, and he caught it and he played a dropshot. That was difficult for me.
"But those are not dropshots. I don't know what they are, but these are not dropshots.
"His balls were not bouncing up at all. They had a spin effect. I'll ask him to explain to me, because I don't know what these were."
Whatever they were, they helped Federer to extend his record against Monfils to 4-0.
(Editing by John Mehaffey)