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04.07.2018

#Wimbledon #London #Scotland #Gleneagles #Murray

Winner of the French Open junior title in 1981, Leconte properly came to Wimbledon's attention four years later when a dazzling win over world No 2 Ivan Lendl fired him to the quarter-finals, although he reckons it was an earlier match which endeared him to the strawberry set.

"This was my first time on the Centre Court, my day. I wanted to do something for the crowd to remember me. I was playing good and then this beautiful white butterfly landed at my feet as I was about to serve. Maybe some guys would have swatted it away and one or two might have stamped on it - you can guess who they might be! I picked up the butterfly and it hopped onto my racket. So I walked it over to the edge of the court and it flew into the stands. The people, they went nuts. I had a good relationship with Wimbledon from that day, a fantastique one. And it still exists."

This was, as we say, a different era when the raciest tabloids showed how important a sport tennis was to them by instituting Top of the Bots polls. Gabriela Sabatini would be No 1 among the women, and Leconte, the men's title-holder, stepped out with the dusky Argentine for a while (can we even say "dusky Argentine" any more, twice in the same paragraph as well?).

By 1986 when Leconte reached the semi-finals at SW19, his best achievement there, he'd acquired a sizeable fan club and a pretty hands-on one as well. "It was, you know, a physical experience getting in and out of the club," he laughs. "You have to be careful when you're famous and not bad-looking. How I turned out I'm very fortunate; my mother did a great job! I had two dreams as a kid. No 1 was to be a tennis player. No 2 was to look like James Bond. I'm still hoping the second one might happen though maybe it's not possible now."

It wasn't only his derriere they liked at the All-England Club; some could appreciate his strokeplay. Leconte is regularly held up as one of the best and most stylish players never to win Wimbledon, maybe third on the list behind Ilie Nastase and, at the top, Ken Rosewall. He is pleased to be appreciated for the finer points of the game as he regards tennis as art. "I play shots that even I don't understand," he once said. He has another go at explaining his aesthetic now: "I'm a leftie and therefore I had to make quick reactions always. Sometimes I would come to the net and give the other guy a shot which was, you know, a little flower. Or a zest of lemon. When you have the talent you are very lucky."

As an elite competitor his sense of fun had to be restricted to pre-Hawkeye gags to dispute line calls when he'd pretend to be blind, tapping his racket in front of him like a white stick. Now, though, he can unleash the full repertoire of silly walks, animal noises, wind-ups and mimicry.

He knows Gleneagles in Scotland is such an occasion where gags and shots all hit their mark.
He's played there before, having been recruited by Judy Murray for a charity event, and is full of admiration for Scotland's grande dame of tennis and her super-talented progeny, while hoping that Andy can beat his injuries and get back on court. "He's a fantastique player and it's sad for Scotland that he's struggling right now. I really hope he can find a solution to play at Wimbledon but it doesn't look great. I don't want him to stop now but sometimes these things you can't control. Sometimes you push the body too hard - and myself I know because of three operations to my back - and eventually it says: 'Enough, fini.'"

 

08.06.2018

#RolandGarros #FrenchPlayers #HenriLeconte

This Tuesday the quarter finals at Roland Garros started without the French Players. On Monday, the last representative of the Tricolor clan, Caroline Garcia, was wiped out by Angelique Kerber. Two small sets and then she went. On the men's side, the story was folded as early as Saturday with the successive eliminations of Gaël Monfils, Lucas Puglia, Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. A counter-performance, unprecedented for eight years, which angers the former finalist of Roland Garros, Henri Leconte.

"Everyone needs to wake up," urges the Eurosport consultant in the Parisian columns. They're all on a rolling train, moving quietly. Indeed, the results of the French are more than honourable in junior.  But where it is counting, it's when you have to perform as a pros. "We have good players in the top 15, 20. But not in the top 10 or 5. We don't have any more! I am the only one to open it, to have the courage to say certain things. We're in the fifth Division, he regrets. Already at the Australian Open, the French players disappeared as early as the eighth. The last final of a Frenchman goes back to 2008 for men, 2013 for women.

Getting out of the cocoon

One of the reasons which get articulated by the winner of the Davis Cup 1991 is the mental problem. Look at Thiem, Zverev who are playing three games in five sets. They're here, guys! The French players have to be harder and they have to come out of their little comfort zone. I have had it myself in my career. Henri Leconte invites the Federation to set up "a new device" and to go and see what is done elsewhere to get out of "our cocoon" and remove the "issues". "But let's stop staying here. Serbia, Russia, Spain, Germany, Angleterre  work all the time to get better and to try new things. They are looking for the little trick in addition (...)  It does not have to become a slaughter, he concludes.

In the meantime, the French public will be able to be satisfied with the doubles, a true tricolor specialty: The hexagon placed three of its player pairs in the men's doubles in the quarter finals.

