“I think I can go higher,” says Quentin Halys.

Quentin Halys certainly didn’t believe much when questioned before the start of the ATP 250 tournament in Auckland, where he reached the quarter-finals last Thursday. “The Australian Open might suit me well, but we always depend on the draw,” said the 26-year-old Frenchman, who started after a few tender years that saw him transform from a young prodigy into a solid player in the Top 100.

The 1.91m server will face Greek world number 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round this Monday morning in Melbourne. But the ATP No. 64 (a career-best ranking) also noted: “I feel like I can beat a lot of players and I can’t wait for it to start. “We are also looking forward to confirming his excellent form.

After narrowly beating you (7-6, 7-6) at the Adelaide tournament on January 5, Novak Djokovic declared, “You’re playing like a Top 10.” What inspires you?

Not much. I was obviously disappointed to lose. But I know I played well. It’s not my average level of play, and I’m aware of that. There are defeats that are less difficult to swallow than others.

You also said immediately after the match that you have nothing to regret. Was there more space between you than the score indicated?

I’m not far off, but on the other hand, I’ve never been in a position to win. I was happy with my match because I think I could have beaten a lot of players that day. But I didn’t. If I ever have to play again, this should serve me well to win.

What mood are you in for the Australian Open?

I’m excited, it’s a tournament I like a lot, I’ve played quite well. The first time I was in juniors, I reached the doubles final (with Johan-Sébastien Tatlot in 2014). I also won my first match in the Grand Slam final draw in Melbourne (against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in 2016). I have already been eliminated twice. I have many fond memories there.

You won three of your six singles titles in 2022 [en challenger]. Last year you played in four more finals and broke into the Top 100. What happened?

I won a lot of games at the beginning of the year. I built a lot of confidence in myself, which I was able to maintain throughout the season. I felt very good physically all year. I did not revolutionize tennis. But my matches had more consistency, more regularity. I’m glad I ended up with this because it’s really what I’ve been looking for for several years.

In the first round of Roland Garros in 2015, Quentin Halys (then 18 years old) faced the law of Rafael Nadal. Not the first and not the last in this case. – Ella Ling / BPI / Rex Shutterstock / Sipa

This classification is also the sesame for the final table of the Grand Slam tournaments, sports as well as financial security. Does this change anything for you?

It changes a lot, but it’s just one step. I hope to stay in this ranking for as long as possible. Financially and even motivationally, we know why we are in this field. Increases motivation.

In Team, during the last Roland Garros, you looked back on 2018, when you were already so close to breaking into the Top 100, constantly counting the points needed to integrate it, which hurt your performance. Looking back, what lessons do you take away from this?

You should focus less on ratings and try to be more regular. Play all matches thoroughly without thinking that some are more important than others. All matches are important for me today. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing Djokovic or someone lower.

You were so strong, you were so young. In 2010 You win Minor AcesIn 2014, you played in the final of the US Open among juniors. Were you able to get rid of the weight of expectations that weighed heavily on you then?

For a long time, I distanced myself from everything that could be said about me. There will always be people to criticize, but I am increasingly ignoring them. I took the pressure off myself. It is up to me to set my course without listening to what is being said. I do my best, I always want to go higher. Sometimes there are gaps. I know what I did wrong in the past and I try not to repeat it.

Can you find these criticisms on social networks?

Yes, but also in newspapers. It’s always “lucky, unworthy, etc.” there will be someone who says. or telling me I’m not mentally strong enough. People will always be there to criticize, that’s part of the game. Still, I’m doing my best and that’s what matters in the end.

We read that you are living your second career. Isn’t that a bit exaggerated?

I do not believe. I think I’m a different player than I was before Covid. My approach to everything and how I conduct myself on the field has clearly improved. Game-wise, I definitely haven’t changed much. But in terms of attitude and personal confidence, yes.

What do you attribute this change to?

Then I asked myself all possible and imaginable questions: do I really want to continue? At what price? Today, every morning, I know what I really want to do and, good or bad, I have no regrets at the end of the tournament. I made a decision, I committed to it, and I’m totally okay with it. Which used to be less.

Halys can count on its strong service.
Halys can count on its strong service. – Rodrigo Arangua / AFP

Have you really thought about quitting your job?

The detention was difficult, we had to leave after staying at home for a long time. Yes, it crossed my mind, though it never took shape. I wouldn’t go back to tournaments if I wasn’t willing to put in all the effort. It requires a lot of sacrifice. It is not easy to go so often and so far away from home.

Are you traveling alone or with your trainer (Nicolas Devilder)?

I am with my coach. I always have those with me in tournaments. I had this surgery after recovering from covid. It motivates me more every day. Sometimes it’s hard to understand what you can do, good or bad, when you’re alone.

Are you now counting the points to see if you’ll stay in the Top 100?

No, I hardly ever look at ratings anymore. I know he is fine. If I’m doing everything right, there’s no reason for it to fall off. The important thing is to beat good players and meet very good players so I can see where I compare to them. When I go on the court against Djokovic and I really have the intention of beating him, it’s a good thing because it wasn’t like that before. It is moving in the right direction.

The Frenchman, here at the 2013 US Open juniors, had a brilliant career as a young player.
The Frenchman, here at the 2013 US Open juniors, had a brilliant career as a young player. – Getty Images via AFP

Are you where you want to be when you decide to become a professional gamer?

Back then, being Top 100 didn’t matter that much… And then when you’re 70th in the world, you want to be 50th. When you’re 50, you want to be 30. It never stops. This is the story of the eternally dissatisfied. I’m very happy to be where I am today, but I don’t want to stop and I believe I can go even higher. That’s nice too… Having a good rating and telling yourself you still have room for improvement.

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