The hecatomb which affected the French in the first round of Roland Garros will not have been right of all the hopes of the French. Thursday, June 3, Fiona Ferro, eighth-finalist of the tournament – postponed due to Covid-19 – in the fall of 2020, faces in the second round the American Jennifer Brady, current 14e in the WTA rankings, but uncomfortable on clay and at Roland Garros, where she has never gone beyond this stage of the competition. In the previous round, the Frenchwoman had defeated, certainly without brilliance and in three sets, the Taiwanese qualifier Liang En-Shuo.
His name probably remains less familiar to the general public than those of his compatriots Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet. Yet at 24, she continues the ascent she began two years ago. An ascent punctuated by two titles on clay, in Lausanne in 2019 and then in Palermo in 2020, and rewarded with a 39e world place in March 2021 – its best ranking to date.
Early onset, recent outbreak
Fiona Ferro has asserted herself, during her junior career, as one of the main French hopes of her generation, to the point of embracing a professional career at the age of 15, in 2012, and playing her first Roland-Garros two years later.
The outbreak was not, however, immediate for this player of discreet nature, who was slow to take the measure of her potential. “Before, I had a little trouble feeling in my place, she confided in an interview to The team in summer 2020. During the last two years, it was a little less present and now it is no longer. “
The 2019 season, with the first coronation in Lausanne but also the victory with the French team during the Fed Cup, marked a click. Then comes the year 2020, confinement, empty stadiums, which she manages so well to adapt to that she wins in August in Palermo, by excluding the Estonian Anett Kontaveit, the number 4 seed of the tournament, in the final, in straight sets.
In the meantime, in December 2019, the Niçoise chose Emmanuel Planque as her coach and forged a solid style of play: more initiative in the exchanges, less feverish defensively, safer at the baseline. Her rise continued without a hitch until April when she was forced to retire in the quarterfinals of the Istanbul Open.
Find the top 50
Since then, she has had to treat a tear in her abdominals, then a sprain, and is now at 51e place in the WTA ranking, still ahead of Garcia (58e), Cornet (65e) and Kristina Mladenovic (61e). For the first time at Roland-Garros, Ferro takes on the status of French number 1. A status that she must assume despite a physical condition not quite recovered, as evidenced by her sluggish first round.
His good journey at Porte d’Auteuil in 2020 and his good disposition on clay give hope for a pleasant surprise for his seventh participation in the tournament. But the picture that awaits him this year could prove to be particularly difficult.
If she manages to get past the obstacle Brady on Thursday, she will probably face American Cori Gauff (17, 25e world), then, in a hypothetical round of 16, the world number 1, the Australian Ashleigh Barty, victorious over the Parisian ocher during her last participation, in 2019.
In any case, it would be an opportunity for the native of Libramont-Chevigny, in Belgium, to find the top 50. And to assert herself over time as the best French player on the circuit, whereas since April, for the first time since 1986, France has not placed any of its players in the top 50.
“I think that bothers us all personally, She conceded in this regard, after her victory against Liang. (…) I know I have the capacity to do better. There are certain expectations, but it’s not in relation to others, I think it is primarily in relation to ourselves. “
These expectations are particularly focused on her, the youngest of the four best French women. She could begin to fill them on Thursday if she came, in the middle of the French stagnation, to impose herself in front of an audience won to her cause.