Gael Monfils saw his latest Ultimate Tennis Showdown campaign come to an unceremonious end. The Frenchman was disqualified from the Oslo leg of the exhibition event after accidentally injuring the tournament supervisor.
Drawn in Group B of UTS Oslo, Monfils lost meekly in his first match against Alex de Minaur. Hours later, he walked on court to face compatriot Benoit Paire in his second round-robin match. However, within minutes, he walked back into the tunnel as his disqualification was announced by the stadium announcer.
Fans were left bewildered to see the former World No.6 leave the court with no explanation or reason. Fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille filled in as a replacement but questions about Monfil’s elimination remained.
The UTS later clarified that Gael Monfils had accidentally injured tournament supervisor Stephane Apostolou in the locker room before his match against Paire. The statement said that the two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist engaged in a ‘playful exchange’ with the official which went awry. The tournament’s post further stated that Monfils had no ill intent and the injury was minor. They clarified he is always welcome to participate in the next leg of the UTS.
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/uts_tour_/status/1756290344902066566?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
The UTS, conceived by Patrick Mouratoglou, is an exhibition championship that does not follow the traditional rules of tennis. Instead of games and sets, matches are played in four timed quarters. Other elements like bonus cards that act as power-ups, mid-match player interviews, no second serves, and more make the UTS a unique exhibition with very laidback rules. Hence, Monfils getting disqualified from such an event, which markets itself on having relaxed rules and a fun atmosphere, raised eyebrows amongst the tennis fraternity.
Gael Monfils releases statement on UTS disqualification
Gael Monfils also put out a post on X (formerly Twitter) to further clear the air. He mentioned UTS’s statement, reiterating there was no malice or abuse. He said there was no bad blood between him and Stephane Apostolou, who understood he meant no harm. Monfils called the incident an ‘accident’, adding it was not a major issue.
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/Gael_Monfils/status/1756367003420364864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown will have three more events in 2024, including a Grand Final which was held in London last year. There has been no confirmation whether Monfils will return for these tournaments. For now, the Frenchman’s next assignment is the 2024 Rotterdam Open, where he faces Denis Shapovalov in the first round.