Flying Frenchman Gael Monfils risked injury as he hurtled through to his first Australian Open quarter-final with a four-set win over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov on Monday. The 23rd-seed won 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in two hours, 37 minutes and will face either big-serving Milos Raonic or former winner Stan Wawrinka in the last eight on Wednesday.
Monfils, 29, reached his first quarter-final in his 11th Australian Open campaign. The athletic Monfils thrilled the crowd on the Margaret Court Arena with his all-action game and he risked injury by flying through the air after being wrong-footed to retrieve a volley, to enthusiastic applause.
Monfils said of his flying dive onto the hardcourt: "It hurts, but it's something that snaps in my mind and I just go for it. I am just a competitor and I want win every point and sometimes I feel I can have it, so I just fly."
Monfils needed a medical timeout early in the match to seek treatment for the fingers on his right hand from his airborne volley.
"I hope it's not broken, it's a bit painful but when you play in front of a big crowd you want to play good."
Monfils broke Kuznetsov's service three times and lost his own serve twice in winning through to his overall seventh Grand Slam quarter-final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the most Grand Slam quarter-final appearances by a Frenchman with 12 in the Open Era.
"It's great. I'm very happy to get through to the quarters and I'm already focused on my quarter-final," Monfils said. "I have had a great week, and I hope to have a wonderful second week."
Monfils won 81 percent of his first serves and said it was important factor against Kuznetsov.
"I focused on my serve, I needed to be because he was striking the ball very good and the... free points (aces) helped me a lot to get through," he said.
Monfils compares himself to football players
Gael Monfils was left battered and bruised after performing an outrageous diving shot at the Australian Open, although the 23rd seed has no plans to change his flamboyant style. Fans are always in for a treat when Monfils is in action and it was no different as the Frenchman defeated Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to reach the quarter-finals on Monday.
During the four-set win, Monfils looked more suited to the football pitch as a goalkeeper after he flung himself to his right in an acrobatic attempt to make a return. Monfils required treatment on his hand shortly afterwards but the 29-year-old's approach on court will remain.
"It's very painful. I cannot even grip anything right now," Monfils told reporters. "I have a deep cut. That's nothing. But I have a bruise. I'm lucky to not have fracture. During the point, I feel that I can have it. So I just do it because I think I have the ability to do it. But I'm not a rock."
Asked if he had been coached to perform shots like that, Monfils, who will meet Milos Raonic in the last eight, added: "It's like instinct. Like some soccer player, I don't know how to say it in English, but they jump and they do it. It's just natural. I always say, people think I will throw myself to the floor for nothing. I do it because I know I can do it. That's the only thing. "People need to understand that if I dive, it's because I know I can dive. That's it."
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