Gael Monfils, 2016 US Open

Lucas Pouille‘s US Open campaign came to an end with a straight sets loss to Gaël Monfils in the quarterfinals. With three 5-sets win over Chiudinelli, Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal, the 22 year old Frenchman showed great physical and mental resources and he’s without a doubt a player to watch in the years to come.

As for Monfils, he’ll play Novak Djokovic on Friday in what looks like the most important match of his career.

Lucas Pouille

Lucas Pouille

Lucas Pouille
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Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

Lucas Pouille’s coach Emmanuel Planque talks about the Canadian’s improved game.

Interview by l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz

“Apart from Djoko, I don’t see anyone who can beat him here.” I told you that just after the match against Lucas (Pouille). I was a bit stunned after the match. I re-watched the match several times and the impression remained. OK, I wasn’t excited by the way Lucas started each set… but Milos gave us nothing. That guy doesn’t even give you the time of day. Right now, I find him fit. We’ve been talking about him as a future Grand Slam winner for two years now. Like Dimitrov? Yes and no. I’m sure Dimitrov will come back. But he’s less impressive and not prepared as well as Raonic. He has less weapons.

He’s really confident with his serve. In Brisbane and Melbourne, he was hitting second serves at 220, 224 and even 226 km/h. At some point you don’t know how to return them: if you step back, he hits a kick serve that bounces really high; if you move forward to cut the trajectory, he hits a 220km/h bullet. The average first serve speed is often mentioned as a way to judge a server, but don’t forget the second serve. He put power in it but it doesn’t mean that many more double faults. That’s tied to his current confidence and the fact that he hasn’t played the top two best returners yet, Murray and Djoko, who can bother him. The idea is to make him run so he’ll serve between 160 and 180 km/h. Because if he serves at 130, he’ll be more accurate, more coordinated, more relaxed. But it’s hard to make him run much when he’ll try and shorten the point quickly.

He has improved his game considerably. Mainly because he doesn’t have any physical problems. Last year, he had to undergo surgery to repair pinched nerve in his foot. Good health means more intensity at practice. You can tell he has worked on his returns. He’s much more consistent. Before he could miss a few second serve returns in a row. Today, he puts you continuously under pressure without taking any risks. He returns hard in the middle, that allows him to take a lot of second shots with his forehand. And then it’s difficult to escape. Facing him, you get tense and you lose 10 to 15 km/h on your serve. I think Milos has assimilated the fact that the best players in the world aren’t the best servers. His goal is to get a ratio of quality of serve/quality of return that is much better than the others’.

He’s part of a very strong project. To me, he’s not a Canadian at all. He’s a Yugo (born in Podgorica, Raonic lived in Montenegro until he was eight). He reminds me of Djoko with his ambition and application. Raonic is straightforward, intelligent, a worker. The guy could easily have been an engineer. Now he’s a tennis player, that’s his job. He’s not emotional, he’s rational. He works on his mechanics. Ljubicic (now Federer’s coach) helped with his serve and second shot. Ljubicic leaves and Raonic takes Moya, who’ll help him with his returns and bring him the deep parts of the game. And above all he has Piatti (former coach of Ljubicic and Gasquet) who is a great coach and who is doing a hell of a job with him.

Would it hurt tennis if Raonic became number one? I don’t agree with that kind of pessimism. I hear some people say Raonic is bland, isn’t sexy, he’s boring … No! Sure, tennis of tomorrow will be guys 1.95m tall moving like guys 1.75 tall and who can return too. Can these critics affect Raonic? I feel he’s there to win. The rest …

Novak Djokovic, Bercy Masters 2015

I spent a few days in Paris last week for the BNP Paribas Masters, the ninth and final Masters 1000 event of the season. Novak Djokovic captured the title, dispatching Andy Murray 6-2 6-4 in the final. Enjoy my pictures and recaps of day 1 to day 4.

Djokovic and Federer in the subway
David Ferrer defeats Alexandr Dolgopolov

No struggle for the 2012 champion David Ferrer who beats Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2 6-2 in just an hour!

David Ferrer

Alexandr Dolgopolov

David Ferrer
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Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Fabrice Martin and Lucas Pouille

An entertaining doubles match to finish this first morning session: the experienced team of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek face the pair of Lucas Pouille and Fabrice Martin. I must admit I had never heard of Martin before today, but he was quite impressive at the net, and the French pair win the first set 6-3. The veteran Stepanek is on fire in the second set, and the Czechs level at one set all. Martin hurts himself during the match tiebreak, and Berdych and Stepanek win 3-6 6-0 10-4.

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Fabrice Martin and Lucas Pouille
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