Last Updated on September 27, 2022
The fastest man on ATP tour, known for his nickname “Sliderman” due to his unusual sliding technique especially on clay surfaces, player who has reached at least one ATP Tour singles final every year since 2005, is the Frenchman, Gael Monfils.
Gael Sebastien Monfils was born on 1st September 1986 in Paris, France, into a family of mixed origins. His father Rufin is from the Caribbean Island Guadeloupe and is a former pro football player and later France telecom employee and his mother Sylvette is from Martinique and worked as a nurse. He has a younger brother, Daryl, who also plays tennis. Gael since kid showed talent for sport, while in school he won French U-13 and U-14 100m track Championships, and his coach said that if he proceeded to train, he could have made the Olympic Games 100m final. But his love for tennis prevailed and it proved to be the right decision. He was introduced to tennis by his father, who taught him the basics of the game. During his junior career in same year, he won Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and finished season 2004 as Junior World No.1. His role model while growing up was Arthur Ashe. Gael is married to WTA tennis player Elina Svitolina, with who in May this year announced that they were expecting their first child together.
Who Is Gael Monfils’s Current Coach?
Gael started the new season of 2021 with two new coaches, Gunter Bresnik and Richard Ruckelshausen. Their collaboration is ongoing.
Gunter Bresnik was born on 21st April 1961 in Vienna, Austria. He started playing tennis at age of 16 and his career as a coach as he recalls “happened by accident while studying medicine.” In his coaching career since mid-1980s he coached 27 top 100 tennis players such as Henri Leconte, Boris Becker, Patrick McEnroe, Ernests Goulbis. For eighteen years he was coach of Dominic Thiem, since he was eight years old boy. Gunter also was the captain of the Austrian Davis Cup team and director of the Austrian Tennis Association. He runs a tennis academy in the Sud Stadt area near Vienna.
Richard Ruckelshausen was born on 19th June 1987 in Austria. He didn’t have significant playing career, stopped playing in 2013 and his best ranking was World No.456. He created his structure “Ruckelshausen International Sports Education” in 2016 and was coach of clubs in Salzburg and Hamburg. In 2020 Richard become an ATP and WTA coach, so Gael Monfils is the first major player that he is coaching.
The first year under their mentorship, Monfils continued struggles and loss of form during previous Covid season. At 2021 Cincinnati Open he reached his 500th win in his career on the ATP and later at Sofia Open he made his first ATP final in 18 months. Gael started season 2022 by winning his eleventh ATP title in career at Adelaide International 1. Currently, due to a foot injury at Montreal Open, he is forced to undergo a new period of treatment before being able to resume tournaments.
Former Gael Monfils’s coaches
Gael has had a long history of several different coaches. He turned pro in 2004, and since September that year he started working with countryman Thierry Champion.
Thierry Champion was born on 31st August 1966 in Bagnols-sur-Ceze, France. As a player he turned pro in 1989, during his career won two Challengers and reached highest ranking of World No.44. His career was riddled with injuries, so he retired in 2004. After retirement he started coaching at Lagardere Paris Racing where he stayed for 4 years. Thierry coached players like Nicolas Escude, Paul-Henri Mathieu, and Richard Gascuet. Now he is a tennis consultant for beIN SPORTS France where he works for past eight years.
Under Thierry’s mentorship, Gael made his ATP debut and first ever ATP win, at 2004 Open de Moselle. Later that year he qualified for Paris Masters, his first Masters 1000 tournament and finished the season ranked 239, a remarkable jump from his ranking of 925 at the start of the year. The next year was even more successful than the previous one. In the first six months he won Challenger titles in Besancon and Tunis, after what he won his first ATP title at Sopot Open. He reached two more finals that year and entered in the top 50 players.
During season 2006 Monfils played only one final in Doha, reached fourth round at French Open and reached a then career high of No.23. In September that year he parted ways with Thierry.
From May 2007 until June 2008, he was coached by Tarik Benhabiles.
Tarik Benhabiles was born on 5th February 1965 in Algiers, Algeria and is former Algerian-French tennis player. As player he captured junior Roland Garros singles title, played for the French Davis Cup team, and reached two ATP finals. His highest ATP ranking was World No.22. After retirement Tarik started coaching and was working with Nicolas Escude, Richard Gasquet, Benjamin Becker, Ivo Karlovic, and Tatiana Golovin. Best results he had with Andy Roddick, taking him into the Top 10 in the World. He is also the founder of the Tarik Benhabiles Tennis Academy in Florida that helps create and train future tennis stars.
While coaching Monfils, he was injured for half year and won only one tournament at 2008 Marrakech Open.
