Monfils to struggle with fewer fans at French Open

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP 500 - Hamburg European Open - Am Rothenbaum, Hamburg, Germany - September 22, 2020 France's Gael Monfils in action during his first round match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann REUTERS/Cathrin Mueller

PARIS (Reuters) - If one player is going to miss massive crowds at the French Open, it is Gael Monfils, a former Roland Garros semi-finalist who will struggle to hit his stride in an almost-empty stadium.

Monfils, a player with a unique ability to create an electrifying atmosphere, hinted he might struggle to find motivation after the number of fans allowed in the grounds was brought down to 1,000 a day amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is not the tournament I played before, it is not the tournament I have been dreaming of in my favourite place,” said the eighth seed, who lost in the first round on clay in the Rome Masters and the Hamburg tournament.

“About the spectators, it’s been sad news that the numbers went to the opposite way that we want, it went down. So pretty much since I’m back on the tour, it was not much spectators, zero in Rome and a little bit in Hamburg.

“I guess we’re going to have to do with what we have.”

Players will be confined in two different hotels and will be allowed out just for their matches at Roland Garros and to train at the neighbouring Jean Bouin stadium, but Monfils does not care.

“I’m ok to stay in my room, I’m not one to go out much in the cities where I play my tournaments,” the Frenchman said.

Monfils starts his campaign against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, a player he has never faced before.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge