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Moutet : “I’m trying to become a lucky winner, not a lucky loser”

Corentin Moutet, first lucky loser to ever reach the US Open last 16, believes he can continue his run against fifth-seeded Casper Ruud on Sunday in New York

Corentin Moutet, 2022 Corentin Moutet, 2022 | © Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

French southpaw Corentin Moutet is having the best run of his career in a major tournament, reaching the fourth round at the US Open. Moutet lost in the last round of the qualification against China’s Yibing Wu before taking a place in the main draw as a lucky loser, where his stylish brand of tennis was too good for Stan Wawrinka, Botic van de Zandschulp and Pedro Cachin.

The 23-year-old Paris native, currently ranked 112, is the first Lucky Loser to reach the round of 16 in US Open men’s singles history.

His three victories in New York will allow him to be back in the Top 100 and edge closer to his best ATP ranking (67). Currently he sits at 82 in the ATP live rankings.

Tennis Majors had a chat with the famous “Tornado”, winner of UTS4 in May 2021, on Friday night in Flushing Meadows. He is the last Frenchman in the US Open draw after Richard Gasquet fell to Rafael Nadal on Saturday night in New York.

You are the first lucky loser to ever reach the round of 16 at the US Open. How does it feel?

Corentin Moutet : Nice, I’m trying to become a lucky winner, instead of a lucky loser. It was a chance for me to be a lucky loser, I didn’t do anything for that. They just told me I can play again. So I had to catch my chances and try my best to win a few more matches here.

Do you like New York in general? Playing at the US Open?

Corentin Moutet : Yes, so much. The last two years were tough with the Covid situation. It was pretty tough here, but it’s an amazing city. I’m from Paris, so it’s so much different, it’s a big city but it’s so much different. I really like to be here. It’s a different atmosphere from Europe, and it’s nice to be here, I like the US.

Corentin Moutet, US Open 2022
Corentin Moutet, US Open 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Your game is creative and you're a musician as well. You’re an artist and you’re always looking for inspiration. New York must be cool for you.

Corentin Moutet : Yes, I’m here for tennis but it’s a long season to play every week, practice every week, so it’s always nice to enjoy where I’m staying. I went to so many countries and I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and to try to catch the vibe from where I am.

I can’t know if I will be better than him or if he will be better —I have no idea, I’ve never played him before.

Corentin Moutet on Casper Ruud

You said earlier that the level on tour from qualies to the top of the tour is not that different. Does that mean you feel you have a shot against Casper Ruud?

Corentin Moutet : Of course, if I didn’t believe in myself I wouldn’t play. I would say, ‘Okay, you’re better. I don’t even have to be on court and get tired.’ I believe in myself, and I will try to play my best tennis and try to find some solutions when I will be on court and let’s see how it goes. I can’t know if I will be better than him or if he will be better —I have no idea, I’ve never played him before. So I just have to try my best and see how it goes.

Is it a relief to hit the round of 16 and pick up points and get back into the Top100?

Corentin Moutet : I knew that I would be back in the Top 100 for sure, because I have been working hard for it. I just didn’t know when it would be. It can take time. You lose matches to better opponents, but I knew that I would be there one day again for sure, because I was in the past and I’m a better player than I was in the past when I was in the Top 100, so it was just a question of time. In Grand Slams I know that there are a lot of points so it can be faster. I was supposed to play a Challenger next week in Europe so it’s less points and more matches to play to get there so it’s really nice to have this chance.

Why would you say you are a better player than you were in the past? What are the improvements you are making?

Corentin Moutet : I just work. I have two more years of experience in me. I did 500 more practices, so it’s normal, I’m a better player and I have progressed in every part of my game. So yes, it’s normal.

It’s not often that I’m proud of myself, I always wait for more, but when I played Nadal, I said to myself, ‘Okay, I can be proud.’

Corentin Moutet

How good was the experience of facing Rafa in your home city at Roland-Garros? It must have been amazing.

Corentin Moutet : It was unreal. I was always talking about it with my coach because I missed this match two years ago, in 2020. I lost in five sets in the third round [against Juan Ignacio Londero] to play Rafa after. I was still thinking about it.

When he was injured I was like, ‘C’mon, don’t retire, I have to play against you before you retire!’ To play him, you have to be in his draw and you have to win matches, so I had to be lucky a little bit. Then I played Stan [Wawrinka] which is not easy at all so I thought this time it’s maybe my last chance to play him, so when I won the match I was so happy to play against him.

Centre Court, Paris, that’s why I started tennis. I was watching him, I was sleeping with his t-shirt when he was winning his first Roland-Garros. It was crazy. I am never like this. Normally I am not satisfied with where I am because I always want more, but this time I was with my coaches and I said, ‘C’mon, let’s take five minutes and
recognise this. We are all coming from the same place when we were five or six.’ And then I was there.

I’m lucky and I did really well. I should be proud of myself. It’s not often that I’m proud of myself, even if I am doing everything, I always wait for more, and this time I said to myself, ‘Okay, I can be proud.’

Rafael Nadal and Corentin Moutet, Roland-Garros 2022
Rafael Nadal and Corentin Moutet, Roland-Garros 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

What do you want out of your career? Where do you want to go from here?

Corentin Moutet : I just want to have a good career, do my best. As I said we can’t know where I will be, Top 50, Top 10, I have no idea. I will just try my best. I want at the end of my career for people to recognise and remember me as a good fighter, that I tried my best all my career, with some good moments and good results. And let’s see how it goes. I have no idea. Of course we all want to be No 1 and win 20 Slams but we can’t decide.

Does it make it more special to be here with Rafa going for 23 and Serena at the end of her career trying to make more history?

Corentin Moutet : I would like to say yes but all the Slams are the same. They are all winning all the Slams, so it’s the same everywhere. I love all the Slams. They are in amazing cities. Australia is completely on the other side of the world. Paris is my home. They are different for many reasons. I just enjoy it.

So do you have any time for fun in New York, and if so, what do you do?

Corentin Moutet : Just walking in the streets it’s enough for me. I just like it. People here are different than in Europe. I like to see how people are living in every city that I visit. Just to see how it is. There is always something to take from people when you watch. Some people are doing some things smarter than we are doing and it’s nice to observe them living.

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