Lucas Pouille Continues His Gradual Rise

Spread the love

As the so-called ‘big four era’ moves towards its natural conclusion, the eyes of the tennis world are turning towards the youngsters stepping across the threshold to eventually create their own era.

The age of significant progress now seems to be the early twenties with Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov leading the pack. Lower down the age bracket, the audacious Nick Kyrgios and the wildly confident teenager Borna Coric are both fully embracing their ‘wonderkid’ labels. Yet there is another youngster, quieter and more subdued, ready to burst onto the scene.

Lucas Pouille Continues His Gradual Rise

You would be easily forgiven for not recognising the name Lucas Pouille. Having played in just six Grand Slams and winning just a single match back in the 2013 French Open, it is easy for the Frenchman’s name to get lost in the echelons of tennis.

Lucas Pouille, 21, may not have had the meteoric rise of a Nick Kyrgios, or a Borna Coric but his progress has been steady, improving his end-of-year ranking consistently over the past three years. This progression has landed him currently at #64, simultaneously making him the fourth highest ranked player currently under 22 years old.

After turning pro in 2012 Pouille began, as is common, on the futures circuit, battling away until finally winning back-to-back trophies in Mexico in November. These titles enabled him to attempt to qualify for the Australian Open, easily dispatching big-serving Sam Groth 6-2 6-2 in the first round before falling in round two.

His first half of 2013 was spent playing a mixture of ATP Tour events in France – courtesy of wildcards – challenger events and futures events, one of which he won in Vietnam. He fully embraced a French Open wildcard by defeating Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round on his Grand Slam debut.

After a final futures victory in Estonia in July, the rising youngster turned his attention towards the challenger circuit full time, reaching a semi-final and quarter-final before the turn of the year, propelling him just inside the top 200.

Smart scheduling and an injury free season opened the path for Lucas Pouille’s most notable run to date on the hard courts of the Paris Masters towards the end of 2014. Defeating Steve Johnson and Jarkko Nieminen in qualifying, he then went on to dismantle top 30 players, Ivo Karlovic and Fabio Fognini without dropping a set in any match. Eventually he was stopped in the last sixteen by Roger Federer.

This current year began in similar fashion for the rising star, with a semi-final run in Auckland hastily followed by a valiant five-set defeat against seed and compatriot Gael Monfils in the first round of the Australian Open.

Grand Slam draws have been unkind this year with Gilles Simon and Kevin Anderson his first round opponents in the French Open and Wimbledon respectively but his form since Wimbledon has been particularly impressive. A semi-final appearance in the Poznan Open Challenger was reinforced by a spectacular run to the same stage of the bet-at-home Open in Hamburg last week, his deepest run in an ATP 500 tournament to date.

After coming through qualifying, Lucas Pouille managed to comfortably dismantle, not only Juan Monaco, but form player Benoit Paire before eventually succumbing to tenacious Italian Fabio Fognini. This form will give him confidence and momentum as he turns his attention to the hard court.

So what to make of the young Frenchman? He does not yet have the career-changing top 10 scalp that the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric have, but that is through no fault of his own as he has only had one opportunity against Roger Federer last year. He has proved himself an extremely capable player on both clay and hard courts and, whilst he is not the most explosive player on the circuit, is developing consistency to a well-rounded game.

As the current French number nine he does not yet have the media glare that the likes of Richard Gasguet, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils have and this seems to be benefitting the young man. His ability to stay injury free has enabled steady progress and it is surely only a matter of time before he breaks that top 50 barrier and moves onto the ATP Tour full-time.