World no. 14 and ATP veteran Gael "Sliderman" Monfils has never won a major tournament. His best performance at one came eight years ago, when he reached the French Open semi-finals.
But oh boy, does the flying Frenchman know how to entertain! A few days ago, at the 2016 Italian Open in Rome, he vaulted over his partner, Australia's Daria Gavrilova, to hit a stunning smash in a mixed doubles practice session (video above).
Monfils or "La Monf" as he is popularly called by fans, has always been a stellar sportsman. Way back in 2006, when he was 19, he took part in a paddle tennis championship in Las Vegas on a whim and won the tournament on his first attempt against Scott Freedman - the "Roger Federer of paddle tennis" – after being forced to play qualifiers.
In the video below, he surprises Lukas Rosol in a Davis Cup tie by leaping into the air to hit a between-the-legs tweener.
La Monf is not just a human springboard, he can also win points by using guile and being slightly cheeky while doing it. In a match against Alexandr Dolgopolov at the 2015 Monte Carlo Masters, "Sliderman" executes a poor drop shot – a shot that in most cases would be an easy put away at the net. Monfils's demeanour suggests as much as he pretends to walk back to the baseline for the next shot, but he is only pretending and immediately rushes to his right to hit Dolgopolov's return for a winner.
Still, this entertaining player has often received criticism for not being consistent. He was World Junior No.1 and won three majors on the junior tour in 2004, but the early potential has not been converted to ATP success. Monfils has won only five career titles since he turned pro in 2004.
His athletic style of play has led to frequent injuries. And then there's the whole business of playing to the gallery instead of closing down the opponent. In a classic case of the 2008 French semi-finalist choosing to perform for the crowd over actually fighting to win the point, here is a rally from his match against Tommy Haas at the 2013 Halle Open.
But the man is fun to watch nonetheless, especially in the world of men's tennis, which is populated by the straight-talking, extremely professional "Big Four". Monfils has quietly carved out a position for himself as the guy who cares more about having a good time and enjoying himself than pursuing title after title with machinelike precision.
In that sense, he is a lot like compatriot Fabrice Santoro, nicknamed "The Magician" by Pete Sampras, for the ease with which he used his quirky repertoire of trick shots. One man who wasn't a fun of Santoro's style – who has lost more matches (444) than any other player on the men's tour – was the hard hitting two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin, who ended his career with a 2-7 head-to-head against him. Here's Santoro.
And here's a compilation of some of the greatest winners to have come from Monfils's racquet.