French Open news: Home hopes dented with Gael Monfils withdrawal

Gael Monfils argues on court

Gael Monfils announced he was pulling out of the French Open draw to address an injury problem with his right heel.

The popular Frenchman is set to undergo a minor surgery to remove a spur in his heel which is causing him pain and discomfort and inhibiting on court movement.

He also withdrew from the ongoing Lyon Open where Lucky Loser Michael Mmoh has taken his place in the main draw.

His best French Open performance to date was his run to the semi-finals all the way back in 2008.

Yannick Noah was the last male home winner in Paris, beating Mats Wilander in straight sets in 1983. The last French winner of the women’s singles was Mary Pierce who beat Conchita Martinez in 2000.

There was some hope that Monfils and another French star of his generation, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga might end the decades long wait for a home grown French Open men’s singles title-winner.

“Hi all, I regret to inform you that I am forced to withdraw from Open Parc de Lyon and the French Open next week,” the French number one tweeted.

“I have been bothered by a calcaneal spur since Monte-Carlo at my right heel which prevents me from moving properly on court.

“I have decided to undergo a small procedure this week to treat the issue before returning to competitive play.”

The 35-year-old is currently ranked 22 in the world, and is one of the great entertainers on court and a big favourite on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Monfils started the season well with a bang, winning in Adelaide and reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. But he has struggled since the switch to clay and, already bothered by the painful spur in his heel, pulled out in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

The announcement comes just a day after he and wife Elina Svitolina revealed that they are expecting a baby girl, in October.

With Monfils out the French hopes rest on something remarkable from Tsonga or one of the gaggle of other homegrown tour professionals in the draw.

France has nine players ranked in the top 100 in men’s singles but none in the top ten and only two in the top fifty in Monfils and World No 45 Ugo Humbert.