We had left it on an image that has been around the world, that of Dominic Thiem’s thumbs up after Hugo Gaston’s performance in the round of 16. The Austrian had had all the trouble in the world to come to the end in five sets of this young 20-year-old Toulousain, hitherto unknown to the general public, who had mystified Stanislas Wawrinka in the previous round by dint of cushioning and blows came from a time when we stroked the ball more than we bombarded it. “If he continues like this, he will become a very great player and give a lot of happiness on this court”, a relieved and admiring Dominic Thiem had declared at the microphone.
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Released to the cheers of a meager audience reduced to 1,000 people, the small left-hander (1.73 m) then had the honors of the front page of The magazine team and television sets.
Not enough to stun the coach Marc Barbier, who has followed the young player since the age of 8. “We can always talk about the potential of such and such a player, but that has no value until he has validated. Him, he validated “, he declares in an enthralling documentary of the program “Interior Sport” broadcast recently on Canal + and available in replay. “But he reached during the week of Roland-Garros a level which exceeds his usual level”, he adds. Hard but realistic for a boy who came out of qualifying, with a ranking oscillating during the year 2020 between the 150 and the 200e world place.
“I want to get out of the field being happy”
The result will prove him right, since his player will experience a catastrophic start to the 2021 season, with a failure in the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open and eliminations from entry into Challenger tournaments (second division). The documentary also reveals rather sad images of an internship in Spain in February, which will be interrupted because of the behavior of Hugo Gaston in full doubt, unable to find the pleasure of the game. conversations with a psychologist later, the Toulousain gradually regained confidence. Even hooking a final (lost) at the Challenger tournament in Rome at the end of April, before going on for quality matches.
It is therefore with that gracious smile that melted tennis fans last year that we are watching him on Tuesday 1er on the Suzanne-Lenglen court, with everything to gain against an opponent who has nothing more to prove. The chance of the draw placed the young left-hander face to face with Richard Gasquet, a formidable 34-year-old client, who announced covertly on RMC that his 18e Roland-Garros could well be the last.
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At a press conference on Monday, May 31, the youngest confessed his admiration for his elder brother and showed an apparently rediscovered mental freshness. “It’s a chance for me to be able to meet such a player, did he declare. I’ll give it my all on the pitch and we’ll see. I try to take advantage because it is a chance to be able to appear in the final table (he received an invitation from the Federation, Editor’s note). I don’t set myself a target for results, I just want to get off the field and be happy. “