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WATCH: Lucas Pouille celebrates with baby daughter after qualifying for Roland Garros
The former Top 10 player has had a long road back to the big stage.
Published May 26, 2023
WATCH: Earlier this year, Lucas Pouille was featured on The Break as he plotted his return to tennis.
Fall down seven times, stand up eight: The qualifying tournament at Grand Slams is often a stage for some of tennis' most heartwarming moments, and this year at Roland Garros, the main character is former Top 10 player Lucas Pouille.
The former world No. 10, now down to No. 670 in the ATP rankings, beat Austria's Jurij Rodionov on Thursday 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 to book a spot in a major main draw for the first time in exactly a year.
With three wins this week, it's the first time that Pouille has won back-to-back matches at any level since September of 2021.
Tennis fans might remember that Pouille burst onto the scene as a 22-year-old in 2016, when he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the US Open, beating Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the latter.
It was anything but smooth sailing after that: After he reached the Top 10 in 2018 and reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2019, a right elbow issue flared up, and he returned to the tour in 2021 after having surgery for the injury in 2020. Last year, he fractured his rib at the start of the grass court season, and he was off the tour until the start of 2023.
As his ranking plummeted, Pouille struggled with depression and alcohol use, and opened up to French newspaper L’Equipe earlier this year about his lowest points.
“I started to have a darker side and go into a depression that led me, after Roland Garros, in England, to sleep only one hour a night and drink alone,” he said.
“It was impossible to close my eyes. ... I was in a bad phase. And I made the decision to say stop. Otherwise, I would have ended up in Sainte-Anne, at the crazy house. For my mental health, I had to stop.”
It was that context, as well as his post-victory celebration, that made Pouille Paris' must-see attraction over the last few days, as the French public flocked to his matches to cheer their man on.
The best moment of Pouille's Thursday triumph, though, came after the match, as he celebrated his achievement with his 2-year-old daughter, Rose.
With Rose in his arms, Pouille was captured by cameras running through a celebratory off-court tunnel of Roland Garros ball kids.
Pouille also came from a set down in his second-round qualifying win, and knocked off talented young Czech Tomas Machac to begin the week. He'll find out where he lands in the main draw on Friday, after qualifying concludes.
But whatever happens next, it's obvious that the Frenchman's already won.