Dorian Descloix is a player from Montpellier, France who turns 30 next month.
You’ve probably never heard of him.
His current ATP Tour singles ranking is No. 1592. His current ATP Tour doubles ranking is … well, he doesn’t actually have one.
His best was No. 562, more than six years ago.
So what was Descloix doing on the stadium court at the Ecuador Open in Quito this week, in the doubles semifinals with Gaël Monfils?
Well, the Tour’s media folks didn’t seem to pick up on this, other than to refer to Descloix as Monfils’s doubles partner on a promo visit to the actual Equator.
So we can only guess that Monfils did his countryman a solid by flying him down to South America with him as a training partner (and ping-pong opponent) and, in the process, wangled them a wild card into the doubles.
Montpellier man in Quito
Descloix was born in Montpellier, France and raised in Montpellier, France. He also went to university in Montpellier, France and got a wild card into the qualifying of the ATP event there five times between 2010 and 2015. Descloix also teamed up with Monfils in doubles at that event on two occasions on wild cards.
As it happens, the Montpellier tournament is the same week as this event in Quito. So he was, in fact, skipping his hometown tournament for this.
It was totally worth it.
Descloix and Monfils upset the No. 1 seeds, Marcelo Demoliner and Purav Raja – solid doubles specialists, both – 14-12 in a match tiebreak in the first round. They saved match points, too.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) February 7, 2018
And they followed it up with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Victor Estrella Burgos (the three-time defending singles champion in Quito) and Casper Ruud.
The pair bowed out in the semis, after Monfils lost a tough three-setter in singles earlier in the day.
From Cannes to Quito
Descloix hasn’t played an ATP or even a Futures event in nearly a year, although he does play regularly in French money tournaments.
And he plays the French interclubs for Tennis Club de Marignane.
In the most recent French rankings, he stands at No. 80.
In his last tournament, the ASLM Cannes Tournoi d’Hiver (total purse: 2,000 Euros) he lost to a guy with a 2/6 rating (a strong 5.0, in NTRP terms) named Hugo Vouillat. (To be fair, Vouillat had played at the Futures level for several years, but had stopped playing for awhile – hence his ringer’s ranking). But still.
The guy can play
This was only the second match Descloix had ever played in the main draw of an ATP Tour event, in singles or doubles. And it was the first ATP Tour event he had ever played outside his hometown Montpellier event.
And yet, he seemed unfazed, on the outside, by the fairy-tale quality of it. And despite his modest resumé, the guy can really play.
Descloix moves well, serves and volleys, has great hands. Which gives you yet another idea of just how tough and competitive it is out there, and how many really, really good tennis players will never make a living at the game.
The two earned $7,740 US for reaching the semifinals. Hopefully Monfils will let Descloix keep it all. The 90 ATP Tour rankings points would put Descloix at around No. 550 in the world as of Monday.
Monfils hardly plays any doubles. In fact, he’s played just two doubles matches in the last year and a half. And with the more than 9,000 feet of altitude in Quito, and the fact that it was his first tournament on red clay since Umag last July, it probably hurt him in the singles. But he’d probably do it all over again; he’s that kind of guy.
And there could be more.
Monfils and Descloix have a wild card into the Buenos Aires event this week. They meet No. 4 seeds Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos in the first round.
Another Marc Lopez?
It’s unlikely Descloix will do a Marc Lopez, and use this as a springboard to a viable doubles career. But the one thing we know about tennis is that you never know.
Lopez also had a very good friend – some guy named Rafael Nadal.
It all started back in 2009, when Nadal teamed up with Lopez in Doha (and they won it) as well as Indian Wells and Miami. Lopez was pushing 27. His singles and doubles rankings had been hanging in the 200s for awhile, and it didn’t seem as though he was going to get a break.
And then his friend did him a big solid.
Now 35, Lopez is currently ranked No. 23. But he got as high as No. 3 five years ago. He has 12 titles (including the 2016 French Open and two titles at Indian Wells). He has an Olympic gold medal. And he has banked nearly $4 million in prize money.
You never know.
(All Quito screenshots from TennisTV.com)