 

06.06.2018

#FrenchOpen #HenriLeconte #30 #thefinal

30 Years Wilander Leconte

It's been 30 years, that no French player has managed to reach the Roland Garros final. Since June 5, 1988, when Henri Leconte challenged the Swede Mats Wilander. The actors of this landmark event, both now consultants for Eurosport, go back in time in the following interview.

On June 5, 1988, you played in the final of Roland Garros (Swedish victory 7/5, 6/2, 6/1). You remember ?

Mats Wilander: Of course. Five years ago, I had already faced a Frenchman, Yannick Noah, for the title in Paris. I lost! I also knew what a good player Henri could be and I was expecting a close match. The first set was decisive.

Henri Leconte: This is typically the kind of match that we wish we could not remember but that we can not forget. It's a bad memory for me. But after all, there is still the satisfaction of having reached a Grand Slam final at home, which is better than nothing ...

How do you explain that since then, no tricolor player has managed on the men's circuit at Roland Garros?

MW: This is not necessarily surprising: the pressure on the shoulders of the French is huge in Paris and we see a similar phenomenon in Melbourne with the Australians, New York and the Americans and even Wimbledon for the English ... at least until to the victory of Andy Murray but, he is Scottish before being British and I think it could have had an impact.

H.L .: The Tsonga generation, Gasquet, etc. is exceptional. But in France, I feel that we do not work enough on the emotional side. Of course there is pressure to play in Paris but it can also be positive. Personally, when I played against Pete Sampras in the Davis Cup final in 1991, when I was above the 150th place in the world and still had a loose back a few weeks earlier, of course there was some pressure and you have to be in your "comfort zone" during this kind of matches.

Despite your beautiful journey to reach the final in 1988, Henri, many have retained only your speech a bit awkward ...

H.L .: It overdid it, it's true! That is the proof that we must be very careful about everything we can or can't say. This is even more true today with social networks.

M.W .: I remember the reaction of the audience but I did not really understand why they hissed Henri. But it is necessary that the public understands that it is already very difficult to make the speech of the defeated during a final of a Grand Slam so much the disappointment is immense.

How did you manage the months following this final?

M.W .: When I won the US Open that year and became world number 1, I really felt that my motivation was not the same at all, especially in training. I really felt that it was different after in 1989, and certainly not an excuse, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died the following year. He was very important to me and his illness and disappearance were a real test. Once you have achieved most of your goals, it is difficult to motivate yourself. We see it with Djokovic since winning Roland Garros ...

H.L .: It was very complicated then. The year that followed was terrible, especially since I had expressed myself poorly and probably I was also poorly prepared and organized at that time, but it is also how we grow up. Until 1991 and this final Davis Cup that we won after 59 years of scarcity for France, at the price of an exceptional dramaturgy and in a certain atmosphere, I felt not good. In 1992, moreover, I managed to follow up with an excellent Roland Garros where I stopped in the semi-finals against the Czech Petr Korda. The link with the public was then very strong.

 

01.06.2018

#FrenchOpen #HenriLeconte #30 #onthewaytothefinal

Leconte, 30 years after: on the way to the final
 
This is the story of the last French player to have played a final at Roland Garros. Thirty years already. While the tricolors have since played finals at Wimbledon, the US Open or Australia, they have never reached the last Sunday in Paris.

Thirty years later, Henri Leconte still considers his match against Boris Becker as one of the most successful in his career.
He was still in this tournament and did not want to get out of it. That was his fear.
 

After the Becker case was settled, Henri was in panic. "I did not think about the next match at all after beating Becker. On the contrary, I was rather anxious, he admits. I was afraid, because I know I have to perform."
 

And perform, this was always his biggest problem. He could be great, like a McEnroe. An enchanter, a real shooting star, as there were a few. But continuity has not always been his forte. He knows it.
 

"To beat Andrei in three sets after Becker, it was hard for me"
Three years earlier, after his victory in five sets against Yannick Noah, he had been stopped in the quarterfinals by the future winner, Mats Wilander.
Fortunately for him in 1988, it was not (yet) Wilander who awaits him for a place in the last square, but Andrei Chesnokov…
 

 

23.05.2018

#RolandGarros #FrenchOpen #HenriLeconte

Interview with Henri Leconte on May 21st 2018, Roland Garros.
Henri Leconte, the last French finalist of Roland Garros, thirty years ago, believes that the French ATP tennis players are not "really prepared and determined" to regain the trophy for France at the French Open in 2018. 
Q: Is it a pleasure to be still the last French finalist for Roland Garros?

A:  "This is not a satisfaction because it means that for 30 years we have lost. Let's say it's fun.  "

Q: How do you explain the absence of a French player in the final since 1988?

