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“Don’t be afraid of anyone, that’s the way my parents taught me”: Arthur Fils chases his dreams

Arthur Fils is progressing fast and sets no limits for himself. The 18-year-old player does not lack ambitions and makes it clear

Arthur Fils Arthur Fils (JB Autissier / Panoramic)

A dictionary definition of ambition might run as follows: “A burning desire to possess something, to achieve something”. Example on the ATP circuit: Arthur Fils, who displayed an American-style mentality, confident, sure of himself, after eliminating Roberto Bautista-Agut in Montpellier.

“Don’t be afraid of anyone, that’s the way my parents raised me,” said the current world No 163. “I don’t put any limits on myself (in terms of ranking), I play well, I progress, the ranking follows, if I can go Top 10 at the end of the year, I will go Top 10 at the end of the year.”

At the beginning of 2022, he was outside the top 600. Skipping stages doesn’t scare him.

Arthur Fils’ successful pre-season

Fils is progressing quickly and well: as a junior, he liked to finish the exchange quickly, too often confusing speed with haste. This Wednesday, to win against a player as consistent as Bautista Agut, he had to fight on every point, be solid in the exchanges and not run away from the physical battle.

Arthur Fils, Montpellier 2023
Arthur Fils, Montpellier 2023 | © JB Auissier / Panoramic

“I’ve made a lot of progress in this pre-season,” said the 18-year-old. “For four years I was with Jerome Pottier, he trained me and it went really well. Now with Laurent Raymond (Corentin Moutet’s former coach), it’s a new collaboration that is going very well, he helps me in the tactical and mental areas and that helps me pass a milestone.”

Another big change this off-season is his collaboration with Francisca Dauzet, Daniil Medvedev’s former mental trainer and now in charge of the department at the FFT.

“I’ve been working with her since the beginning of the year and it’s been working well. She helps me to manage the important moments during the matches, to breathe, to be clear-headed and focused.”

Faced with so much honesty and ambition, a colleague couldn’t help but let out a “that’s good for French tennis” in the press room of the Sud de France Arena.

In 2023, Fils won 11 of the 12 matches he played, winning his first Challenger in Oeiras, reaching the final in Quimper in the process, and beating Gasquet and Bautista Agut back-to-back in his second ATP tournament.

Arthur Fils talks about his room for improvement

“I can still progress everywhere,” he knows. “I can serve better, return better, attack better, be more solid, I still have a lot of work to do…

“I’m also working on my footwork with my physical trainer, I enjoy going fast on the court, I like to run, move quickly forward but it’s a pretty natural quality, I’m working on it but it doesn’t make much difference to me whether I work on it or not. Either way, I’m always fast,” he added with a smile.

Thanks to his results in the Hérault, Fils now rises in the rankings past the man who beat him in the final of Roland Garros junior in 2021, his pal Luca Van Assche, now 145th and beaten by Huesler in Montpellier. He trains regularly with his friend at the National Training Centre and it was with him that he twice won the Galéa-Valerio Cup, the Davis Cup for juniors.

Fils and van Assche at Roland-Garros in 2021 (Chryslene Caillaud / Panoramic)

“There is no rivalry with Luca (Van Assche), it’s very healthy, it’s a positive competition. I’m happy when he wins, he sent me a message when I won, we both pull each other up and I hope that we both go very high and play very well.”

Arthur Fils’ role models

By surpassing his friend, he becomes the highest-ranked man born in 2004 (141st in the live rankings), a status that doesn’t impact him too much.

“I try to detach myself from it. When I see Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune (both born in 2003), all these guys, winning Grand Slams, making finals, I say to myself that Top 150 is good but it’s not the biggest thing at the moment.”

The Spaniard and the Dane, a year older than Fils, serve as his benchmark.

“When you see Carlos (Alcaraz) winning the US Open playing great, you think you can do the same, you try to do the same and they are examples, you try to make the best of it. It’s a source of motivation.”

Laurent Raymond’s protégé also has other, slightly older but no less accomplished role models.

“My idol was Federer but when you’re older, you enjoy watching Nadal play more and more, his mental, his way of fighting … These are players who have 22 Grand Slams [20 for Federer – ed.]. I’ll try to do the same to at least try to win one, two or three, they are examples.”

A dictionary definition of the future: “Situation, fate of someone in the time to come, evolution, destiny of something”. Example on the ATP circuit: Arthur Fils.

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