Pouille Bounces Back In Cincinnati
Lucas Pouille has experienced incredible highs and difficult lows this season, but the Frenchman is on another upward swing by reaching the quarter-finals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
His three-set win over Karen Khachanov on Thursday marked his first Top 10 win in nearly three years. The Frenchman’s serve and backhand became more potent as the match wore on, enabling him to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final since the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
“I haven’t played very well in a Masters 1000 for awhile,” said Pouille. “I’m happy to have the chance to play Novak. I’m feeling very well, trying to focus on my game and going step by step.”
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Pouille’s year started out with his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, but wins have been rare since then. He arrived in Cincinnati with a 7-13 record since his magical run in Melbourne and just one other ATP Tour quarter-final to his name.
But even during his rough stretch, Pouille still recorded high-profile wins over Daniil Medvedev and Borna Coric. He credited his coach, former WTA World No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, with helping him through challenging weeks and maintaining belief that his flashy game would click for multiple matches in a row again.
“She has the experience and knows how to deal with it,’ he explained. “It’s never easy when you lose some matches in a row, but you just have to keep working hard and keep believing, keep going on the court being sure that one day it will pay off. Even if I lose tomorrow or win tomorrow, you have to go back and practise the next day. Hard work always pays off.”
The hard work is indeed paying off for Pouille, who now faces top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic. When they met this year in the Australian Open semi-finals, Pouille only managed four games. But when they step on Stadium Court, the memories of Melbourne will be erased and Pouille will have belief that he can pull off the upset.
“My part of the draw is not open,” said Pouille, cracking a smile. “But everyone has their chances, I’m just trying to focus on my performance.”