ss
-->

Analysis: Is French tennis doomed or will it rise again?

Despite having a total of 18 experienced stars and talented Next-Gen players in Roland Garros 2021, no French men crossed the second round of the tournament. It turned out to be the worst performance in 53 years.

21 French men and women featured in the qualifiers at Roland Garros and not even one player made it to the main draw of the tournament. 

The popular quartet of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (36), Gilles Simon (36), Richard Gasquet (35), and Gael Monfils (34) is not a strong force on the ATP Tour anymore. They have suffered injuries and a significant dip in form leading to a high level of inconsistency. 

Tsonga, Simon, Gasquet and Monfils
Tsonga, Monfils, Simon, and Gasquet. Image Credits - Tennis.com

There are exciting times too for France in the future with a promising set of Next-Gen players. It comprises Hugo Gaston (20), Corentin Moutet (22), Evan Furness (22), Ugo Humbert (22), Alexandre Muller (24), and Arthur Rinderknech (25). 

SportCo analyzes how French tennis thrived from 2008 to 2016 and how the performances have faded in recent years (2017 to 2021)

Best Performances of veteran French men’s players from 2008 to 2016 

Year

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Gilles Simon

Gael Monfils

Richard Gasquet

2008Runner-up - Australian Open and stormed into the top 10 in the ATP rankings3rd round finishes in Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open and was World number 7Semifinals - French Open - lost to Federer in 4 sets and was defeated in Thailand Open semis by TsongaWon the Sydney International doubles and runner-up - Stuttgart Open - lost to del Potro
2009Quarters - Melbourne Park and won Shanghai ATP-1000 doubles titleQuarters - Melbourne Park, ranked No. 6 and won the PTT Thailand Open.Quarters - French Open, runner-up - Paris Masters, and entered top 10 rankingsSemifinals - Brisbane Open, Medibank Open, Sydney, and the Moselle Open
2010Semifinal - Australian Open and quarterfinal - WimbledonWon his 7th ATP singles title in the Metz Open and led France to Davis Cup FinalsQuarters - US Open, won his 3rd singles title Montpellier, and runner-up at Paris Masters againWon the Nice Open to clinch his 6th career title, and returned to the Top-10 of the rankings
2011Semis - Wimbledon, quarters - US Open, and became World number 6Won the Sydney International and the Hamburg OpenRunner-up Kooyong Classic, Quarters - French Open, and was No.7 in the ATP Rankings Crossed 250 wins on the ATP Tour, lost in 4th rounds - French Open - Djokovic, and to Murray - Wimbledon
2012Quarters - French Open, Semis - Wimbledon, and Silver Medal Doubles - London OlympicsCaptured the Bucharest Open title, his 10th career singles title. Reached two finals - Doha Open and Montpellier Open4th round jinx in all 4 grand slams, Runner-up - Estoril Open, and Bronze Medal Doubles - London Olympics
2013Quarters - Melbourne Park and Semis - French OpenWon the Moselle Open title beating Tsonga in the finalsRunner-up in the Nice Open and Winston-Salem OpenSemifinals - US Open and 2 titles - Doha Open and Montpellier Open
20144th round jinx in all 4 grand slams, won the Rogers Cup.Runner-up in Shanghai Masters - lost to FedererFinals - Doha Open and Quarters - French Open and US OpenRunner-up - Montpellier Open and the Aegon International
2015Semifinal - French Open and quarters - US Open, and back to Top 10Won 12th title - Marseille Open and Quarters - Wimbledon Finals - Marseille Open and Back to Top-15 of the ATP rankings Won the Montpellier Open and Semifinals - Wimbledon, back to Top-10 for 4th time
2016Quarters - Wimbledon - lost to Murray and US Open quarterfinals - defeated by DjokovicSemifinals - Shanghai Masters - lost to MurrayQuarterfinals - Australian Open and Semifinals - US Open, Monte Carlo finals, and became No.8 in rankingsWon the Montpellier Open for 4th time and Quarters - French Open - lost to Murray

How the French quartet of Tsonga, Simon, Monfils, and Gasquet flattered to deceive from 2017 to 2021?

Year

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Gilles Simon

Gael Monfils

Richard Gasquet

20171st Round - French Open and 2nd Round - US OpenA poor 16-25 win-loss record and was ranked outside the Top-50 for the 1st time in his career. 3rd Round - Wimbledon and US Open, progressed beyond Round of 16 only three times, dropped to 46 in rankings1st Round - Wimbledon and the US Open. Missed 3 ATP Masters tournaments -  due to an Appendicitis surgery
20183rd Round - Australian Open and missed the rest of the season - knee surgery, fell out of the top 2002nd Round - Australian Open - left thigh injury, and 2nd Round - US Open2nd Round exits - Australian Open and the US Open. 3rd Round - Australian, French, and the US Open. 1st Round exit - Wimbledon, suffered an abductor injury
20192nd Round - Australian and French Open, and 1st Round - US OpenLost in all 4 grand slams in the second round 2nd Round - Australian Open and 1st Round - WimbledonHernia surgery, 2nd Round - French Open, and 1st Round - Wimbledon and the US Open
20201st Round - Australian Open and did not play the rest of the season -  back injury2nd Round - Australian and US Open, and 1st Round - French OpenLost in 1st Round - French Open and did not play US Open1st Round - French Open and 2nd Round - US Open
20211st Round exits in 4 tournaments in a row1st Round - Australian Open and French Open1st Round - Australian Open and the 2nd Round - French OpenSecond Round - French Open and 1st Round exits in 3 tournaments

How have the French Next-Gen players upped their game from 2019 to 2021?

