In Melbourne, French tennis breathless

Gaël Monfils, struggling with Croatian Ivo Karlovic, during the second round of the Australian Open, Thursday, January 23, 2020. (AP Photo / Andy Brownbill)
Gaël Monfils, struggling with Croatian Ivo Karlovic, during the second round of the Australian Open, Thursday, January 23, 2020. (AP Photo / Andy Brownbill)

Hecatomb, debacle, Bérézina… by force, we no longer know which term to use as the performances of the French in Grand Slam follow each other and have been alike for more than two years. Thursday January 23, the 4e Australian Open day was fatal for the Blues in Melbourne. Everyone took the door in the second round of the tournament with one exception.

As often, in the French tennis landscape, the tree that hides the forest is called Gaël Monfils. The French number one, whose hand injury – a bone edema while playing on a computer game in early December during his vacation – had talked about before the start of the competition, qualified for the 3e round at the expense of the Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic, who will celebrate his 41 years in February (4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5).

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Things had started badly for the world No. 10, who let go of the first run before snatching the second in the tie-break. "La Monf’ ", who remains in a quarter-final at the US Open, must face on Saturday 25 January the Latvian revenant Ernest Gulbis, ex-world n ° 10 released this year from qualifications, for a place in 8e final.

The twilight of Tsonga

The current crisis in French tennis is firstly reflected in the decrepitude of those prematurely baptized the "new musketeers". Apart from Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (34), Gilles Simon (35) and Richard Gasquet (33), presented at the start of their careers as potential Grand Slam winners, missed their chance to raise a of the four Majors.

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Tsonga, a finalist in 2008, was forced to retire on Tuesday in the first round due to back pain. A recurring problem which made Manceau wonder about the follow-up to his career. “We can consider everything. As long as the doctors give me hope, there will be a reflection. If they don’t give me hope that it will get better at some point, there’ll be a little less thinking, ” he summed up to L'Equipe.

Gasquet, also far from being spared his body, had to forfeit due to a knee injury. So, between a generation at the end of the cycle and the absence of Lucas Pouille, a semi-finalist surprised last year, currently in the recovery phase, the French chances were rather reduced.

The good results of the next generation at the start of the season could give cause for hope. The victory over Benoit Paire in Auckland of Ugo Humbert, 21 and younger French to have won an ATP tournament for twelve years (Richard Gasquet in Bombay in 2007, also at 21) and the final of Corentin Moutet, 20, in Doha were a good omen one week before the first Grand Slam of the season. But the young shoots failed to confirm, coming out of the entrance.

Patrice Hagelauer, former coach of Yannick Noah and former national technical director of French tennis, wonders about the preparation of players: "There is no miracle, the physical cannot forgive", how does he World.

The victory of the Blue in the Fed Cup on November 10, 2019 in Perth, on the ground of the Australians, will not have long been an illusion. This first Grand Slam of the year once again confirms all the current difficulties in French women's tennis. None of the five players entered in the main draw reached the 3e tower.

Bis repetita

Alizé Cornet, last tricolor representative in the ladies, was eliminated Thursday in the second round by the Croatian Donna Vekic, seeded n ° 19 (6-4, 6-2) in 1h31 of play. Cornet, 61e world, is failing at the same stage as last year. In 2009, the one who celebrated her 30th birthday on January 22 had reached 8e his best result in Melbourne so far.

As for Kristina Mladenovic (41e), imperial in the final of the Fed Cup, the draw had reserved an entry shock against world number two, the Czech Karolina Pliskova, who swept her fissa (6-1, 7-5).

How to explain such a gap between individual and collective performances? “There is a world between all these trials. In Fed Cup, we are transcended. There is a team spirit, a dynamic. Once the competition is over, we find ourselves alone facing its difficulties ”, Patrice Hagelauer analyzes.

Caroline Garcia and Fiona Ferro missed a chance to take revenge on Wednesday. The two comrades in the France team bowed respectively to the Tunisian Ons Jabeur and the Chinese Wang Qiang … the same two players who had taken them out to the US Open in August 2019.

"It is not normal with tennis for her to have such results", Patrice Hagelauer reacts about the 26-year-old Lyonnaise, ex-4e of the WTA ranking in 2018. Nothing is going well for Garcia, today relegated to a modest 46e rank. Considered one of the most gifted players on the circuit, announced by Andy Murray as a "Future world number one", she has not passed the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for a year and a half.

On Thursday, the French women broke a record. But that one, they would have done well. It has been thirty-five years since the Australian Open ended the third round.

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