World No. 20, and number two seed, Gael Monfils of France, will take on Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, ranked 45th, in the second round of the 2021 Sofia Open on Thursday, September 30. Get the live streaming options of this Gael Monfils v Ilya Ivashka match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Gael Monfils v Ilya Ivashka Head to Head
The pair have played each other twice before, each man with a win apiece.
Monfils won their meeting at the Canadian Masters in 2019, but it was Ivashka who triumphed when the pair were drawn against each other at the Tokyo Olympics two months ago.
Monfils, Defender of French Tennis
Last week Monfils was forced to defend the honour of French tennis after he was the only local to reach the semi-finals of their home event, the Moselle Open, arguing that there was too much scrutiny by the media and negativity by the media.
As the highest ranked French player, even at 35, he knows what it is to be in the spotlight, especially since he began his relationship with his now wife Elina Svitolina.
Nor has he been immune from criticism himself from the French media after an indifferent start to the season and early defeats at the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics.
But he has hit back with a strong of solid performances, reaching the quarter-finals in Toronto, and the third round in both Cincinnati and the US Open both competing in France last week.
He was given a bye in the first round.
Ivashka, One of the Players of 2021
If prizes were handed out for the most improved man on tour, Ivashka would surely be in contention after enjoying an excellent season which has seen him accelerate up the rankings.
That has seen him reach the quarter-finals in Andalucía and Eastbourne and sandwiched between those events, he was a semi-finalist in Munich, having come through the qualifying competition first.
Then at Wimbledon he reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
He then got to the third round of the Olympics, beating Monfils in the first round, and then did the same in Washington. The best though was yet to come from his perspective as he won his maiden ATP title at the Winston-Salem Open, thrashing Mikael Ymer in the final.
He followed that up with a third round appearance at the French Open and seemed on course for another title last week in Nur-Sultan, only to fall at the semi-fianl stage to the Australian James Duckworth.
The Belarussian had a comfortable straight sets win over the Spaniard Pablo Andujar-Alba in the first round in Sofia.
Monfils v Ivashka Prediction and Tip
This match could go either way, but despite his seeding, Monfils may be the slight underdog against a man who has made such improvements in his game this season, that few relish the prospect of being drawn against him in a tournament.