A:  "We don't have someone who is really prepared and determined to do be in the final at Roland Garros. To say I could be in the final it is one thing, but to reach the final is another thing. It is a big chance to have this great tournament at home in Paris. Some players use it to play better. For others the pressure is too much. There are always issues, injuries and doubts. Every year the same thing repeats itself. You have to listen to your body. You have to have a long-term vision and you need to have a strong will to play every ball better and better. You need to be a bull! In the end it is always Rafa (Nadal) who wins it! They (the French) are not able to analyze the game as good as Rafa does it. The French players need to learn that. "

Q: So the French are not well prepared enough?

A:  "What I see is the lack of preparation... You have to be decisive and determined in your tennis sports training program. You can see someone who is completely lacking in confidence like Lucas (Puglia). He has to be able to question himself. I don't think he's really honest with himself, he is not listening enough. It's okay to have a tough time. It happens even to the best. But you have to succeed in doing a positive analysis of all this and you need to change your behaviour. "

Q: What are the stakes for success on clay?

A:  "It's like a chess game. One builds its point even more than on the other surfaces. So you have to play a lot and a lot of matches to adapt. This surface requires an extreme concentration, a much greater power than on other surfaces. Roger Federer (Editor's note: Who has not played the whole season on clay, Roland-Garros included) knows very well what it costs to surpass himself on clay. It is difficult to impress at Roland Garros without having trained a lot. Unless you are a "mutant" like Gaël Monfils. But Gaël ages, he has no longer a solid base to visualize,analyse and devour opponents on clay.  "

Q: What year did you say "this time it's over, I won't be the last one"?

A:  "when Jo (Tsonga) was facing (David) Ferrer (semi-final in 2013). I really thought Jo could win. When you see a player like Ferrer, who does not have a big advantage and is not so powerful, you can succeed. As long as the French players have not understood the game, we will no longer win Roland Garros. Every time, I'm told Henri you exaggerate... But they still have not found the solution. When Yannick (Noah) won in 1983, you can not imagine the mass of work he invested and what he did every day to win this title. Ask Stan Wawrinka, what he did to win this trophy (2015)!  "
Q: Does the little succession behind the generation of Tsonga and Monfils scare you?

A:  "I'm not afraid. It's just reality. Others are so much better... Let's stop saying that when a junior wins one title,  he is prepared to win a major title. He hasn't done anything yet! We dropped the high level to make mass tennis. The French players have no real leader. Other sports are becoming more important in France. Today, tennis does not do as well as it is said... The French players have to be inspired by what is done abroad and they need to learn from other nations.They need to move out of their comfort zone to become more competitive.

05.04.2018

#ATPChampionstour #Scottland #Gleneagles #Brodies

French Open finalist Henri Leconte joins legendary line-up at the Brodies Invitational at Gleneagles


French Open finalist Henri Leconte will put his famous left-handed swing into action this summer when he joins fellow tennis legends at the Brodies Invitational at Gleneagles.

The former World No. 5, who notched up nine singles titles and 10 doubles titles during his illustrious career, will take part in the two-day event that will see former British No. 1 Tim Henman, former World No. 1 Thomas Muster, former World No. 8 Mark Philippoussis and eight-time ATP World Tour doubles champion Colin Fleming, competing in the only Scottish date on the prestigious ATP Champions Tour on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June.

Tennis fans will be treated to a display of experience versus youth when the all-star line-up shares the court with some of Scotland’s most promising young tennis talent. Former Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray has also confirmed her return to support the event, alongside Tennis Scotland and Scottish sports broadcaster Alison Walker as MC.

Henri Leconte said: “I’m really looking forward to playing at the Brodies Invitational, Gleneagles is a beautiful location to play. I know the Scots are very passionate about sport, so I’m sure it’ll be a great atmosphere.”

Established in 1997, the ATP Champions Tour spans the globe with former champions competing in tournaments in cities including London, Brussels, Palma de Mallorca, Mexico and Delray Beach.

Nick Scott, managing partner elect of Brodies, said: “I’m delighted that Henri Leconte will be joining us at Gleneagles for the very first time, it’s great to add another legend to what is already an exciting line-up of tennis stars. I’m sure his performance will be much anticipated by fans and business people alike.”



21.02.2018

#RogerFederer #ATP #2018

Roger Federer again Number 1!

With his defeat of Dutch player Robin Haase in three sets in the quarterfinals of the Rotterdam Open, Roger Federer has yet again done the astonishing, the amazing, and the seemingly impossible: He has just reclaimed, at the age of 36, the title of world's number one ranked men's tennis player-an accolade he last enjoyed in November of 2012-which will make him the oldest player to reach the top of the mountain. (Andre Agassi was 33 when he held the spot in 2003, and Serena Williams was 35 when she was most recently ranked number one last year.)

"Roger is absolutely terrific: 20 Grand Slam victories, eight Wimbledon wins and five consecutive U.S. Open titles, unbelievable!" says Henri Leconte.




















Henri Leconte #Victoria #Australia #2018

Henri Leconte on the hunt around Victoria for the tennis ball he just can't quite seem to catch!
Advertising Campaign and Video Shoot in January 2018 in Australia.