MARSEILLE, February 22, 2016
Ahead of Sunday’s press conference with the Open 13 champion Nick Kyrgios, Marseille’s tournament director Jean-Francois Caujolle spoke to the media about the event’s 24th edition.
“Nick is an interesting winner with charisma. He is a young player on his way to the top. Although the tournament is only part of the ATP 250 series, he showed that he is able to overcome very good players from the top 10. He eventually beat a Grand Slam champion,” Caujolle said referring to the Australian youngster, who took out the tournament’s third seed Richard Gasquet, second seed Tomas Berdych as well as fourth favourite Marin Cilic in the final en-route to claim his first ATP World Tour title without losing his service during the entire week.
“It is my philosophy to present young and interesting players at the tournament. They have different characters. Some are more reserved and others more expressive, which obviously brings some kind of tension to an event. We are not a competitor to the Grand Slam tournaments but offering a platform for the young guns on the tour is exactly what our event should do. Kyrgios is that kind of player. He won his maiden title. He was very solid throughout the week and showed that he wants to capture the title at every moment – at least that is what I felt. He has a very strong serve, moves well and is very dangerous at the return. You never know in which direction he is going to hit the ball. He still needs to improve his volleys, but he is a very strong player already,” the tournament director described his new Marseille champion.
Only one local player made it to the stage of the final, when Benoit Paire lost to Marin Cilic in the semi-finals. Gasquet fell in the quarterfinals and defending champion Gilles Simon did not survive the first round, losing to Teymuraz Gabashvili.
“Gilles has had some problems in recent times and doesn’t seem to feel so good on court. Talking about Paire is difficult, as he had to play against a very strong Kyrgios. But if he is able to play his best tennis, it will be hard to beat him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t show it here at any time,” Caujolle told about the pretty disappointing results of the Frenchmen in Marseille.
“That Monfils was forced to withdraw ahead of the tournament is a thing that can always happen. If Gael does not feel like playing tennis, you will not have the chance to do anything. That’s how it is. For that reason, we want to have a strong field in general. It’s a pity that Stan (Wawrinka) lost in the quarterfinals but the surface does not suit him very well. It is a bit too fast for him. Nonetheless, that’s a common thing nowadays, everybody can beat anybody,” he continued.
“Kyrgios is an atypical player. He knows a lot about basketball, every player in the NBA. I do not want to say that he doesn’t have any “tennis culture” but this is his character. It is difficult to control him. His reactions are unpredictable. That’s a good thing for tennis. I told him to stay as he is, keeping it real. It is a challenge for the tournament director, as you know that a players like Gael or Kyrgios can freak out at every moment but Nick was well-behaved this week. We need these kind of players for our tournament,” Caujolle stated and seems to be a fan of the young generation.
“I have been telling this for two years that Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, Zverev, Chung are on their way to the top. Federer or Djokovic are not going to play in Marseille, so I need young players at their breakthrough. Another final between Federer and Djokovic is not of interest for us here. There is a new generation coming up, maybe the best in a long time. I do not see that French players are going to be part of this. They are taught to play only in a nice way, not that aggressive enough. But it is easy to tell this from my point of view, I am not close enough to what’s actually happening.”