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Frenchman Jurgen Briand turns movie dreams into tennis reality

Previously best known for his role in a French tennis film, the 23-year-old beat Richard Gasquet in France on Tuesday

Jurgen Briand Jurgen Briand, the French player who made cinema | © Panoramic / Tennis Majors

Jurgen Briand might have thought he was in a movie on Tuesday at the Open de Vendée, but it was reality.

The 23-year-old Frenchman, ranked 487th, achieved the greatest feat of his young career by defeating French tennis legend Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5. It was his first victory in the Challenger Tour category, a moment he will remember for the rest of his life.

“Tonight, even I was supporting Richard,” said the 23-year-old, with a smile, after the match, according to Ouest France. “I am in heaven, the happiest man in the world. I applied what my coaches advised me: to serve well, to be offensive, to commit to his forehand, to cover mine well. It’s extraordinary.”

Unaccustomed to being in the spotlight, Briand is nevertheless used to the cameras. His face may look familiar, and that’s normal, because Jurgen Briand was in the film 5th Set, which was released in June 2021. The film tells the story of Thomas, played by Alex Lutz, a former tennis hopeful who never lived up to his expectations and who is playing in his last French Open.

Briand on his acting role: “A wonderful experience”

In the film, directed by Quentin Reynaud, whom we hosted on the set of our show “The French Insider” during Roland-Garros 2020 and starring British actress Kristin Scott Thomas, Jurgen Briand plays the role of Damien Thosso, the new French tennis prodigy who will play in the first round against Thomas, the hero of the film.

“It’s a wonderful experience, even if the pressure is totally different from that of the matches. The filming hours are not those of the usual matches. We often shot at sunset. The whole team wanted to do well and I think we were good,” the 23-year-old told Ouest France in March 2022.

“Some people recognise me in France. But I am not the most famous man on the planet. Kids come to see me in tennis clubs, it’s nice.”

Briand, who controlled his own destiny on Tuesday at the Open de Vendée, is guaranteed to be at least 461st in the world next week, his highest ranking to date.

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