A year ago, there was tremendous suspense in the leadup to the French Tennis Federation’s announcement of its wild cards.
Would they proffer one to Maria Sharapova, who had returned from her 15-month doping suspension less than a month before?
In the end, they didn’t, explaining the reasons during a Facebook Live broadcast.
This year, a far more low-key announcement even if Genie Bouchard fans were certainly holding out one last hope that their favorite, a semifinalist in 2014, might be granted one.
No dice. The federation went “all-French” in distributing the precious spots, which come with guaranteed first-round prize money of 40,000 Euros ($47,120 US).
Here are the wild cards, and their ages and current rankings
Women’s main-draw singles
1 – FERRO Fiona (FRA) (21, No. 262)
2 – GEORGES Myrtille (FRA) (27, No. 215)
3 – HESSE Amandine (FRA) (25, No. 202)
4 – PAQUET Chloé (FRA) (23, No. 261)
5 – PARMENTIER Pauline (FRA) (32, No. 76)*
6 – PONCHET Jessika (FRA) (21, No. 228)
7 – TOWNSEND Taylor (USA reciprocal WC)
8 – Tennis Australia reciprocal
Men’s main-draw singles
1 – BARRERE Grégoire (FRA) (24, No. 241)
2 – BENCHETRIT Elliot (FRA) (19, No. 337)
3 – HEMERY Calvin (FRA) (23, No. 123)
4 – JANVIER Maxime (FRA) (21, No. 283)
5 – MAHUT Nicolas (FRA) (36, No. 116)
6 – MOUTET Corentin (FRA) (19, No. 144)
7 – RUBIN Noah (USA reciprocal WC)
8 – Tennis Australia reciprocal
ALBIE Audrey (FRA) (23, No. 305)
ANDRIANJAFITRIMO Tessah (FRA) (19, No. 319)
ARCANGIOLI Manon (FRA) (23, No. 292)
BUREL Clara (FRA) (17, No. 955, top-10 junior in ’18)
CAKAREVIC Sara (FRA) (21, No. 334)
PARRY Diane (FRA) (15, No. 33 in the juniors)
TAN Harmony (FRA) (20, No. 372)
YEROLYMOS Margot (FRA) (21, No. 491)
ANGELE Jaimée-Floyd (FRA) (18, No. 786, No. 108 in juniors)
BLANCANEAUX Geoffrey (FRA) (19, No. 312)
DENOLLY Corentin (FRA) (20, No. 431)
FURNESS Evan (FRA) (19, No. 457)
GASTON Hugo (FRA) (17, No. 1160, No. 4 junior)
GRENIER Hugo (FRA) (22, No. 378)
HUMBERT Ugo (FRA) (19, No. 296)
MULLER Alexandre (FRA) (21, No. 382)
TATLOT Johan-Sébastien (FRA) (22, No. 324)
Nine Frenchmen in main draw
Nine Frenchmen made the main draw on their own ranking: Lucas Pouille, Adrian Mannarino and Richard Gasquet (who will all be seeded), Gaël Monfils, Benoit Paire, Julien Benneteau, Gilles Simon, Jérémy Chardy and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out due to injury.
They have 29 other players in the top 400. So the selection of these precious few that received wild cards no doubt took quite a bit of time, and involved quite a bit of lobbying and politics.
How’s this for a great Facebook Live? The players are allowed to stand in front of the French Federation board of directors, apologize for past “transgressions” and plead their case for inclusion. It’s likely almost that political.
Women’s pool rather shallow
Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet and Océane Dodin (who made it at the deadline with a ranking of No. 102, but is currently ranked No. 129) are in the main draw.
But beyond that, the French have no women currently ranked in the top 200. They have 12 ranked from 200-400. So unless you’ve annoyed someone at the French federation, you have a good chance of getting a wild card of some sort.
Those are sort of alarming numbers for such a tennis nation. But the women have always seemed to struggle for recognition and top coaching (France is not alone there).
Left out of the main-draw equation is 21-year-old Quentin Halys, currently ranked 133 and just 21 years old.
Halys, two spots out of the top 100 at a career-best No. 102 back in February, has won two Challenger this season and qualified in Australia, where he lost 11-9 in the fifth set to Casper Ruud of Norway.
No doubt there’s some internal drama there, given he was passed over for less-decorated players.
As well, veteran Vincent Millot, 35. and 24-year-old Mathias Bourgue were not given wild cards into the qualifying, and with their current rankings may be left out entirely.
Bourgue, down to No. 268 in the rankings, was at No. 140 a little over a year ago when he did receive a main-draw wild card.
Other players benefit
The two main-draw wild cards for Parmentier and Georges (who had been in the qualifying) allow two other players to get into the qualifying: Barbara Haas of Australia (at No. 199) and Renata Zarazua (at No. 200).
That leaves Canadian Bianca Andreescu two spots out, so she will almost certainly make it.