Lucas Pouille, a former world number 10, underwent season-ending surgery in 2019 and had an elbow operation last summer too during the COVID-enforced tennis shutdown – but has now revealed the extent of his injuries as he’s keen to adopt a gradual approach to this latest comeback, not applying much pressure or heightened expectations for himself going forward.
Pouille, who got to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016, reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park two years ago – before losing to eventual winner Novak Djokovic.
He was absent for his first Slam since 2014 in last year’s Australian Open, before the aforementioned surgery ruled him out of the last two of 2020. He, like Roger Federer and others besides, will not take place in next month’s tournament either as he ramps up his return to play.
During his interview with Le Parisien, he said: “It took a while before I could serve normally without having problems elsewhere. Before, when I had pain, I didn’t care – I would grit my teeth and play. Now I’m more careful, especially with my right shoulder, elbow and wrist.”
Pouille admits fear, next steps after Australian Open withdrawal
Pouille, who turns 27 next month, admitted he was fearful before undergoing what was described as a delicate procedure – especially considering how important that is for maximising one’s tennis abilities. At the time, he said:
“The surgery is not trivial and the elbow is a very delicate joint – especially in tennis. So yes, it scares me to never be able to serve at 100% again, to be in pain afterwards. There is fear, but I trust my surgeon and people around me.”
It’s understandable there’s no rush if the results don’t match his high expectations early on but cited 22-year-old compatriot Ugo Humbert (world no.30) as a player he enjoys training with.
“I will not panic if results don’t come right away. I hope he and [other young Frenchmen] all play well and achieve great results. When someone does better than you, it motivates you.”
He’s set to return at the Quimper Tennis Open (January 24-31), which features compatriots Gregoire Barrere and Hugo Gaston, as well as Delray Beach finalist Sebastian Korda and others.
Picture source: Tennis World USA, Tennis.com