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Roland Garros: One On One With Josselin Ouanna

Monday, May 25, 2009

Josselin Ouanna, France
(Photo by ©FFT)



Long overshadowed by compatriots Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Josselin Ouanna finally appears ready to claim his rightful place among the French tennis elite.

For a long time Josselin Ouanna was almost invisible. Naturally shy, he was like an introverted teenager who dared not look anyone in the eye.

New attitude

Times have changed. Ouanna pulled off his t-shirt, showing off his bare chest for our camera, a symbolic gesture for a player who is almost sure of himself now, and increasingly confident of his physique and his strength.

It is also the type of attitude the 23-year-old has begun to display on court as he takes his game to the next level. Take Sunday, for example, when the 136 world-ranked Ouanna took a more aggressive approach than usual against Spain’s Marcel Granollers, a player fully 40 points higher than him in the rankings. The new and improved “Joss” went on to win his first Grand Slam match. In five sets no less.

Reminiscences

Still visibly moved after watching the match, Ouanna’s first coach Fabrice Loustalot spoke to the press about his former protégé’s transformation. “Joss has changed his attitude. He’s really developed his character. During the match he showed some emotion, pumped his fists. It was beautiful to watch. Perhaps that’s what was missing from his game.” Loustalot trained Ouanna from the ages of 7 and 13 and remembers him as a “super talented boy who was extremely shy and almost never spoke.”

Ouanna is clearly coming into his own then. A victory at the Rennes challenger, followed by a quarter-final spot in Lyon, are proof of a burgeoning talent. Joss himself commented on his recent progress: “I’ve improved at my own pace. I know I have what it takes. Perhaps I had less self-confidence than Jo or Gael and of course my injuries didn’t help. It wasn’t easy seeing my friends winning matches on TV, but it in the end it certainly motivated me to go meet them at the top!”

With the help of his current trainer Jerome Potier, Ouanna is working his way up in his own way and at his own speed. And when he faces Marat Safin in the second round he will get the chance to show the world his new attitude and prove that Tsonga and Monfils may not be that hard to catch after all…

Posted by Shelia

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