Fils continues to make waves at RG

 - Alex Sharp

Parisian teen made an impact in men's qualifying and has kept up his form in boys' singles this week

Arthur Fils, Roland Garros 2021, boys' singles© Andre Ferreira/FFT

The roll of honour at the Orange Bowl Grade A event is pretty legendary.

One of the most prestigious events on the junior tennis calendar in Florida, USA, boasts the likes of Roger Federer (1998), Dominic Thiem (2011) and Hugo Gaston (2017) as former champions.

France’s Arthur Fils lifted the bowl last December, indicating a bright future for the local star.

“I played really good. When I arrived, I didn’t think I could win it, but round by round I saw my level go up. So ‘Why not?’ It was a very special title for me,” the 16-year-old told of his run in Florida. “It gave me so much confidence.”

Fast forward to Paris and the powerful right-hander is through to the third round of the boys’ singles for the second consecutive year courtesy of a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Brazil’s Joao Victor Couto Loureiro.

However, Fils has already made his mark this fortnight, clinching victory over former world No.17 Bernard Tomic in the men’s qualifying event as a wildcard, before falling to No.31 seed Marc Polmans at the second hurdle.

Arthur Fils, Roland Garros 2021, boys' singles© Andre Ferreira/FFT

“It was a big experience for me, I played great, was a massive win for me,” he said.

“I think the mentality is a big difference. In juniors the guys can give you some points, even when it’s important. In professional it’s impossible. You have to take the points to win.”

It’s been a sharp rise for Fils, who took up tennis as a six-year-old after his dad started playing recreationally. A decade on and the Parisian is going toe-to-toe with some of France’s finest down the road at the National Tennis Centre.

"I’ve already played with big names like Richard Gasquet and Adrian Mannarino, they have so much experience and knowledge,” explained Fils, who faces American second seed Bruno Kuzuhara next. “They can teach me a lot just from hitting and talking.”

Arthur Fils, Roland Garros 2021, boys' singles© Andre Ferreira/FFT

The top 100 is the target for his teens, before glory on Court Philippe-Chatrier one day.

“I don’t [just] want to be top in juniors, if I win this tournament it’s great, but if not, I’ll keep trying. It’s a privilege to play here, obviously I hope to win here one day, it’s the biggest dreams.”

In the girls’ singles, Spain’s Ane Mintegi Del Olmo shocked No.8 seed Natalia Szabanin 6-1, 6-4, whilst Russia’s No.9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva advanced with a 6-1, 6-2 scoreline against Barbora Palicova.

Back to the boys’ and Leo Borg, 40 years after his dad Bjorn won the last of his six titles here, fought back again 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 to topple Max Hans Rehberg. Borg will next face top seed Shang Juncheng from China.

Leo Borg, Roland Garros 2021, boys' singles second round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT