Monfils soars into first quarter

Gael Monfils (AFP)
Gael Monfils (AFP)

Melbourne - Flying Frenchman Gael Monfils risked injury as he hurtled through to his first Australian Open quarter-final with a four-set win over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov on Monday.

The 23rd-seed won 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in two hours, 37 minutes and will face either big-serving Milos Raonic or former winner Stan Wawrinka in the last eight on Wednesday.

Monfils, 29, reached his first quarter-final in his 11th Australian Open campaign.

The athletic Monfils thrilled the crowd on the Margaret Court Arena with his all-action game and he risked injury by flying through the air after being wrong-footed to retrieve a volley, to enthusiastic applause.

Monfils said of his flying dive onto the hardcourt: "It hurts, but it's something that snaps in my mind and I just go for it.

"I am just a competitor and I want win every point and sometimes I feel I can have it, so I just fly."

Monfils needed a medical timeout early in the match to seek treatment for the fingers on his right hand from his airborne volley.

"I hope it's not broken, it's a bit painful but when you play in front of a big crowd you want to play good."

Monfils broke Kuznetsov's service three times and lost his own serve twice in winning through to his overall seventh Grand Slam quarter-final.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the most Grand Slam quarter-final appearances by a Frenchman with 12 in the Open Era.

"It's great. I'm very happy to get through to the quarters and I'm already focused on my quarter-final," Monfils said.

"I have had a great week, and I hope to have a wonderful second week."

Monfils won 81 percent of his first serves and 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.

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