18-year-old Frenchman Arthur Fils will play his first-ever match at Roland-Garros on Monday. Off the back of winning the Open Parc Avergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon last week, the teenager will face a tough task in this first-round encounter.
Fils’ introduction to Paris will be against clay-court specialist and No 29 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Davidovich Fokina is a former quarter-finalist at Roland-Garros, holding a strong 5-4 record at the tournament. The Spaniard is known for his incredible fitness, shot making, and potential to play aggressive tennis.
With Fils high on confidence, this is sure to be a match full of fireworks – and he talked to the media about what it meant to win his first title in Lyon last week, and how he’s feeling heading into his Roland-Garros debut.
“It’s going to be a great match on a great court with the audience behind me.”
“I feel good. I travelled yesterday after my match, and I trained for one hour today. I’m ready for Roland. It’s going to be a great match on a great court with the audience behind me.”
With the high of winning his first title, and being thrust into the limelight as a French player, Fils appears to have remained grounded.
“Of course, it’s been a long time [since] a French [player won] a Grand Slam. But, no, no extra pressure. I’m young, I’m 18, I have all my career in front of me, so I have time.”
A Fils swinging freely with no pressure, and the crowd behind him on Simonne-Mathieu, is certainly a prospect the No 29 seed will be wary of.
Fils prepared for five sets, despite cramps in Lyon
One of the big questions over any young male player is how they’ll hold up over the best of five sets. Concerningly, Fils showed some signs of cramping last week in Lyon, in his three-set semi-final against Brandon Nakashima.
“I have five sets in the legs,” asserted the 18-year-old.
“We worked a lot with my coaches to be ready to play those five sets, but then it all depends on your emotion. They were not fatigue cramps, but emotionally speaking it was quite difficult.”
Despite question marks over how he’ll perform in this week’s Grand Slam, Fils appears as relaxed as can be. The Frenchman portrays a balance of confidence and groundedness, as expressed in his assessment of tomorrow’s match:
“He plays very well. I’ll have to really produce a good game to be able to win. But, yes, I trust in myself, and let’s see what happens.”