There will be only one Frenchman in the round of 16 of the Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo. He is a ghost. Lucas Pouille, who fell to 86th place in the world, lives again on the Rock. He even returns in the race for selection for the Olympics.
For the first time since October 2019, Lucas Pouille has won two games in a row on the circuit. Broken in the middle of the third set (2-3) this Wednesday during the 2nd round of the Monte-Carlo tournament, the Northerner, 86th in the world, showed certain courage to overthrow the Australian Alexei Popyrin (7-5, 2-6, 6-3). A meeting disputed in the anonymity of the 9. A court without stands and where the coaches are literally on the court. Very astonishing conditions for a Masters 1000.
“It’s not to blame anyone but to play up there, on the 9th (without stands, editor’s note), where the coach is on a bench in front of you, it’s average. I know the weather forecast was uncertain but seeing that there is a double on the Princes’ court and that Khachanov and Carreno Busta are also up there, I do not find that normal. I felt like I was playing Futures, “said the French after his match.
Close to the Olympic dream, five years later
Far from the courts after his elbow surgery, the Frenchman is too hungry to dwell on these details. He’s just happy to see that his level of play increases over the weeks. Thanks to this performance on the Rock, Lucas Pouille scored valuable ATP points and began to believe in an Olympic destiny, he who had missed the Rio Games in 2016 for a handful of points.
“It’s in a corner of my head, of course, he admits. Rio, I had missed them in special circumstances.” During the chopper ranking for the selection, five years ago, the Nordiste was number 6 in France, behind Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gaël Monfils, Gilles Simon and Benoît Paire. During the summer, Gasquet had given up and the DTN had retained Benoît Paire, respecting the rules, even if Lucas Pouille had climbed the standings after his quarter at Wimbledon.
A tenacious resentment towards Benoît Paire
In sporting terms, the Avignon resident had been flawless but he had been excluded from the delegation for having broken the rules (he had slept in the hotel and no longer in the Olympic village, editor’s note). Lucas Pouille had retained a stubborn resentment during the US Open where he pointed out the guys who “spit on the jersey”. The two men did not speak to each other for a long time before reconciling.
Five years later, Lucas Pouille finds himself in the position of the hunter. He will have to be in the top four French in the ATP ranking that will follow Roland-Garros. “I was a little behind the others, he confides. The advantage is that I did not sink in the standings. If there had not been the freeze, I would not have had any more points at all! ” Thursday, in the round of 16, Lucas Pouille will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 58th in the world. The Spaniard released Italian Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday. This will be the first meeting between the two players.