23 Aces. 15 Double Faults. 66 points settled at the net. Maxime Cressy’s win over Jozef Kovalik has introduced the Grand Slam watching public to a whole new world. Except, of course, it isn’t a whole new world, or any other Disney’s Aladdin song for that matter. In fact, Cressy represents tennis from an era when we all had friends like him.
Cressy plays another rather unusual man in Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. This is a clash that a lot of tennis fans are very much looking forward to. The tennis public is beginning to get used to the ways of the Greek star, but who is Maxime Cressy?
A Brief History of Cressy
Born in Paris in 1997, Cressy was raised in France for most of his youth. His mother, Leslie, is American and had US collegiate sports experience as a volleyball player for USC. So when Cressy was “kicked out” (his own words) of the French Tennis Federation as a junior, making the trip over the Atlantic seemed a sensible alternative.
He found success early on in a juniors event in 2014 and began to get noticed by collegiate scouts. He eventually ended up on the program at UCLA, though it wasn’t straightforward at first. Cressy was mainly considered a doubles specialist but continued to work on his game. Eventually, in his senior year, he was given the #1 singles and #1 doubles berth in the Bruins squad. He completed his collegiate career by winning the National Championship in doubles with his partner Keegan Smith.
Standing at over two meters tall (6’6″ and change) and barrel-chested, Maxime Cressy certainly makes an impression on everyone he meets. He is also confident and vocal, as his teammates and opponents in college tennis will testify to.
The French-American plays tennis with confidence too. He has a booming first serve, as you may expect, but he doesn’t tone this down very much for the second delivery. The high double fault count is almost on purpose; Cressy wants to win points serve and volley if he can. This is why is game can be considered a throwback–he wants to make it to the net as quickly as he can. Often this is done behind the serve, but if that doesn’t happen then his repertoire of sliced forehands and backhands will often come into play to get him to his favorite position.
Now 23, Cressy’s transfer into professional tennis has already been very interesting, and successful too.
Success on the ITF and Challenger Tours
Cressy has played events on the ITF tour going back to 2016. Back then, as an amateur, he would routinely lose in the early rounds. Players ranked over #1000 in the world could get the better of him and there weren’t many signs in those results that he would become a Grand Slam player.
His first taste of success on the tours came in 2018 when he began reaching the latter stages of U.S.-based ITF events. Cressy lost to Brandon Nakashima, who also made the US Open second round, in his first ITF final in California, September 2018. He won his first title in Florida in December of that year and then went on to lift the trophy at the Cleveland Challenger event in February 2019. Cressy singles this out as a big change in his tennis.
Facing Stefanos Tsitsipas
There are currently 162 places between Maxime Cressy and his next opponent at the US Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek was exceptionally impressive in his opening round victory over a weaponless Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Cressy took four sets to defeat Jozef Kovalik but certainly captured the attention with his style.
Tsitsipas and his team will have an idea of what is coming for them in the second round and will have prepared accordingly. However, it is one thing to prepare for something in theory and quite another to have a two-meter giant serve-volleying at you for a best-of-five set match. Tsitsipas certainly has the practice in against big-servers though having faced John Isner, Kevin Anderson & Reilly Opelka in consecutive rounds at the Western & Southern Open.
It is matches like these where it is a shame that there are no crowds. It would be fascinating to see how a U.S. crowd might get behind Cressy and make a difference to the match. Cressy will certainly need all the help he can get as Tsitsipas will be strong favourite for this match-up.
Nonetheless, it is surely a must-watch for neutrals. It is likely that Cressy will discover that he has a lot of work to do to break into the top echelon of tennis stars, but the effort of seeing him try to use his “old school” game to break down one of the best will be fun. And fun is what we watch tennis for.
Main Photo from Getty.