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Monfils Gets MSG Match of His Dreams

By Marc Berman  NY POST

Flamboyant French tennis star Gael Monfils will kill two birds with one racket on March 8 — he will get to be inside Madison Square Garden for the first time in his life and receive an updated Carmelo Anthony jersey for his collection.

Monfils, the acrobatic 18th-ranked player in the world, will face Swiss sensation Stan Wawrinka in the annual Garden tennis exhibition as part of the BNP Paribas card also featuring Serena Williams/Caroline Wozniacki.

In a phone interview from a tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Monfils told The Post his second-favorite passion after tennis is the NBA and his favorite player — honestly — is Carmelo Anthony. Ten years ago, Monfils bought himself Anthony’s Nuggets jersey and got the Knicks superstar to sign it because of their shared Nike affiliation.

As part of Monfils playing at the Garden, he’s been promised by Garden officials a new Anthony Knicks jersey.

“[He’s] just been one of my favorites — like the guy, like the attitude and his spirit,’’ said Monfils, who also knows Knicks center Kevin Seraphin, who is from French Guiana, through a mutual friend.

Monfils, who lost to eventual finalist Milos Raonic in the Australian Open quarterfinals, is one of the tour’s most entertaining players — and has played some marathon matches at the US Open. He picked his four-set Ashe Stadium fourth-round thriller in 2009 against Rafael Nadal as one of his most memorable.

But Monfils said playing at the Garden also will make for a lasting memory.

“It’s like unreal, once in a lifetime to play a historic arena as a tennis player,’’ Monfils said. “I was so happy. I’ve walked by it many times. I’m good friends with Stan, it will be a good match, but it’s also a putting on a show for the sport.’’

Monfils was mum regarding the latest reports from BBC/Buzzfeed News about rampant match-fixing that various tennis federations have largely ignored.

“I really don’t have anything to say about that,’’ he said.