After notching a first-round win in Shanghai last month, Arthur Fils paused to sign the TV camera near the umpire’s chair, as is customary at many ATP Tour events. The #NextGenATP star’s message, ‘Moving Like La Monf’, was as much for his good friend and fellow Frenchman, Gael Monfils, as it was for fans watching at home.
“[It referred to] everything,” Fils told ATPTour.com last week when asked exactly what he had meant by his camera salute to Monfils. “I mean, on the court I’m trying to move like him. He is 37 years old, and he is moving like a god. And of course, [off court] he’s a smooth guy, walking nicely and everything, so I’m doing it like him.”
Fils’ message caught the attention of the man himself.
“It was very nice for me, to be honest,” said Monfils, who earlier this month lifted his 12th ATP Tour title in Stockholm. “I was flattered.”
It’s all in the name 🇫🇷
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 5, 2023
Fils’ tribute in Shanghai came just weeks after both he and Monfils had represented Team Europe at the Laver Cup. Despite already being good friends, both players enjoyed the opportunity to spend an extended period together at this year’s edition of the annual teams’ event, held in Vancouver.
“It was unbelievable, because he’s like a big brother to me,” said Fils. “To be with him, to be close with him, to talk with him during all five days was very nice. I’m really happy about his title [in Stockholm], because he played unbelievable, and I’m really happy to watch him winning again. I think he will be back very soon with a top ranking.”
Monfils reflected: “I got to spend more time with him, because he’s brand new to the Tour and Vancouver was really the first time we could spend a lot of time together. That was great to spend time with [Arthur] the person, and with all the players.”
Fils and Monfils (middle) with Hubert Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev at the Laver Cup. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty for Laver Cup.
While the age gap between the two might naturally make Monfils something of a ‘mentor’ for Fils, the former World No. 6 says that his young countryman possesses many of the off-court characteristics he has always valued highly.
“With some players, we knew each other from a young age, so we grew up together,” said Monfils. “With [Arthur], we have a massive gap. He’s the age of my little sister, so I couldn’t have this chance to…