Home Sport the French in search of light

the French in search of light

Gael Monfils, the French number 1 at Roland-Garros.
Gael Monfils, the French number 1 at Roland-Garros. BERNAT ARMANGUE / AP

While the first balls of the 2019 edition of Roland-Garros will be exchanged, Sunday, May 26, the French tennis, under construction for years, he has solved his problems so as to arrive in working order. Auteuil? Like the venerable Parisian tournament, which, despite a delay, completed its twelve works in time for the opening. A "Funny comparison", fun Patrice Hagelauer, the former coach of Yannick Noah. But "The situation is quite complicated on the French side, the technician agrees, there is really nothing to be reassured. "

Read also Roland-Garros 2019: the 12 reconstruction works

Because to enumerate the states of form of the hexagonal players comes from the litany. One – Richard Gasquet – back from injury, recently claimed to be "Once again a tennis player. It's already very beautiful for me ». Another – Lucas Pouille -, quickly fell back into his straits after reaching, to everyone's surprise, the semifinals of the Australian Open. A third – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – has squeaky body, when another – Gilles Simon – "Do not know what to do to get fit". And the table is hardly more cheerful ladies side, where the French number 1, Caroline Garcia, struggles to enchainer and no longer hide the decimated forest behind her.

Since the start of the season, the French know they will not do worse than last year. By reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne, a first for a Blue since 2016, Lucas Pouille has erased the sad year 2018, the worst since 1980 with no quarter-final Grand Slam. Statistical side, they are covered.

"Play the card of surprise"

Short side, on the other hand, the landscape is more of the dreary plain than flights to the peaks. To heal their bruises to the soul, the French are reduced to "Play the card of surprise", notes in The Parisian the boss of the tournament, Guy Forget. The possibility of an appearance as sudden as unspoken, even if they surprise themselves. "It only takes a game that pinches well, for a player to say," Here, my tennis is back. ", insists the former captain of the Blues, relying on "Experience" Grand Slam players.

It will be enough for a sign for the subtle wheels to engage, prolongs Patrice Hagelauer. "The key word in tennis is confidence. And she wins in the victories, there is no other solution », target the former coach. Who bets on affordable first laps to unravel the mechanisms. "In grand-slam tournaments, when you manage to pass one round, and then two, even when it's tough fighting, you'll regain that confidence. " And the illustrations are numerous: last year, the Italian Marco Cecchinato did not he hoisted in the semifinals without having never before taken a turn in one of the four major tournaments of the circuit?

In a season where the veterans rustle, where Puglie seeks his confidence, and where the next generation – Corentin Moutet, Ugo Humbert … – can not yet win, the spark could come from the two most fantastic players that the contingent French: Gaël Monfils and Benoît Paire.

Read also Is there anyone to save French tennis?

Monfils and Pair headlining

After a season 2018 perforated with wounds and doubts – to the point of returning to the circuit Challenger (the "second division" of tennis) in September to revive – Gael Monfils is back. And it is undoubtedly he who focuses French hopes. If there is still a lack of benchmarks, the player, who has enlisted the services of American coach Liam Smith, assumes his goals. In Madrid, he trumpets "Want to win a Grand Slam, simply" and his hunger "To make big results. "

No bragging for "The Monf". Before Roland-Garros, he says: "My ambitions are the same on every tournament. I want to go far, to win big titles. From time to time, the game goes with it, it follows. But from time to time, we play a little less well. But it's not because we're not on top at one time that ambition changes. "

Assagi, more serene – he consulted a psychologist at the end of the year, who taught him to accept the days without – in his game as in his life – he made no secret of his history with the world number 6, the 'Ukrainian Elina Svitolina -, Gael Monfils aspires to excellence. Semi-finalist in 2008, the number 1 French (and 16e world) knows the path of the last square and "Really believe it. " The important thing is to believe it, but his three small victories on ocher this year put a damper to this belief.

Garcia or Mladenovic side women

Benoît Paire has had some victories on the ground. After a title in Marrakech, the bearded won the tournament in Lyon the day before the opening of Roland-Garros. A victory in the final against Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, the exciting future of world tennis, admittedly diminished, "Auspicious for the future" admitted the native of Vaucluse. Unpredictable, the one that the former technical director, Patrice Dominguez (died in 2015) saw as a "Poorly trained stallion" with certain potential, assume its course and sinuosities. "Compared to other players, I have this thing that makes you never know what can happen, does he assure The Team. Even I do not know what can happen on the ground. "

Never at ease on the clay of the Paris tournament, the French number 1, Caroline Garcia aspires to reach the quarter-finals, reached in 2017. Finalist Saturday of the tournament in Strasbourg, the 24e The world player is ready to succeed at Roland-Garros. Behind her, Kristina Mladenovic, strong of a new coach – Sascha Bajin, the former coach of world number 1 Naomi Osaka – comes out of a tournament of Rome of good quality.

What to let appear the hope of a beautiful course of one or a Blue (e) to Roland? "Honestly I preferred to arrive at Roland Garros with players who were really physically fit and who had won matches, Patrice Hagelauer attacks. It's always better. "When I'm not good and everyone thinks it's not going to go, that's where I can get the biggest games out.", concludes Benoît Paire. A maxim that French tennis hopes to have at Roland-Garros. After the big projects, an enchanted parenthesis?

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