Gael Monfils reacts after loss against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their Men’s Singles Semifinal Match on Day Twelve of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2016 in the Flushing, Queens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, FLUSHING, NY, Sat. Sept. 10, 2016: Caribbean-roots, French-born tennis pro, Gael Monfils, fought hard yesterday – through hot and humid conditions and against the world’s number one in the semi-finals of the 2016 U.S. Open that he managed to reach again for only a second time. But his effort was not enough to hold off Novak Djokovic, who took the win Friday afternoon after a hard fought four sets, to advance to the finals.

But perhaps the worst point of the match was played out not on the court but on ESPN as commentator and tennis legend John McEnroe called the black player “unprofessional” at various points during the commentary.

The comment left Monfils doubly sad yesterday – having to deal not just with the loss but with the on-air criticism.

“I’m very sad to hear that,” Monfils told reporters after hearing of McEnroe’s criticism of him. “I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because at the end what I can say to John is, you know, John, I want to be the best. It’s tough, you know. And I try my best.”

Perhaps McEnroe is not accustomed to the Monfils’ wacky style and in-match antics including ordering a Coca-Cola mid-match and plenty of spell-binding, oftentimes confusing (but nonetheless entertaining) points. Still the criticism was definitely harsh for a 10th seed player who managed to make it to the semis.

Monfils, however, had the following message for McEnroe: “I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I guess I’m working, I’m learning. I think I’m failing … but I try to stand up. When he calls me unprofessional, he calls my coach unprofessional, calls my physio unprofessional, all my team, actually, unprofessional.”

He also said he was “happy to talk with” McEnroe, saying he did “different stuff” on court to try and win matches.

“I want to (say) to John that I’m more than happy to talk with him,” added the Frenchman. “You know, (he) is someone that I always care about what he is saying, but I’m just sad that he criticize me that easy.”

Monfils, 30, was born to a Guadeloupe-born father and a Martinique-born mother.



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