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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday May 26, 2023

The main draw hasn’t started at Roland-Garros, but we may have hit the high point of the tournament on Thursday when Lucas Pouille completed his qualifying run by defeating Austria’s Jurij Rodionov.

Tennis Express

The Frenchman, who recently went public about his struggles with depression as he struggled to find reasons to continue playing, is back on tour and embracing the daily rituals of the sport once again.

The World No. 670 rose to the challenge this week in qualifying, making his way through three rounds, each of them emotional but none topping his 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 comeback win over Rodionov.

In March Pouille opened up about his struggles, his depression and his bouts with drinking himself to sleep.

“I think ego plays a big role,” he said. “The impatience to return to the highest level. I had the chance to experience great emotions, to play in the biggest tournaments in the world, to make a Grand Slam semi-final, two quarters, to win the Davis Cup, titles... Going from that to being toppled by the 300th in the world in the first round of a Challenger, well, if we are not in tune with that, we cannot win. I did not have the necessary humility and it is not pleasant to think that you lack humility.”

Pouille, who dealt with several injuries, including elbow surgery in 2020, said things got darker recently.

“I started having a darker side and going into a depression which led me, after Roland-Garros in England, to sleeping an hour a night and drinking alone,” he said, adding that when his team questioned why he was looking so haggard, he lied to them.

“I was lying to him. I shut myself away, I didn't tell anyone. (…) I was in a bad phase. And I made the decision to say stop….For my sanity, it had to stop.”

Pouille stepped away from tennis for six months starting last June to recover and take care of himself.

Pouille and his family were on hand to enjoy his revival this week. In a strange twist, he will meet Rodionov again in the first round, as the lucky loser was drawn next to Pouille in the draw.

No matter what happens in that match it will be hard to top the beauty of this special moment, shared by Pouille and his daughter Rose.

16-year-old Fruhvirtova, 17-Year-Old Bejlek Join Main Draw

Qualifying completed on Friday in Paris, with all 16 spots in the men’s and women’s draws finalized. There were some special moments for young players, including Brenda Fruhvirtova, Mirra Andreeva and Sara Bejlek. On the men's side Aslan Karatsev, Juncheng Shang and Flavio Cobolli joined the main draw.

Here are the men’s singles qualifiers and their first round opponents:

Flavio Cobolli v Carlos Alcaraz
Aslan Karatsev faces Alexei Popyrin
Lucas Pouille faces Jurij Rodionov
Sebastian Ofner faces Maxime Cressy
Emilio Nava v Jiri Vesely
Shang Juncheng v Juan Pablo Varillas
Pedro Martinez v Tallon Griekspoor
Radu Albot v Stan Wawrinka
Genaro Alberto Olivieri v Giovanni Mpetschi Perricard
Andrea Vavassori v Miomir Kecmanovic
Hamad Medjedovic v Marcos Giron
Thiago Augistin Tirante v Botic van de Zandschulp
Giulio Zeppieri v Alexander Bublik
Elias Ymer v Casper Ruud
Timofey Skatov v Grigor Dimitrov
Thiago Seyboth Wild v Daniil Medvedev

And the women:

Ylena In-Albon v Claire Liu
Fiona Ferro v Rebecca Peterson
Kayla Day v Kristina Mladenovic
Mirra Andreeva v Alison Riske-Amritraj
Arantxa Rus v Julia Grabher
Brenda Fruhvirtova v Elena Rybakina
Simona Waltert v Elizabeth Mandlik (both qualifiers)
Dayana Yastremska v Donna Vekic
Olga Danilovic v Kateryna Baindl
Clara Tauson v Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Taylor Townsend v Anastasia Potapova
Storm Hunter v Nuria Parrizas Diaz
Tamara Zidansek v Zheng Qinwen
Sara Bejlek v Kamila Rakhimova
Iryna Shyamanovic v Panna Udvardy