Clara Burel, foam balls at Roland’s second week?

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If there is satisfaction in this very gray fortnight for French tennis, it is due to the emergence of some new talents. Hugo Gaston among men. Clara Burel in women. At 20 and 19, this “couple” who won the gold medal in mixed doubles at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 offers little hope of renewal while the generational hollow is emerging, especially on the male side. Both had never won a Grand Slam match before this Roland Garros. The first is already in the round of 16, and the second will try to join him.

The young Rennaise will play for a place in the round of 16 on Saturday. She has already signed a small feat by becoming the first French player since 1985 to reach the 3rd round of Roland-Garros from her first participation. “Since the start of the week, it’s been a bit crazy what’s going on. I wasn’t necessarily expecting it“, she admitted Thursday. She discovers certain” obligations “, like answering hot on the court at the microphone.”It’s still difficult for the moment to really describe the emotions“, she almost apologizes.

Clara Burel during her second round match at Roland-Garros 2020

Credit: Getty Images

I was lucky to have recovered very well after the operation

If her talent, her very pure ball strike and her tennis all in variation have been known for some time now, the emergence of Clara Burel in this Roland-Garros did not flow from source. Because she still appears very far in the standings (she was 357th when she arrived in Paris), and she has come a long way. After a busy 2018 for juniors with two major finals in Australia and at the US Open, his orbit for the big guys looked like a false start last year. The fault, above all, to a nasty injury to the wrist which forced her to go to the pool table and lose several months.

Just a year ago, Burel started his rehabilitation. When she resumed training, it was by tapping on foam balls. “We took our time, explains the Frenchwoman. We tried to do things as well as possible, that the recovery went as well as possible, that I could resume tennis 100%. I started with the foam balls, we took it really easy. And finally everything went really well, I had no pain from the start. I was lucky to have recovered very well after the operation.”

Twelve months later, here she is on the verge of playing a match likely to open the doors to the second week of a Grand Slam tournament. Yet her wrist remains a subject, if not of concern, at least of attention. More a sword of Damocles than a permanent stab: “It’s behind me but I still have to be extra careful. I have to take care of my wrist regularly. Afterwards, on the backhand, I think I’m starting to free myself completely. I don’t know if it’s still 100%, but I think it’s starting.”

Revenge against Zhang

Clara Burel also benefits from a heavy workload during the power cut in the spring, at home in Brittany. Thierry Champion, high-level manager at the FFT, came to take care of her when she left confinement. “It’s true that we really had a good month of training for the resumption of tennis, she judges. It allowed me to work a little more on my game, and to take a little more time, to work on more things, things that I wasn’t necessarily used to working on. We had a lot of time to prepare before the resumption of matches, and I think it was beneficial to me.”

In any case, it magnificently makes the wild card granted by the organization bear fruit. Guaranteed to jump more than 100 places in the WTA rankings even in the event of a defeat on Saturday, she will enter the 200 world firsts if she wins against the Chinese Zhang Shuai. If this Roland Garros is that of revelation, it is also that of all revenges for the protégé of Alexia Dechaume. Thursday, she tamed the Slovenian Kaja Juvan, who had dominated her in the final of the Youth Olympic Games.

His defeat against Zhang is much fresher, since it dates back to the Strasbourg tournament, no later than last week. She had bowed 6-3, 7-6. “It was a very close matchremembers Clara Burel. I had two set points. It’s an advantage because I know her, but she knows me too! It is true that here, few people know me when I enter the field. She, she will have the advantage of knowing who I am. “At this rate, everyone could very quickly find out who she is.



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