with Clara Burel and Hugo Gaston, French tennis relies on its youth

Clara Burel, during her victory against the Slovenian Kaja Juvan in the second round of Roland-Garros, on October 1.

At the start of this fortnight at Roland Garros, Clara Burel and Hugo Gaston had no plans to become the standard bearers of French tennis with their “wild card” (invitation) and their modest ranking (357e and 239e worldwide). And then their compatriots fell one after the other, and not always in the field of honor. Aged 20, the Toulousain even finds himself in the shoes of the last survivor before facing the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka (winner of the tournament in 2015) this Friday, for a place in the round of 16. Burel, 19, is at least fortunate enough to be accompanied by her elders Caroline Garcia (26) and Fiona Ferro (23) in the third round.

Coming from the federal fold, Burel shone in the ranks of juniors (finalist at the Australian Open and the US Open) like a lot of French men and women before her. Subsequently, the Rennaise gave the impression of leveling off. A false start among the adults which is explained by a year 2019 wasted by a wrist operation. After the victory of her protégé against the Slovenian Kaja Juvan (7-6, 6-2), Alexia Dechaume returned to this complicated period to justify this delay in ignition and this still very modest classification.

Read also: Clara Burel goes in the third round

“Last year, Clara was at home during Roland-Garros, tells the one who coached Amélie Mauresmo, present on court 14 to encourage Burel. It was hard for her. I too had a wrist injury for a year and a half. We are chomping at the bit. We do not know if we will replay normally and the doubt sets in. On the back, the pain persisted for a long time, forcing his player to resume in October 2019 with foam balls.

Very soon presented as the next generation of French tennis – in particular by the president of the FFT, Bernard Giudicelli -, Burel remains a talent for improvement, especially in terms of his service and his physique. Aware of her shortcomings, she worked hard during confinement, with the director of the high level of the federation, Thierry Champion, who came to help her strengthen her game on the courts of Perros-Guirec.

Hit quality for the Rennaise

But there are things that cannot be learned and cannot be worked on. The Frenchwoman (opposed in the third round to the Chinese Zhang Shuai, scorer of Alizé Cornet) has for her a rare quality of strike, in particular in forehand, but also denotes the kingdom of the baseline hitters. “Clara puts variation in her game, notes Alexia Dechaume. And in current women’s tennis, it is very important to know how to offer different things to your opponent.

Another point in common with Hugo Gaston, with whom Burel says ” very good [s]‘hear . The two had the opportunity to get to know each other during the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. In Buenos Aires, Gaston won the gold medal and Burel the silver, beaten in the final by… Kaja Juvan, her victim of the day at Roland Garros.

Gaston, the little prince of the cushioned

With his physique of a scrum half from the 1990s (1.73 m), the Haut-Garonnais offers a different game, atypical and very creative ”, according to his trainer Marc Barbier, interviewed by The Team. Shy when it comes to responding to journalists by videoconference, health measure requires, Gaston is more inspired with his racket. Instead, ask the unfortunate Yoshihito Nishioka (52e World), beaten in four sets in the second round. The Japanese have discovered the chef’s specialty: the cushion, served in almost any sauce but devilishly effective and pleasant in the mouth for the spectators.

Hugo Gaston had fun with the balls like his opponent, the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, in the second round of Roland-Garros, Wednesday, September 30.

World number two among juniors in 2018, Gaston must earn his place among the greats with his own weapons. “I don’t have the template to make three aces per game, so I have to find solutions”, concedes this admirer of Rafael Nadal. But unlike the Spaniard, he does not have this huge forehand slap either: he has to build his points, constantly surprise against opponents who are often bigger and more powerful.

Read also: Hugo Gaston, a breakthrough for French tennis

At the risk of not finding it himself. When Hugo knocks, he has ten possibilities. Sometimes it gets mixed up “, details Barbier about this child of the ball, on the courts from 3 years of the club of Fonsorbes (south-west of Toulouse), whose father is still the president.

It was there that Gaston developed a habit that almost makes him a UFO on the ATP circuit: that of never letting his ball bounce frantically before serving, like a Novak Djokovic. “I know that surprises a lot of people. But I have always served like that and I feel good that way. “ So why look like others when you can be yourself?


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