At Roland-Garros, the endless fall of French tennis

After hitting bottom, French tennis continues to dig. By 2021 he had already set a sad record, when no Habs had gone beyond the second round at Roland-Garros. On Sunday, May 22, for the first time since 1999, the Paris Grand Slam opened without any Blues being among the tournament’s top seed, this guarantee offered the 32 best players and players in the ATP and WTA rankings of no meet in their first two games. This year, again, there is no reason to dream of a possible successor to Yannick Noah or Mary Pierce, the last French headlines, in 1983 and 2000.

Evening

The generation of the “four musketeers”, brought to the men’s table by the semifinals of Gaël Monfils in 2008 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2013 and then in 2015, will soon only offer twilight. On the 22ndi The first place in the world allowed him to dream of a surprise race like the quarterfinals of Richard Gasquet six years ago, but a heel discomfort dragged on since the start of the season forced the number one Frenchman to retire , last week.

When the second one could see how his fortnight was reduced to a single afternoon from the draw that reserved for him, for this Monday, May 23, a very high first step in the person of Casper Ruud, number 8 in the world. At the age of 37, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will end his career after his thirteenth Roland-Garros, now “Relieved to know it’s last” : “Because I still have my mind and body telling me it’s time to stop”, he acknowledged at a press conference.

Gilles Simon, who, like Tsonga, owes his participation to an invitation from the organizers, will imitate him at the end of the season, after saying that he is aware that his level “steadily declining since then a few years “. Finally, he returned to 75i Richard Gasquet does not seem convinced of his chances: the 35-year-old is announced on France Télévisions’ commentary team as soon as his tournament is over. Although his velvet setback still allowed him a prestigious victory against world number two Daniil Medvedev during the preparation tournament in Geneva.

The younger generation is waiting

Unknown are Benoît Paire (broken rackets more often than not sparkling), Alizé Cornet (quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in January, her best Grand Slam performance at 32), or Lucas Pouille, the whose subscription to the infirmary. For the past two seasons, the hopes of a last four in a big tournament in Melbourne in 2019 have been gone.

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Released from health indicators this year, the stands are pending new faces to reconnect with the excitement. Problem: The younger generation is waiting, or struggling to be confirmed, after the spectacular performances of Fiona Ferro and Hugo Gaston, both eighth finalists two years ago.

If the Blues are more often invited to the trophy presentation among juniors, many stumble upon the qualifying phase for the main draw, where only Geoffrey Blancaneaux has been offered a place this year among the 27 Frenchmen involved. In 2016, Francilien lifted the cup in front of Félix Auger-Aliassime, another hope set in the world top 10, and became one of the ambassadors of the yellow ball in Canada, a new stronghold alongside Spain. , from Russia and Italy.

Changes “every two to three years” at the head of the federation

Asked by The team Apart from the last preparation tournament in Rome, where no Tricolor was classified, the German Jan de Witt, former coach of Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon, explained this sad situation with too frequent changes in the direction of the federation. french. “We do something, then new people come in and do something different”analyzed, a year after the arrival of Gilles Moretton as president of the FFT. “If we want to build a program that takes players to the top, it will take at least five years. And probably between eight and ten years to start seeing results. »

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To achieve the goals set for 2024 by national technical director Nicolas Escudé – two women and two men in the top 20, four quarter-finals of the Grand Slam and three Olympic or Paralympic medals at the Paris Games in 2024 – training should be particular “Cultivate everything that covers the mental dimension and give it a meaningful place with players and coaches,” slips Francisca Dauzet, recently in charge of mental support within the FFT.

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Djokovic, Alcaraz and Swiatek favorites

Away from the tracks until October, Roger Federer is absent from the tournament. Rafael Nadal, record of victories in Paris (13), appears physically diminished, and the number one of the world and current champion, Novak Djokovic, is in the same part of the table as the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, the man to beat this season. about mud. The women remain with eight different winners, but the Polish Iga Swiatek is the only favorite: a surprise winner in 2020, she has 28 unbeaten matches.

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