Year 

Hugo Gaston

Corentin Moutet

Evan Furness

Ugo Humbert

Alexandre Muller

Arthur Rinderknech

2019Won a Futures title, Italy, and reached 4 ITF Finals

Won the Chennai Challenger title and reached the Third Round, 

French Open 

Won ATP Challenger titles in Hong Kong and SwitzerlandWon the Cherbourg Challenger, reached the 4th Round - Wimbledon, beat Coric, Goffin, Monfils, and SinnerWon the Blois ATP Challenger Doubles title in June and runner-up in Glasgow Challenger in September Won 2 Montastir M15 ATP Challenger titles and clinched the Tabarka M15 ATP Challenger title
20204th Round - French Open - lost to Thiem in 5 setsBeat Wawrinka, Raonic, Evans, and reached the Third Round of the US OpenWon 3 ITF Tournaments in Greece in November 2020 (M15 Heraklion Series)Won the Auckland Open and the Antwerp Open, beat higher-ranked players, Ruud, Shapovalov, Isner, and FogniniPlayed qualifiers in Australian and French Open - semifinalist - Marbella and Ortisei ChallengerWon 2 Hardcourt ATP Challenger titles in France and Canada in January and March 2020 respectively
2021Runner-up Rome ATP Challenger in April and Semis in Cherbourg and Oeiras ChallengerSemis - Murray River Open and Quarterfinals - Estoril OpenWon ATP Challenger titles in Spain and Portugal in January and February this yearSemifinals - Marseille Open, Quarterfinals - Montpellier Open and Estoril OpenAustralian Open - Second Round, and semifinalist - Biella 5 Challenger Won the Istanbul Hardcourt ATP Challenger title in January and semis at Ostrava Challenger

What’s going wrong for the quartet of Tsonga, Simon, Monfils, and Gasquet in 2021?

Player Name

Biggest weakness this season

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

A poor win-loss record of 1-6, needs to improve his second serve win % - 51 and Return Games win % - 15.1

Gilles Simon

A below-par win-loss record of 2-10, has to concentrate on deciding sets win % - 50 and second serve win % - 48.7% 

Gael Monfils

An unsatisfactory 2-6 win-loss record, has to boost tiebreak win % - 55.2 and breakpoint conversion rate 39.4%

Richard Gasquet

Has won only 52.6% of deciding sets in 2021 and needs more consistency with 8 wins and 7 losses

Aspects where the Next-Generation of French tennis should focus in 2021?

Player NameAreas of Improvement
Hugo GastonNeeds to boost his win-loss record of 2-4, exited many ATP Challengers in the first round, has to work on second-serve win% (45 to 50%)
Corentin MoutetHas a 9-6 win-loss record this season, can win more matches with his two-handed backhand, must convert more breakpoints, and improve tiebreak win % of 54.5%
Evan FurnessMissed a spot in the main draw of the French Open after losing in 3rd round of qualifying, needs to reduce double fault count and increase breakpoint conversion
Ugo HumbertHas a disastrous 9-13 win-loss record in 2021, the southpaw has lost 6 out of his last 7 matches. Can strengthen his big serve to clinch more clashes
Alexandre MullerLost in 1st round of qualifying in the French Open, need to make his two-handed backhand more potent, can consider not playing doubles in ATP Challengers as it affects his performance in singles
Arthur RinderknechLost in 1st round of the French Open, lacks consistency with a 5-5 win-loss record this season, needs to boost first serve win % of 60 which has been a trend in his losses. 

Wrapping Up

The famed French quartet of Tsonga, Simon, Monfils, and Gasquet share an impressive 57 ATP titles between them. With their days numbered due to inconsistency and injuries, the Next-Gen has to take over the mantle now. 

 to

The French tennis fans are awaiting a new champion after Yannick Noah won Roland Garros way back in 1983 (38 years ago). While tennis players from France always have athleticism and shot-making skills, they are not able to handle the pressure of big matches. They also lose from strong positions against higher-ranked players.

“Of course it is the end of an era (Myself, Tsonga, Simon, and Monfils), we are there, it is incredible for us to play Roland Garros, we are a great generation, yeah, we need more players to come, hope it will be the same for the French future,” said Gasquet after his straight-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the second round.   

"I am convinced that the young players we have now, the 16-18-year-olds, probably within one to three years will take up the baton, we have had lows and we have bounced back,” opined Guy Forget, French Open tournament director, sounding confident about French tennis in the years to come.  

Undoubtedly, France is no longer the powerhouse on the global tennis map and the likes of Russia, Italy, and Spain have taken over. 

The Federation Francaise de Tennis (FTF) will have to work from the grassroots to take French tennis back to its glory days. The young messieurs will have to play fearlessly to prevent their nation from falling into a big mess.

Featured Image Credits - Eurosport

Leave a Reply