MELBOURNE, Australia — At the start of this year’s Australian Open, the French tennis player Lucas Pouille was a man severely overlooked.
He had come to Melbourne, after all, on the heels of a 2018 season that dripped with disappointing losses, trying more than anything else to simply recapture a sense of joy on the court.
Expectations? Any that existed were extremely slim, Pouille said, as he looked back Wednesday on a tournament that now stands as the most thrilling of his seven-year career. Slim, from those on the outside looking in, he said, and “even from myself.”
But in the world of professional tennis, slim expectations can grow Grand Slam fat with remarkable speed. They certainly have this week for Pouille. On Wednesday afternoon at Melbourne Park, the Frenchman moved into his first Grand Slam semifinal with a sharp 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic of Canada, the lumbering former Wimbledon finalist with the massive serve who was seeded 16th.
Pouille, who had never won an Australian Open match before last week, now faces a nearly impossible task. The final is within his reach. But to get there he must beat Novak Djokovic, who currently rules men’s tennis with an iron grip.
Not long after Pouille and Raonic left Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic breezed into the final four, his quarterfinal match done in just 52 minutes when the eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori, of Japan, retired with a leg injury. Djokovic led by 6-1, 4-1 at the time, and had never been pushed. It was a gift. A match that short and stress free will help Djokovic, seeking his seventh Australian Open title, keep his body fresh at the stage in this tournament when he most needs it, especially since he had struggled through a bruising, four-set win over Daniil Medvedev earlier this week.
Pouille, 24 years old and seeded 28th, burst onto the scene in 2016, with quarterfinal showings at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where he beat Nadal.
Last season, however, was tennis purgatory. True, his ranking did rise briefly to a career-high No. 10 in March. But he also failed to get past the third round of any of the major championships. He lost to players ranked outside the top 100. And as the year ended, he suffered through a string of early tournament defeats.
“I lost that joy being on the court,” he said, reflecting on last year after his quarterfinal match, which he won behind strong serving and a steady dose of returns that left the 6-5 Raonic off balance. “For some reason, I don’t know really know why it happened. I t did. You lose one match, two matches, three matches, then you lose confidence.”
Searching for a solution, he last month replaced his old coach with Amélie Mauresmo, the 39-year-old former pro who is a hero in France because of her pair of Grand Slam singles titles and because she is the last French player, male of female, to reach world No. 1.
Other top male players are coached by a woman, but those female coaches are relatives. Pouille’s arrangement with Mauresmo continues to be a story line, even though Mauresmo has coached men before, notably Britain’s Andy Murray, whom she guided to the Melbourne final in 2015.
“Men are coaching women, so why not the contrary?” Pouille said at his news conference. “It’s not about being a man or a woman, it’s about knowing tennis, about having the good state of mind.”
He summed up the ways that Mauresmo has helped him turn a corner. She creates “a cool atmosphere,” he explained. “We’re not too serious. We can laugh. We can make jokes. Once we go and hit the balls, we are really into it.”
In other words, balance.
And more: “I think she’s bringing a lot of confidence to my game.”
Pouille will need every ounce of cool confidence, and likely the best tennis of his life, if he is to beat Djokovic on a packed center court stadium Friday.
Will Pouille be overlooked once again?
Not a chance, said Djokovic. “I always thought he’s a great player,” the Serb told the assembled reporters in the wake of his own quarterfinal win.
Pouille “deserves to be definitely at the top 15, maybe top 10 of the world,” Djokovic added. “He’s got that quality and potential, no question about it. Here we go. It’s the semifinals. We both want to get to the finals. Hopefully we can both be fresh and fit and put on the great show.”B:
【随】【着】【更】【加】【深】【入】【的】【了】【解】，【白】【羽】【凡】【和】【赵】【无】【极】【对】【于】【绿】【莎】【的】【身】【世】【了】【解】【的】【也】【更】【加】【清】【晰】【透】【彻】。 【按】【照】【绿】【莎】【所】【说】【的】【来】【看】【的】【话】，【那】【么】【这】【个】【和】【外】【面】【近】【乎】【一】【样】【的】【巨】【大】【森】【林】【此】【时】【只】【剩】【下】【绿】【莎】【这】【一】【个】【绿】【精】【灵】【族】【的】【族】【人】。 【至】【于】【绿】【莎】【现】【在】【年】【龄】【到】【有】【多】【大】，【这】【个】【她】【说】【她】【也】【记】【不】【清】【了】，【她】【的】【生】【活】【也】【十】【分】【单】【调】，【每】【天】【除】【了】【修】【炼】，【就】【是】【探】【查】【这】【整】【片】【森】【林】。
“【你】【找】【死】——”【纸】【流】【握】【紧】【拳】【头】，【就】【欲】【朝】【梦】【起】【脑】【门】【上】【砸】【过】【去】。 【一】【旁】，【蜥】【部】【族】【族】【人】【眼】【疾】【手】【快】【忙】【把】【人】【拉】【住】。【醒】【过】【来】【的】【族】【人】，【纷】【纷】【上】【前】【拉】【住】【人】【没】【敢】【松】【开】【拉】【着】【纸】【流】【的】【手】。【纸】【流】【是】【蜥】【部】【族】【天】【赋】【最】【好】【的】【年】【轻】【人】，【性】【格】【火】【爆】【冲】【动】。【还】【真】【没】【几】【个】【人】【约】【束】【得】【了】？！ 【梦】【起】【冷】【笑】【两】【声】，【嘲】【讽】【道】：“【打】，【你】【朝】【这】【里】【打】……” 【梦】【起】【咧】【嘴】【露】【出】