“I have overcome a milestone,” says French hopeful Luca Van Assche

A year after his junior table title, Luca Van Assche (18) returns to the Roland-Garros clay courts on Tuesday. Since then on the senior circuit, the Parisian player (381st in the world, best ranked in his birth year 2004) has lived twelve months of apprenticeship. For the 2022 edition he did not get an invitation for the main board, but for the ratings. For RMC Sport, apart from the Aix-en-Provence tournament, Van Assche is confident in the last months and his ambitions for the future.

A year after that junior title at Roland-Garros, how are you, Luca?

It’s going very well. He is physically well, with no injuries. In recent months I have trained well, I have won matches. Everything is OK.

How do you judge in recent months?

I overcame a milestone from Roland-Garros last year. I gained a lot of experience winning this title among the juniors and that allowed me to throw myself completely among the seniors and it went pretty well.

Do you think that the title pays special attention to you?

Surely we hear a lot more people following you, we see it on the networks. We also see the criticism around French tennis and this highlighted us a lot with the four in the semi-finals of the junior draw (Arthur Fils, Sean Cuenin and Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard). Of course, I’m better known than Roland before, but I don’t feel any pressure for that.

This title has opened the door to certain tournaments such as Montpellier, the Paris Masters 1000, or even Monte Carlo, where you have received invitations.

Surely playing great tournaments like this and being part of the tournament with the best players in the world, seeing the atmosphere, how it goes, how the best ones evolve in a tournament, that gives me a lot of experience. And being able to play games against the best players in the world also allows me to see the way to go.

Exactly where do you stand on this path that remains to be done?

I work hard every day and get better every day. I learn new things every time I play and I try to take advantage of it to progress.

“Alcaraz and Rune are UFOs”

Want to reach the final table this year?

Roland is still an unforgettable moment in my career and I will always think about it, every year when I play Roland. It’s normal to have a very strong bond with this tournament, and that makes me even more eager to succeed this year and the next. I will give my best to deliver the best performance possible. If I ever get a chance to play a main draw at Roland, I don’t care about the track as long as I get a chance to play the tournament.

This year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon are playing their last Roland Garros. Tsonga will stop his career after the tournament. Be part of this younger generation that will be participating in tournaments for the next decade. Do you want to take the torch?

The four French (with Gasquet and Monfils, editor’s note) were monstrous, had an exceptional career. We can’t blame them, they took French tennis very high for many years, it would be a pleasure to take over. I would be happy to get it, and I will give it my all to do it.

Do you sometimes feel like you’re being compared to incredible players like Carlos Alcaraz or Holger Rune?

There are two players born in 2003, Alcaraz and Rune, who are very, very strong. They are UFOs as you say. We can only take their example and be inspired by them. We look forward to getting closer. After blaming us for being late, I think not. If we look at the under-18 rankings, with Arthur Fils, we are the first two. I don’t think we are late, especially those who are far ahead.

Are you 381st in the standings, is there a ranking goal to be in the keys to the Grand Slam standings for example?

I set goals for the game I produce, the intentions I have. If I train well, I’m focused on it and give it my all every day, inevitably the work will pay off. I will be able to chain the results to be part of the Top 200 and go up day by day.

Interview with Anthony Rech

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