Clara Burel and Hugo Gaston, the two little musketeers of Roland-Garros
This is not to insult the “old” of the French circuit, Caroline Garcia (qualified for the third round), Alizé Cornet or Fiona Ferro, in contention to join it on Thursday 1er October, that the female spotlight on court number 14, around 3 p.m. If the rain does not come to reshuffle the cards of the program, a 19-year-old Breton woman will take the gray light of the tournament.
The Federation is betting on the little Breton.
From the top of his 357e place in the WTA ranking, the young Brestoise is very far from her elders who evolve between the fortieth and fiftieth place, the usual low water level of the Blue lately. However, it is she that we will follow in priority against Kaja Juvan, a young Slovenian of her age, a good player already located around the 100e world place, level required to live properly from her profession as a professional player.
→ ANALYSIS. At Roland Garros, fifteen uncertainties
Still very far from the account, the Breton is hatched as the female hope that French tennis has been waiting for for years. Thierry Champion, the high-level boss at the federation, personally organized a course in his region, centered around Finistère, during confinement, to get it back on track after a long wrist injury. A misfortune as unfortunate as it was painful which cut short the player’s ascent after her silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and the reward of a first selection in the Fed Cup.
But the French camp believes in it, like its trainer, Alexia Dechaume, and Thierry Champion. “I love her racket stroke and her playing intelligence, she certainly has the makings of a Top 20”, noted the measured boss of the high level, Wednesday September 30, the evening of a difficult day for French tennis.
Apart from three survivors of the women’s table, French tennis indeed emerges from this Roland-Garros orphaned by its four musketeers. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was worn pale due to a persistent injury, while Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon have already left through a small door. Just like Adrian Mannarino, Jérémy Chardy or Benoît Paire.
Lucas Pouille, presented as the buyer of the gang of four, also being forfeited, the eyes of the Blues turned, Wednesday 30, on the center court, where the valiant Pierre-Hugues Herbert, usually sharper in doubles than ‘in singles, surrendered after valiantly scrapping. He risked himself 90 times at the net against the powerful Alexander Zverev, world number 7, just crowned a final at the US Open (lost against Dominic Thiem).
Only one Frenchman in the third round, none of the four historic big arms still on the court on Thursday of the first week… Unheard of for fifteen years. In this Bérézina, a single small bluish lantern rises over the French camp, waved with an almost fragile arm by the young Hugo Gaston. Perched on his modest 1.73 m, we never imagined the Toulouse player so high for his second participation in a Grand Slam tournament, after a defeat in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open.
A delicious game from another age
At the end of his victorious second round (6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2) against the solid Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, who evolves around the fiftieth place, the modest 239e world did not seem to believe it. “I didn’t expect it, necessarily”, he admitted before delivering the recipe for his potion. “I don’t have the template to make three aces per game, so I have to find other solutions”, he explains.
→ INVESTIGATION. The illustrious tennis unknown celebrated at Roland-Garros
He puts it into practice, day after day. A delicious and varied game that seems from another age in the era of baseline hitters. The computers of Roland-Garros recorded no less than twenty successful amortizations against the Japanese player, without counting sliced backhands evoking the Spaniard Manuel Orantes, crowned at Roland-Garros in … 1974.
Will it be enough against slugger Stanislas Wawrinka, former winner in 2015? The Swiss dreams of a return to the highest level after easily dismissing another glorious former, Andy Murray. Answer Friday, October 2, surely on a short more exposed than the modest 14 of his colleague Clara Burel.