#NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet was within reach of the best Grand Slam showing of his young career. But the 20-year-old couldn’t quite tip his head over the line.
Moutet led 19th seed Guido Pella 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 5-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Roland Garros. The packed crowd at Court 7 was ready to guide Moutet to the third round and help him become the youngest Frenchman to make the Round of 32 in Paris since Gael Monfils in 2006.
Pella, however, this season’s clay-court wins leader, played with nothing to lose, breaking twice and making it 5-5. Moutet, however, settled his nerves, held and then broke to avoid a deciding set against the 29-year-old left-hander.
“You don’t have much margin against these players. They are excellent players, and when you’re a bit down, it’s very fast. So he did a bit more; I did a bit less,” Moutet said.
“In my mind, I knew what I had to do. I tried not to panic. I tried to stay in the game… I realised at five-all I had to do more and I wanted to be in the front, and that was successful and that was nice.”
Pella said he never could find his best tennis against Moutet, and credited the home crowd with pushing the 20-year-old to his best result of the year.
“To play a French guy in Roland Garros is much different than maybe playing in another tournament because they love to play here. The crowd is very special for them,” Pella said. “He didn’t have anything to lose, and I think he played that way.”
For the second year in a row, Moutet is playing some of his best tennis at his home Slam. Last year, Moutet won his first Grand Slam match in Paris, beating Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
This year, Moutet, No. 110 in the ATP Rankings, will play for a place in the Round of 16. He’ll face Argentine and Cordoba Open champion Juan Ignacio Londero, who’s also playing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
“I have one match to win before being in the second week… I work every day to win matches, to play these tournaments against top players,” Moutet said.
His nerves under pressure have landed him here, a trait that will come in handy later this year if Moutet makes his debut at the fast-paced Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
Last week, in Lyon, Moutet won his first tour-level match of the season, saving two match points against big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who led 6/4 in the third-set tie-break. Moutet, however, navigated his way through the tie-break to advance 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(10).
He made life much easier to start in Paris, advancing in straight sets against Russian qualifier Alexey Vatutin.
Moutet works with Emmanuel Planque, the former longtime coach of Australian Open semi-finalist and World No. 26 Lucas Pouille of France. Moutet said Planque provides the discipline he needs to succeed on the ATP Tour.
“He’s very demanding, and I need that. So we work a lot, also with my [physio], and we work hard and regularly,” Moutet said. “What is important is to work hard and to be consistent. We do the job every day, and whatever happens in this tournament will continue whether I win or I lose.
“We try not to be influenced by victories or defeats and try to continue working on a daily basis and do things well.”
It could be a French invasion at the Next Gen ATP Finals, which will host the world’s best 21-and-under players from 5-9 November. Moutet is currently in ninth place in the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players, and his countryman Ugo Humbert, 20, is one spot ahead of him.
At Roland Garros, however, Moutet, alone, is still representing France’s #NextGenATP.