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Monfils still believes he can win a grand slam

Gael Monfils of France hits a return to Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan during their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in M
Gael Monfils of France hits a return to Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan during their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in M

By Simon Cambers

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A rejuvenated, fit-again Gael Monfils believes he is capable of winning a grand slam, if his body holds up.

The Frenchman missed several months of 2012 with a knee injury and former French player Henri Leconte suggested he might even give up the sport.

But the former world number seven, who reached the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, said he was 100 percent fit and believes he is more capable than ever.

"I don't know how far I can go," Monfils told Reuters. "It will depend how I will manage my body.

"Honestly, I keep believing in myself that I can win a slam. I am definitely sure I can win one. It's just a matter of putting the pieces in the puzzle.

"I have a feeling I am more mature and maybe ready to do more stuff than before. Hopefully it's a matter of time and hopefully it's going to be soon."

Yannick Noah is the last Frenchman to win a grand slam singles title, at the French Open in 1983, and Monfils said Roland Garros might be his best chance.

"Definitely Paris. It would be amazing," he said.

"It's my dream, actually. So if it can be Paris, I'd pick Paris first. I think I can adapt myself anywhere but where Paris is different is that I have my family and I know people know how close I am with my family and my friends.

"It's a different spirit and different energy and it brings the best out of me."

On Thursday, Monfils produced a typically topsy-turvy performance as he battled past Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 7-6 4-6 0-6 6-1 8-6 to reach round three.

Monfils hit four wild double faults on successive match points before finally clinching victory when Lu put a return wide.

The 26-year-old Monfils is in Melbourne without a coach, physio or fitness trainer and admitted life on his own was tough.

"I'm looking for a new team because it's very important and I think I will need it," he said.

"I have a few ideas about who to ask but still it's hard. You have to talk to the person, pose your project and see if they like it. It's the same for them, to see if they want to be with me."

Monfils was struggling for breath midway through his win over Lu but though he will be the underdog against another Frenchman, 14th seed Gilles Simon, in round three, he has faith in his ability.

"I still have big goals but I am keeping a low profile because I know it's tough," he said.

"To be where I was I know it has to be a lot of work. I am just starting to work now so hopefully I will come back."

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

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