Lucas Pouille has qualified for his first knockout round in the Grand Slam for sixteen months. At the Australian Open, he was pushed, Saturday, January 19, in a fifth set by the Australian Alexei Popyrin, 19, 149th world and "invited" to the tournament.
The Frenchman had not been to such a party since the US Open 2017. Stealth number 10 worldwide, slipped to the doors of the top 30, Puglie trembled, embarked on a final set after getting a match point in the third, but he finally rallied the second week after a fight of more than 3:40 min (7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-7 (10/12), 4-6, 6-3) .
He does not hide being scared, when, after two solid games, he let fly a match point in the decisive game of the third and could not avoid an extra match. "I was not calm when I went to the locker room (after the 4th set). Many thoughts passed in my head. Finally I managed to override and leave as if it was a new match ", said Apulia, "Very happy to have found the solution".
"I win this game in the mind, these games, I lost them, last season He said.
Puglia was revealed in the summer of 2016 by reaching two quarter-finals in major tournament shot after time at Wimbledon and the US Open. But in 2018, envy and confidence vanished, there was a ceiling in the third round (Roland Garros and US Open) and, after a sad season, had been ejected from the top 30.
2019 or the season of redemption
Now trained by Amélie Mauresmo, her 2019 season opens on promising bases. And Pouille takes a liking to Australia, he who had never won a match in Melbourne in five participations before.
Last French in the running, he will challenge the young Croatian Borna Coric (12th, 22 years) for a place in the quarterfinals. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (55), looking for his first eighth final in major tournament, could not do much (6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6)) against Canadian Milos Raonic (17th).
End of the series for Djokovic: the N.1 world lost a set, the third, before winning (6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0) against the young Canadian Denis Shapovalov (27th) . It had not happened to him since 24 Grand Slam matches. He had the advantage 4 games to 1.
His response was quick: "Djoko", who has "Appreciated to be tested", in the aftermath inflicted a scathing 6-0 to the Canadian southpaw, "A little physically dead" and out "Mentally fatigued" of his very first face-to-face with the Serb with 14 trophies in Grand Slam. "Let's say I want to take a nap", smiled Shapovalov.
With this success, the 31-year-old Serb is guaranteed to remain on the throne of world tennis after the Australian fortnight. A year ago, he lost in the round of 16 (against Chung).
His next opponent, the young Russian Daniil Medvedev (19th), did not concede a single set in his first three rounds (against Harris, Harrison and Goffin). But at 22, he will live his first round of 16 Grand Slam.
Unlike Djokovic, Alexander Zverev (N.4) accelerated. Forced to play five sets in the previous round, the young German, leader of the new generation (21 years), outclassed the Australian guest Alex Bolt 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to afford a first Round of 16 in Melbourne
Serena Williams continues her journey
Melbourne will not attend the 31st episode of the over 20-year rivalry between the Williams sisters in the round of 16. Serena filled her part of the contract without blinking in 67 minutes (6-2, 6-1) at the expense of the Ukrainian girl Dayana Yastremska (57, 18). Back to competition four months after her explosive final at the US Open, the US champion has " not yet " regained his best level but is " on the road ".
But Venus (36th, 38 years old) did not carry the weight against the world No.1 Simona Halep, victorious 6-2, 6-3 at the end of her "Best match of the tournament". After two very tricky first rounds, the 27-year-old Romanian, who had not won a match for five months before the Australian Open and who had shortened her 2018 season at the end of September because of a herniated disc, clearly raised his level of play.
The Halep hurdle now stands on the road to Serena, looking at a 37th Grand Slam crown at age 37 to match the all-time record held by Australia's Margaret Court.