Melbourne - Gael Monfils said he was lucky
not to break any bones after a trademark acrobatic dive left him with a deep
cut and bruises on the way to his first Australian Open quarter-final Monday.
The athletic Frenchman went airborne for an
unsuccessful baseline volley during his four-set battle with Russia's Andrey
Kuznetsov, to excited applause from the crowd.
Afterwards Monfils was left nursing a deep
cut on his finger and bruising that left him unable even to hold a racquet -
but he insisted he had no regrets about going for broke.
The 29-year-old won 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6
(7/4) in two hours, 37 minutes to reach the last eight for the first time in 11
attempts, with either Milos Raonic or 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka up next.
"It's very painful. I cannot even grip
anything right now. I have a deep cut. That's nothing. But I have a bruise. I'm
lucky to do not have fracture," Monfils told reporters.
"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 you
know, I'm not a rock."
Asked whether he ever regrets his signature
dives around the court, Monfils replied: "No, never."
"It's like instinct," he added.
"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 it's like
why I will throw myself to the floor for nothing. I do it because I know I can
do it. That the only thing. People need to understand that if I dive, it's
because I know I can dive."
The 23rd seed broke Kuznetsov's service
three times and lost his own serve twice in reaching his overall seventh Grand
Monfils won 81 percent of his first serves
and he 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.
He added: "It's great. I'm very happy
to get through to the quarters and I'm already focused on my quarter-final. I
have had a great week, and I hope to have a wonderful second week."