His first name is as well known around the world as he is anonymous on the circuit. But Tuesday in Antwerp was his heyday. The young Belgian Zizou Bergs excited the 1,500 or so spectators allowed in the Lotto Arena. Invited by the organization of the tournament, the 528th player in the world perfectly seized the first opportunity given to him to play a match on the ATP circuit. He achieved a superb feat by offering himself the scalp of the Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas, 45th at ATP, in two sets (7-5, 7-5) and 1h42 of play.
In these times troubled by the coronavirus, there is something refreshing about witnessing the intense joy of Zizou Bergs. Especially since his good fortune, the native of Lommel owes it in part … to the epidemic. He was thus reassigned the wildcard first intended for his compatriot Ruben Bemelmans who had to forfeit after a positive test for covid-19. Subscriber to Futures tournaments and to the secondary circuit – the best ranking of his career is a 386th place in the world reached in December 2018 – the 21-year-old player did not miss the exceptional chance by definition which was offered to him.
The misfortune of some makes the happiness of others
“I had to play in Slovakia. It’s a shame for Ruben who tested positive. It was already a dream to be able to play this first round thanks to this wildcard“, he testified. Thanks to this state of mind, Bergs was able to keep a cool head, despite the many twists and turns of the game: quickly leading 3-0, he saw his opponent come back before making the break in the 12th game to win the first set. In the process, he pushed his advantage by delighting the opponent’s service from the start in the second act, before conceding 4 games in a row and finding himself in a bad position in this round (7-5, 2-4).
But he hung on and finally made the game run for the last time, winning 5 of the last 6 games. This ability to not let go, he also drew from the frustrations of his previous participations in the tournament. Bergs had never been out of qualifying before, but he hadn’t had much luck in the draw: in 2016, 2017 and 2018, he lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Stéfanos Tsitsipas and Félix Auger respectively. -Aliassime in the 1st qualifying round. Against the Canadian, he even had two match points before lowering the flag in the tie-break of the 3rd set.
“I learned from my experiences and continued to fight. Today (Tuesday, note), I played my own game. It was a very good game. I was training well, I felt in good shape. I knew I could play at his level“, also confided the ecstatic Belgian. He therefore offered himself the right to perform again in front of an audience committed to his cause and of which he became the darling.
Zizou Bergs in Antwerp in 2020
Credit: Getty Images
Zizou’s challenge? Make a name
Beyond the sensation linked to his ranking, the player is used to it, his first name arouses curiosity. Born in June 1999, less than a year after the success of the Blues and Zinédine Zidane at the 1998 World Cup, logic would have it so called in tribute to the French playmaker. But if his father admired Zidane, he would have had the idea to give this original name to his son, inspired by a game in amateur football training of passing the ball between the legs of the opponent. . This fun exercise was apparently nicknamed “Zizou”.
Bergs has, in any case, found his way into tennis. And when you know the difficulties of the players on the secondary circuit, it’s a safe bet that he enjoys every minute spent in the spotlight in Antwerp. In the second round, he will discover what facing a Top 20 player means against Karen Khachanov. Sure, he will have nothing to lose. What to allow oneself to pursue the dream? If so, Zizou would definitely make a name for himself on the circuit.