“Gael has been working with different people and structures for four years. I am only taking over, continuing the work that has already been done and trying to add a bit of my personal touch.” said Tarik at the beginning of their time together.
Since July 2008, for three years, Gael collaborated with Roger Rasheed.
Roger Rasheed, Australian of Lebanese descent, was born 10th March 1969 in Adelaide, Australia. He is former Australian Rules football player, tennis player, coach, and commentator. As tennis player was the youngest ever to qualify for an Australian Open in 1985 at 16 years of age. He won four titles in the ATP Challenger Series and reached 192 in ATP singles rankings.
As tennis coach he is notable as Lleyton Hewitt’s coach, who under Rasheed’s mentorship became the first Australian in seventeen years to reach the Australian Open final and win the 2006 Queen’s Club Championships. He also coached Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov.
Until the end of the first season coaching Monfils, Rasheed lead him to another ATP final at Vienna Open. Next season Gael won Open de Moselle in Metz, reached Acapulco final and his first Masters final at Paris Masters, and entered into top 10 players in the World. In 2010 Gael played three finals at Stuttgart, Tokyo and Paris Masters, and won his third ATP title at Open Sud de France in Montpellier. In July 2011, Gael and Roger parted ways.
“We decided to stop our collaboration by mutual agreement. We had reached the end of a great story. I owe him a lot, I learned a lot with him.” announced Monfils on Twitter.
Monfils parted ways with Rasheed and announced that his fitness coach, Patrick Chamagne would take the reins as his new full-time coach.
“There is only one Nadal, but I think Gael has got a greater potential than Rafa. We need to make him fully exploit that potential.” said Patrick at the beginning of their collaboration.
Already in October 2011, Gael won another ATP title at Stockholm Open. At the beginning of season 2012 he made to the finals at Doha and Montpellier Open, but later he suffered from knee and back injuries and ended the season earlier. Also he ended his collaboration with Patrick.
His next head coach, from the beginning of season 2015, was Jan de Witt.
Jan de Witt
Jan de Witt was born in Celle, Germany and is tennis coach since 1998. He coached players like Gilles Simon, Aslan Karatsev, Nikoloz Basilashvili Viktor Troicki and Andy Murray. While coaching Viktor in 2010, he played for the Serbian Davis Cup team that captured the title.
At the beginning of his collaboration with Monfils, Gael reached Marseille Open final, but after eight months, due to Jan wanting to dedicate himself full time to coaching Gilles Simon, their partnership came to an end.
For start of season 2016 Gael hired Mikael Tillstrom for his head coach.
Mikael Tillstrom was born on 5th March 1972 in Jonkoping, Sweden. He turned pro tennis player in 1991 and retired in 2000. He was known for playing doubles where he won 8 ATP and 11 Challenger titles and reached World No.15 ranking. He is running the Good to Great Tennis Academy together with Nicklas Kulti and Magnus Norman.
At the first year of his time coaching Monfils, Gael won his maiden ATP 500 title at Washington Open. That year he also reached his best ever ranking of World No.6. Next season Gael struggled with his fitness and knee injury and managed to play only one final at Eastbourne Open. At the beginning of 2018 he won Doha Open
After two and a half years, in August 2018 they split.
Since 2019 until the end of 2021 Gael was coached by Liam Smith.
Liam Smith was born in London and has lived in USA and Australia. He is tennis coach since 2000 when he worked at the Harry Hopman Academy and at Saddlebrook. He also worked at Justin Henin Academy and is former Head Coach for Tennis Australia, guiding the development of many players including Alex De Minaur. Liam was coach of Radu Albot and Ricardas Berankis.
His work with Gael, led Monfils to won the eighth ATP Tour singles title of his career at the 2019 Rotterdam Open. Next year, before season lockdown due to Covid-19, Gael won Montpellier Open and defended the title from Rotterdam, after which he parted ways with Liam.
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Gael Monfils’ achievements with different coaches
We have collected in the table the data about the trophies won by Gael Monfils under the guidance of various coaches.
|Years of Completion
|2021 – ongoing
|2022 Adelaide International 1
|2021 – ongoing
|2022 Adelaide International 1
|2004 – 2006
|2005 Besancon Open Challenger 2005 Tunis Open Challenger 2005 Sopot Open
|2007 – 2008
|2008 Marrakech Open Challenger
|2008 – 2011
|2009 Open de Moselle 2010 Open Sud de France
|2011 – 2013
|2011 Stockholm Open
|Jan de Witt
|2015 – 2015
|2016 – 2018
|2016 Washington Open 2018 Doha Open
|2019 – 2020
|2019 Rotterdam 2020 Open Sud de France 2020 Rotterdam