Gael Monfils (284365)
Credit: Margot Jordan photo

Novak Djokovic, the US Open’s defending champion was forced to retire from his Open match on Monday night. Roger Federer, the men’s 3-seed was defeated on Tuesday night. Naomi Osaka, the women’s 2018 singles champion is also out, also exiting on Monday. Serena Williams, who lost to Osaka in last year’s finals, looks like she’s headed for another Slam title match, as does top seeded Rafael Nadal, another recognizable name, the 2017 men’s singles Open champ, three times overall.

In addition to Williams and Osaka, there have been several other Black players from here and abroad to qualify for this year’s US Open. Next to Williams, Frenchman Gael Monfils has advanced the farthest.

From France, Monfils celebrated his 33rd birthday this week by decisively defeating Pablo Andujar from Spain 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. It was his fourth Open match, and one of his easiest, advancing to the Quarterfinals, the furthest round that he has ever reached here.

His chances of advancing further, the semi-finals on Friday, maybe the championship on Sunday improved greatly with two of the Open’s major obstacles out of the way, Djokovic and Federer, but he was eliminated in Wednesday’s men’s Quarterfinals, losing a grueling, 3 hour 57 minute, hard fought, five set match against Matteo Berretini from Italy. The longest of the five 2019 Open matches that Monfils had played.

“I’m tired to be honest with you. It was tough, more mentally.”

According to Monfils, he lost his rhythm. Maybe there was too much birthday celebration.

“The rhythm was not there.” He also attributed the loss on his poor serves. He had five double-faults in the fifth set.

Like Williams with the women, Monfils’ run exceeded all of the other Black, men players who’ve competed in this season’s Open. Frances Tiafoe, 21, was the youngest. From Hyattsville, Maryland, now residing in Orlando, Florida, he was eliminated in Round 2.

Christopher Eubanks, 23, from Atlanta. Georgia, lost in the first round, Day 1, and veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 34, from France, now living in Switzerland, exited on Day 2 of the first round in a very close match.