He looks down on everyone. Not by condescension towards his opponents, but by his height: 1.95m at only sixteen years old! Gabriel Debru is one of the greatest hopes of French tennis. He will play, Friday, June 3, a semi-final of the junior tournament of Roland-Garros against the Croatian Dino Prizmic, seeded n°10. The licensee at the Grenoble Tennis Club is the last Tricolore in the running to succeed Luca Van Assche, winner in 2021.
And this is not his first feat. On May 16, he became the youngest player to win a qualifying round for a Grand Slam tournament since Bernard Tomic at the Australian Open in 2008, winning against Arthur Fils Porte d’Auteuil. Enough to fill up with confidence just before his second participation in the junior table. The young man has since been wandering around in the 18 and under competition, and has been sailing his boat peacefully since his entry into the running last Sunday: he has not conceded any set in his four contested matches.
His first feat of arms among the big boys, a Challenger tournament in Roanne, on November 9, 2021. Not yet in the ATP ranking, Debru then faces the 220th in the world, the Italian Andrea Pellegrino, in the first round. To everyone’s surprise, he was the winner of a duel in three sets (4-6, 6-2, 6-3) and offers himself, at only fifteen years and ten months, his first points on the main circuit.
With this first round spent in the Loire, he became the fourth youngest player of the century to take a round in a Challenger tournament and, at this moment, the only player under 16 to appear in the world top 1000. In a few months, he climbed the levels one by one until reaching the 780th world rank before Roland-Garros. “I train hard every week to get better and I think I’ve already improvedsummarized the interested party after his easy victory in the quarter-finals of the junior tournament on Thursday against the Slovak Privara (6-1, 6-2).
“I don’t rest on my achievements. I hope to do better and better. I work physically and tennis every week. It’s very hard but I’m hanging on to be able to become better every day. I’m going to continue to training very hard so that I can achieve my dreams.”Gabriel Debru
at franceinfo: sport after his quarter-final of Roland-Garros juniors on June 2, 2022
The seeded n°18 of the boys’ tournament can count on assets in his game. His cannon serves exceed 200 km/h, his game intelligence and his ease mark, both on his two-handed backhand and on his forehand bomb. The right-hander also hurts his opponents with his mobility by not hesitating to finish the point at the net with a certain touchdown. “He needs a fairly high level of energy on the court, but he must not fall into excitement either”Explain one of his coaches at the Grenoble club, Stéphane de Choudens.
Often, during the match, especially during points capable of tipping the match, the player with the cap turns to his clan, clenching his fist. “He also comes to look for energy outside”specifies Stéphane de Choudens.
Dreams, the Isèrois is full of them and wants to aim high. Since he started playing tennis at the age of five, the player of the 2005 generation (he was born on December 21), has never stopped growing. “At that age, there is everything that still needs to progress”, However, warns his coach. He adds : “We have young people who have a lot of talent, but there are other ingredients that you need to have. And I think that mentally, Gabriel is strong, in any case he shows it because he knows how to take responsibility. “
For Paul-Henri Mathieu, high level director at the French Tennis Federation, who attended the quarter-final of the French hopeful, there is still a long way to go: “VSit’s a source of pride to have young talents emerging and obviously it’s always good to see several young people reach far in the tournaments. But this is not an end. We know that a lot can still happen until the arrival on the professional circuit.
With his performances, the young man from Grenoble arouses curiosity. The captain of the French Davis Cup team, Sébastien Grosjean, was even one of the few spectators present on court 14 for the demonstration of the young prospect. “I’m going to see all the French players, we’re watching everywhere”sketched the technician in the bays of Roland-Garros.
Gabriel Debru is not yet known to the general public but has the ambition, through his performances on the courts, to become one. To get to know him better, his trainer Stéphane de Choudens suggests focusing on the behavior of his protege. “We see a lot of things on the court of a personality, of someone. We feel that he is a player, we feel that he likes to create”smiles the TC Grenoble technician. He likes to adapt to situations, he likes to feel the moments of play.”
“We feel that he is generous. He is generous in the effort and that’s what he is on the outside too.”Stephane de Choudens
at franceinfo: sport after Gabriel Debru’s victory in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros juniors
His serenity is also remarkable. The soberly nicknamed “Gaby” does not show any negative emotion on his youthful face, whether during a match or during his media solicitations. “Expectations, there are, I think, for everyone, for every professional and everyone manages them in their own way.analyzes the person concerned. Now I try to give my best on the pitch, to get the best possible result on the court. I just want to give it my all and satisfy myself.”
For this, the young man detaches himself as much as possible from everything that can be said around him and can in particular count on his family and his big brother, Mathis, also a tennis player. Gabriel Debru says more: “I put myself in a bubble, you have to know how to protect yourself because if you listen to everything that is said, you can quickly get lost. I am very focused on my training, my tournaments and I know that my family allows me to rest the mind after the games.” The appointment is made for the slender Grenoble who has everything to become even bigger.