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Monfils Cruises to Quarter Finals at Australian Open

ATP World Tour

Gael Monfils left fans on Margaret Court Arena with their jaws on the floor Monday at the Australian Open, flying into the quarter-finals behind his hallmark exuberant display.

The 23rd-seeded Frenchman defeated Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in two hours and 37 minutes, firing 44 winners and 14 aces. He converted three of seven break chances and covered 2131.8 metres in total, including a few through the air in the second set after laying out for a stunning full-extension dive.

Monfils will make his first quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open in his 11th trip down under. It is the second-most attempts before reaching the last eight in Melbourne for the first time, with countryman Fabrice Santoro having broken through after 14 tries.

"It was tough," Monfils said. "I think I knew he would come and step in, try to play very fast. That's what he did. I was a bit nervous so I could not hit through him for a while. Then suddenly I think I served a bit better and I put more pressure. I grabbed the first set.

"I felt unlucky in the second. I lost the momentum because at this period I thought I had him. It was a bit tough for me to grip my racquet (after the dive). Then it was a bit tougher to play.

"He had a good second set. Then I think I served pretty well, tried to focus on my first shot after the serve. Until the end, I was fighting. I think he gave me a good fight, so I was happy to come through." 

After splitting the first and second sets, Monfils grabbed the upper hand in the sixth game of the third, breaking to love for 4-2. He would take the set three games later. Neither player managed a break in the fourth and the Frenchman would slam the door in the eventual tie-break, ripping a cross-court backhand pass for a 4-0 lead. He converted on his first match point to seal the win.

The 29 year old enters his seventh Grand Slam quarter-final overall, having previously advanced as far on four occasions in Roland Garros and twice at the US Open. Monfils extends his FedEx ATP Head2Head edge over Kuznetsov to 3-0 and will face 13th seed Milos Raonic next.

Kuznetsov, meanwhile, was contesting his first Grand Slam fourth round. He was bidding to become the first Russian quarter-finalist at the Australian Open since Nikolay Davydenko in 2010.