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He looks down at everyone. Not because of condescension towards his opponents, but because of his height: 1.95m at only sixteen years old! Gabriel Debru is one of the greatest hopes of French tennis. He will play, on Friday, June 3, a semifinal of the youth tournament of Roland Garros vs. Croatian Dino Prizmic, seeded n°10. The Grenoble Tennis Club licensee is the latest Tricolore in the race to succeed Luca Van Assche, winner in 2021.
And this is not his first feat. On May 16, he became the youngest player to win a qualifying round for a Grand Slam tournament since Bernard Tomic at the Australian Open in 2008, winning against Arthur Fils Porte d’Auteuil. Enough to fill her with confidence just before his second appearance in the junior draw. The young man has been wandering around the 18-and-under competition ever since, and has been sailing smoothly since his entry into the competition last Sunday: he has not dropped a set in his four games played.
His first feat among the greats, a Challenger tournament in Roanne, on November 9, 2021. Still not in the ATP ranking, Debru then faces the 220th in the world, the Italian Andrea Pellegrino, in the first round. To everyone’s surprise, he was the winner of a three-set duel (4-6, 6-2, 6-3) and offered, at only fifteen years and ten months, his first points on the main circuit.
With this first round spent in the Loire, he became the fourth youngest player in the century to play a round in a Challenger tournament and, at this time, the only player under the age of 16 to appear in the world top 1000. In a few months he was climbing the levels one by one until he reached 780th place in the world ranking before Roland-Garros. “I train hard every week to improve and I think I have already improved.summed up the interested party after his easy victory in the quarterfinals of the junior tournament on Thursday against the Slovakian Privara (6-1, 6-2).
“I don’t rest on my achievements. I hope to do better and better. I work physically and tennis every week. It’s very difficult, but I’m holding on so I can be better every day. I’m going to continue to train very hard so I can reach my dreams.”gabriel debru
on franceinfo: sport after their Roland-Garros juniors quarterfinals on June 2, 2022
The 18th seed in the men’s tournament can count on tricks in his game, his cannon shots and serves exceed 200 km/h, his game intelligence and his ease mark, both in his two-handed backhand and in his bomb forehand . The right-hander also hurts his opponents with his mobility by not hesitating to finish off the point at the net with a certain touchdown. “You need a fairly high level of energy on the court, but you shouldn’t fall into excitement either”explain one of his coaches at the Grenoble club, Stéphane de Choudens.
Often during the match, especially during game-turning points, the player in the cap turns to his clan, clenching his fist. “He also comes to look for energy outside”specifies Stéphane de Choudens.
Dreams, Isèrois is full of them and wants to aim high. Since he started playing tennis at the age of five, the player of the 2005 generation (he was born on December 21), has not stopped growing. “At that age, there is everything you still need to progress”, however, warns his coach. He adds : “We have youngsters who are very talented, but there are other ingredients that you have to have. And I think that mentally, Gabriel is strong, he shows it anyway because he knows how to take responsibility.”
For Paul-Henri Mathieu, senior director of the French Tennis Federation, who attended the quarterfinals of the French hope, there is still a long way to go: “againstIt is a pride that young talents emerge and obviously it is It’s always good to see several youngsters go far in tournaments. But this is not an end. We know that many things can still happen until the arrival on the professional circuit.
With his performances, the young man from Grenoble arouses curiosity. The captain of the French Davis Cup team, Sébastien Grosjean, was even one of the few spectators present on court 14 for the young prospect’s demonstration. “I am going to see all the French players, we are seeing everywhere”outlined the technician in the bays of Roland-Garros.
Gabriel Debru is not yet known to the general public, but he has the ambition, through his performances on the courts, to become one. To get to know him better, his trainer Stéphane de Choudens suggests focusing on the behavior of his protégé. “We see many things on the court of a personality, of someone. We feel that he is a player, we feel that he likes to create”smiles the TC Grenoble technician. He likes to adapt to situations, he likes to feel the moments of the game.”
“We feel like he’s generous. He’s generous in effort and that’s what he is on the outside as well.”Stephane de Choudens
on franceinfo: the sport behind Gabriel Debru’s victory in the junior Roland-Garros quarterfinals
His serenity is also striking. The soberly nicknamed “Gaby” shows no negative emotion on his youthful face, be it during a match or during his media solicitations. “Expectations, there are, I think, for everyone, for each professional and each one manages them in their own way.Analyze the interested Now I try to give my best on the pitch, to get the best possible result on the pitch. I just want to give it my all and satisfy myself.”
To do this, the young man detaches himself as much as possible from everything that can be said around him and can count in particular on his family and his older brother, Mathis, also a tennis player. Gabriel Debru says more: “I get into a bubble, you have to know how to protect yourself because if you listen to everything that is said you can quickly get lost. I am very focused on my training, my tournaments and I know that my family allows me. to rest the mind after the games. The appointment is made for the slender Grenoble who has everything to make himself even bigger.