A year after his junior championship title, Luca van Assche (18) returned to clay for Roland Garros on Tuesday. Since then in the adult circuit, the Parisian (#381 in the world, highest player in his year of birth 2004) has experienced twelve months of learning. For the 2022 edition, he did not receive an invitation to the main draw, but for the sake of qualifications. For RMC Sport, on the sidelines of the Aix-en-Provence Championship, Van Assche is confident in recent months and his ambitions for the future.
A year after the junior title at Roland Garros, how are you, Luca?
It’s going very well. Physically okay, no injuries. In recent months I trained well and won matches. All is well.
How do you judge these past months?
You have crossed a milestone since Roland Garros last year. I gained a lot of experience by winning this title among the juniors and this allowed me to fully launch myself among the seniors and it went very well.
Do you feel special interest from the title?
We sure feel a lot of people following you, and we see it on the networks. We also see the criticism around French tennis, and we really highlighted that with the four of us in the junior lottery semi-finals (Arthur Phils, Sean Coenen and Giovanni Mpecchi-Beryard). Of course, I’m more well known now than before in Roland, but I don’t feel any pressure about it.
This title has opened the doors to certain tournaments such as the Montpellier Championships, the Paris Masters 1000, or even Monte Carlo, where I have received invitations.
Playing big tournaments like this and being a part of the tournament with the best players in the world, to see the atmosphere, how it’s going, how the best of the tournament develops, it gives me a lot of experience. And to also be able to play in matches against the best players in the world allows me to see the path that still needs to be taken.
Specifically, where do you stand on this path that remains to be done?
I work hard every day and get better every day. I learn new things every time I play and try to build on that to progress.
“Alcaraz and Ron, they are aliens”
Want to make the ultimate table this year?
Roland remains an unforgettable moment in my career and I will always think about it every year when I play Roland. Naturally, I have a strong relationship with this tournament, and that makes me want to achieve more success this year and in the years to come. I will do my best to give the best possible performance. If I ever get the chance to play a main draw for Roland, the pitch doesn’t matter to me as long as I have a chance to play the tournament.
This year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon will play the last Roland Garros. Tsonga will discontinue his career after the tournament. You are part of this young generation that will participate in the tournaments of the next decade. Do you want to carry the torch?
the french four (With Gasquet and Monfils, Editor’s Note) was brutal, they had an extraordinary run. We can’t blame them, they have held French tennis very high for many years and it would be a pleasure to take over. I will be delighted to be able to make it happen, and I will do my best to do so.
Do you sometimes feel as though you are struggling with comparisons to great players like Carlos Alcaraz or Holger Ron?
There are two players born in 2003, Alcaraz and Ron, who are really strong players. They are foreign objects, as I said. We can only take their example and inspire them. Hopefully we will be able to get close. After blaming us for the delay, I don’t think so. If we look at the under-18 rating, with Arthur Fells, we are the first two. I don’t think we’re late, they’re mostly the ones ahead too far.
You are 381st in the ranking, is there a ranking target that should be in the nails of a Grand Slam qualification for example?
I set goals for the game I produce, and the intentions I have. If I train well, I focus on it and do my best every day, and the work will definitely pay off. I will be able to rank the results to be part of the top 200 and rise day by day.