At 18 years and 8 months old, Arthur Fils won his first semi-final on the ATP circuit on Friday, defeating his compatriot Quentin Halys (7-6, 6-3). In doing so, he became the youngest Blue to reach this stage of competition on the circuit since Richard Gasquet in Metz in 2004. Gregoire Barrère was eliminated.
When Richard Gasquet did it, Arthur Fils was only four months old. And on Friday, at 18 years and 8 months old, he became the youngest French semi-finalist in an ATP tournament since his glorious elder brother from Berne in the fall of 2004. It’s quite a feat of fate when you consider that Fils eliminated Gasquet in the first round of this Open Sud de France earlier this week, which will undoubtedly mark a turning point for him. In the quarter-finals, he impressed again against another compatriot, Quentin Halys (ranked 70th in the world), winning in two sets and 1 hour and 22 minutes of play on the Patrice-Dominguez court. The Top 100 is already not far away…
He laughed about it a little prematurely. The time it took for Quentin Halys’ challenge to confirm that Arthur fils had indeed hit a sliced ace to seal a game that had been more than well conducted. Once again this week, the young Frenchman impressed with his maturity and mental stability. Add to that his explosive and attractive tennis and the temptation to get excited (at last) for the new generation of French players is very strong.
A MINI-BREAK AT THE BEGINNING AND FILS ESCAPED
Arthur Fils led his game like an old hand. He first answered his opponent’s question in a first set that was very much in the hands of the servers. Neither player had conceded a break point before the tiebreak, which was expected to be close. But it was not to be! With a remarkable long forehand passing shot on the first point after a remarkable defense, Fils took a mini-break lead and left a psychological mark on his opponent. Halys then went off the rails with his forehand, leaving the first set to his young compatriot.
Far from resting on his laurels, Fils went on to win the first 15 points of the second act (7-6, 3-0, 0/40), as the big boys often do once they are ahead in the score. And if the double break escaped him in the next game, he was able to calmly erase Halys’ only break point opportunity. Again, the way he did it was not insignificant: after committing three double faults in this game, he removed the danger with a long backhand missile.
AT THE FOOT OF THE SINNER MOUNTAIN
Son never panicked. He didn’t panic either when he had to save that break point or when he saw two first match points slip through his fingers at the restart (on powerful serves from Halys). The fourth attempt was the right one, with an ace, just like his childhood idol Roger Federer was so fond of delivering the coup de grace. In the semi-finals, the step will be even higher against Jannik Sinner.
The Italian also beat one of his compatriots, Lorenzo Sonego. The second seed of the tournament, he also made a strong impression to win in two sets (6-4, 6-2) and 1 hour and 35 minutes of play on the Patrice Dominguez court. The challenge for Son on Saturday will be immense, but this week, nothing seems out of reach.
In the other part of the draw, the No.1 seed, Holger Rune of Norway (world No.9), had to fight hard to get rid of Grégoire Barrère (No.75), who was beaten (7-6 , 7-6 ), to reach the semi-finals. Although the Frenchman showed great resilience, the recent winner of the Quimper Challenger finally gave up after a huge battle. It was his first quarter-final in three years.
Leave a Reply