MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Two days after making an emotional exit from the Australian Open, Frenchman Gael Monfils vowed to bounce back from a series of poor results in the past year, saying tennis was his biggest passion and it was time to get "back to work".
The former world number six last tasted victory at the end of February 2020 and Monday's first round defeat at Melbourne Park in five sets to Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori was the sixth straight loss for the 34-year-old.
Holding back tears during his post-match press conference, 11th-ranked Monfils said he felt trapped in a "nightmare" as he continued his battle to emerge from a form slump.
The viral video of an emotional Monfils received an outpouring of support on social media and he said he was "amazed" by the messages of appreciation from everyone, including his girlfriend and world number five Elina Svitolina.
"As you can imagine this is not an easy period but I have every confidence that I will bounce back in the near future," Monfils said on Twitter.
"Emotions can be overwhelming after a close defeat, especially when you have put long hours to get there and your expectations are high.
"When I put things in perspective, I will always reach the same conclusion: tennis is my biggest passion and I am extremely fortunate to be able to live from it. Thank you all again and now back to work."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Nick Macfie)