Heineken Open, Auckland
Men’s Semifinal: [CR44] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs. [CR136] Lucas Pouille (FRA)
Pouille intrigued and impressed when I first saw him play last year at the BNP Paribas Masters. Curious to see if he would continue to impress, I watched him closely this tournament. He definitely has potential; however, having potential and producing under pressure is a different story. He won his quarterfinal match fairly easily; yet, as calm as he appeared, the magnitude of his first ATP Tour semi-final had to have triggered some nervous tension. Could he perform as he did in his quarterfinal match?
There are pressure moments in every match, whether you are a seasoned or inexperienced player. The winner is usually the one who handles those moments better. Pouille had not only the pressure of trying to make his first ATP Tour final, he had the misfortune of serving from behind the entire third set. As the prospect of the final loomed closer, his composure dissolved. Unable to remain calm in the face of the magnitude of the occasion, Pouille’s first serve deserted him along with his groundstrokes in the twelfth game. His hopes of a first final put on hold for now?
In the end, another player succumbed to nerves, once again demonstrating how important one’s mental strength is to his success on the tennis court.
SCORE: Mannarino def. Pouille 6-4, 3-6, 7-5