The future of French tennis looks brighter than ever as four home favourites lined up for the boys' singles semi-finals on Friday, making it the first time in history a quartet of French youngsters competed in the last-four stage in boys' singles at the same Grand Slam.
Fils, Van Assche to square off in all-French final
Local duo overcome their compatriots and good friends to reach the boys' singles title decider
No.14 seed Fils, the reigning Orange Bowl champion and conqueror of Bernard Tomic in Roland-Garros men's qualifying two weeks ago, overhauled a set and break deficit to take out his doubles partner Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5).
It was an extra challenge for the 16-year-old to take on his close friend Mpetshi Perricard, especially as the duo share the same coach, Jerome Potier.
“It was really difficult because it's my friend since seven years I think. So, I needed to leave that feeling out of the court, to play at 100 per cent against him. I did it good, so it was cool,” said the Parisian, overjoyed to reach his home major final.
“Unbelievable. It's a big feeling. I won the semi-final 7-6 in the third, 7-5 in the tiebreak. It was really tough. To be in the final right now, it's unbelievable. But I'm focused on my final now."
Fils and Mpetshi Perricard returned to the court shortly after their singles showdown and won their doubles semi-final 7-5, 6-2 over Petr Nesterov and Viacheslav Bielinskyi.
The 13th-seeded Van Assche, featuring in just his second juniors Grand Slam, edged compatriot and No.9 seed Sean Cuenin 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 39 minutes.
“It was incredible to be four French players in the semi-finals. It's like three friends of mine,” said Van Assche. “Tomorrow I play against Arthur. I know him very well since a lot of time. We will enjoy this final. I think it will be a great match.
“This week I'm playing very well. I played two weeks ago, I played the qualifications of the senior. I learned a lot from that. I'm improving every day. I have confidence in myself. That's why I think I'm winning matches,” added the 17-year-old, who pushed world No.150 Henri Laaksonen 7-5, 6-3 a fortnight ago at Roland-Garros.
“It helped me a lot because I learned a lot from this match. I saw that I have the level of these players because he made the third round in the main draw after. It was a close match against Laaksonen. I have a lot of confidence after this. I was ready to play this tournament and here now for the juniors.”