Paris Flashback: Roger Federer wastes five match points vs. Gael Monfils

Following the 2010 Wimbledon quarter-final loss against Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer was among the players to beat in the rest of the season. The Swiss lost the final in Toronto before conquering Cincinnati, playing well at the US Open and experiencing that heartbreaking semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray halted Roger in the Shanghai semi-final, and the Swiss embraced his beloved indoor streak with titles in Stockholm and Basel. With momentum on his side, Roger entered the Paris Masters as the top favorite, leading the field at one of the fastest indoor hard tournaments in the previous 15 years! The Swiss toppled Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek and Jurgen Melzer to advance into the semi-final, looking good to chase the missing title in his collection. On November 13, 2010, Gael Monfils defeated Roger Federer 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in a thrilling contest that lasted two hours and 41 minutes.

The Frenchman fended off five match points and reached the second straight final in Paris! It was Gael’s first victory over Roger in six encounters, giving his best to outplay a great rival and give the home crowd something to cheer about. Federer won four points more and created seven break chances, converting only one and missing the opportunity to set the title clash against Robin Soderling. The Swiss had almost 50 winners and 40 unforced errors, staying aggressive but failing to take the last strike and cross the finish line before the Frenchman, who refused to surrender. Roger had the advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, and Gael erased that deficit in the more demanding exchanges as they pushed each other back and forth for the entire clash.

Roger Federer wasted five match points against Gael Monfils in Paris 2010.

The opening game lasted nine minutes, and Roger repelled three break chances to avoid an early setback. Both players served well before the tie break. Federer moved 5-3 up before losing the next point on serve and playing a loose drop shot at 5-5 to offer a set point to Monfils. Roger saved it and earned his set point. The home favorite denied them with powerful serves and grabbed the breaker 9-7 following Federer’s forehand mistake. Gael saved a break point in the second set’s third game with a booming serve, and the returners had no chances until the tie break, a must-win one for Federer. It was all about the Swiss, and he won it 7-1 to grab momentum ahead of the decider.

The match’s first break came in game two when Gael netted a forehand and allowed Roger to open a 3-0 gap with a service winner. Firing from all cylinders in those moments, Federer closed the fifth game at love to build a 4-1 advantage and move closer to the finish line. Suddenly, he missed a ball that would have pushed him 5-2 up and got broken in that seventh game to bring Monfils back into contention. Serving at 5-6, Gael faced the ultimate challenge and fended off five match points (Federer should have converted the first) to bring the game home and set the deciding tie break. A forehand down the line winner opened a 4-2 gap for Monfils, and he earned two match points after Federer’s wild forehand at 5-4. The Frenchman seized the first with a service winner and started a massive celebration in front of the partisan crowd that carried him into the second straight Paris Masters final.