At Roland-Garros, the rebirth of Lucas Pouille after a descent into hell

It’s still a little early to talk about resurrection, but this victory certainly has a little taste of paradise after a descent into hell. Lucas Pouille, down to 670e place in the world, won his ticket for the big picture of Roland-Garros, after his victory, Thursday, May 25, at 3e qualifying round at the expense of Jurij Rodionov (1-6, 7-5, 6-0). On court 14, the semi-buried enclosure behind Suzanne-Lenglen, where he has taken up residence since the first of his three qualifying matches, the 29-year-old Frenchman knocked down 134e worldwide in an atmosphere worthy of the finest hours of the Davis Cup.

Fell into oblivion in the world rankings after months of injuries, doubts and depression, the former 10e world almost stopped tennis for good in the fall of 2022. “I began to have a darker side and to enter into a depression which led me, after Roland, to sleep an hour a night and to drink alone, he poured himself out at length in The Team, in March. (…) I was sinking into something creepy. I got up with my eyes popping out. (…) I was in a bad phase. And I made the decision to say stop. For my sanity, it had to stop. »

At Bercy, at the beginning of November 2022, he comes to encourage his friend Gilles Simon, who is playing his last tournament before retiring. The journalists hand him the microphone, evoke the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, which he has never tasted. “It works for me. And when I left Bercy, I said to my wife: “I’m going back to tennis.” »

It’s been so long since I’ve experienced this…”

Invited by the organizers of Roland-Garros to compete in the qualifications, the Northerner honored his precious sesame. After getting rid, Monday, May 22, of the Czech Tomas Machac, n° 127 at the ATP (7-5, 6-3), then, Wednesday, May 24, of the young Taiwanese Tseng Chun-hsin, 21 years old (215e5-7, 6-3, 6-0), he cleared the last hurdle with a courageous victory over the Austrian of Belarusian origin Jurij Rodionov.

Feverish in the first set and powerless against the precise and aggressive left-hander, Pouille was borrowed in his placements, too greedy in power, regularly making mistakes. “Come on, we wake up here, Lucas”, launches a bold spectator. “Come on, there’s room there”, adds another. Stung in his pride, the Frenchman harangues the public, his fist clenched, which does not need to be asked to amplify the “Lu-cas”. Reinvigorated, the Northerner gave himself a start. He takes Rodionov’s serve at 6-5 to pick up one set everywhere. From there, there is only one player on the court, the Frenchman inflicts a 6-0 on the Austrian to finish.

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