If Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov knew La Poune, they would probably have cited it this week in a press conference. The two, who will compete on Saturday in the third round, consider New York virtually like a second home. And both make the crowds run. of the showman as they say in Paris.
"I feel a lot of love and I love the atmosphere and the city of New York," says Monfils. There is noise and people are behind me. They like the game more flashy and that's the way I play. "
Monfils went off in the second round of the match against Romania's Marius Copil. The French man made a smash after turning 360 degrees in the air, like a basketball player in the NBA dunks contest.
The gesture, made instinctively, did not seem completely assumed.
"I think it deserves a score of 8 out of 10," explained the 13th world racket. I'm happy to have done and I'm happy, but we are so robotic, we, the tennis players, we hold back. In training, this same smash, it is mythical. "
Monfils has never hidden his love of basketball and the NBA. He would like tennis to be inspired by it.
"There, I see a 360 and it never happens, but basketball when they have the opportunity, it dunke, it goes up and it becomes almost banal. When I have the opportunity, I want to have fun. When I have the right ball, I go there. "
Denis Shapovalov may prefer basketball hockey, but he shares the sense of the spectacle of his French rival.
The two players in spectacular style promise to impress the public New York, Saturday night, on the Louis Armstrong court, a 14,000-seat compound.
"I've never faced him, but I've always admired his game and his punchy exchanges," Shapovalov said. He is an exciting and very athletic player in the field. I expect a long war. It will be a very difficult match. "
Monfils analyzes things in much the same way.
"I approach this match as if Shapovalov was a seed, admits Monfils. When we make big games and we know that the opponent likes big games, we know that it will be even harder. He has this ability to excel in these situations and he is hungry. He is young and he wants to shine. I think it's going to be a great match. "
The new Shapovalov coach could be the hidden card of the duel. Mikhail Youzhny knows Gael Monfils well since he has faced him four times during his career. The Russian won three of these duels.
"I had trouble playing it because it bothered me, admits Monfils. He is very smart. I expect it to be complicated because he will have good advice for Denis. He also has a lot of experience in Grand Slam tournaments. "
And Youzhny, like Shapovalov and Monfils, loves New York. He reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2013 and 2006.
The ingredients of a very beautiful evening are gathered.