“The best spoon service of all time”, he encourages himself in Serbian: discovering Corentin Moutet, last Frenchman at Roland-Garros

“The best spoon service of all time”, he encourages himself in Serbian: discovering Corentin Moutet, last Frenchman at Roland-Garros

Corentin Moutet est le dernier Français encore en lice à Roland-Garros. EPA – YOAN VALAT

Corentin Moutet is the surprise of this fortnight at Roland-Garros, with a spectacular game which will not be too much against Jannik Sinner, this Sunday evening, during his first round of 16 in Paris.

It is after 11:30 p.m. Friday evening and the Suzanne-Lenglen court has almost regained its calm. After having trembled all over, the fault lies with a French public in fusion with one of his new favorites, having just driven poor Sebastian Ofner crazy, thanks to a new number from his “Coco show”.

But in the bowels of the second largest court at Porte d’Auteuil, Serbian cries resound: "Idemo! Same!". No, it's not Novak Djokovic that we hear cheering for in Serbian, but the Frenchman Corentin Moutet, the first to qualify for the round of 16 at Roland-Garros since a similar-playing Hugo Gaston in 2020.

And for the Olympic Games at the same time. "It’is a great weapon also for the French team, blurted in passing the coach of the Blues, Paul-Henri Mathieu. He has his place. He's a player who was made for that, for Olympic fervor too." 

Evicted from the FFT in 2022

A hell of a revenge for the left-hander from Neuilly-sur-Seine, ousted by the FFT at the end of 2022 because he no longer suited "to the values ​​that the Federation wants to transmit". No matter, it didn’t change his life by his own admission, and that’s perhaps a good thing.

At 25 years old, Corentin Moutet (79th in the world) is one of those tennis players that some can't stand while others make him their little Madeleine de Proust. It must be recognized that France will have a certain chance of counting him in its ranks rather than those opposite this summer.

"It’It’s not my primary goal to drive people crazy"

So he succeeds in getting into the brains of many adversaries. The better to blow them up. "It's not my first goal to drive people crazy", he refuted Saturday evening. Yet he has the whole range: a physique allowing him to run everywhere, rounds (extremely rounded balls) that would make any fourth-round player blush, one of the best slices of the circuit or even cushioning as retro as the programming of Chérie FM. "He’is a magician", summarizes his Serbian trainer Petar Popovic.

Not forgetting the spoon serve, which he used a good dozen times on Saturday evening against Ofner and to very good effect. "For me, it’s a blow a bit like any other to tell the truth, explains a very calm Moutet, denoting with his attitude during the matches. You can serve from above, why can't you serve from below? You can do drop shots, why can't you do it on serve? I think it's a shot like any other, as long as it remains efficient and it's not to make fun of your opponent."

"He's not doing that out of disrespect, it's really a weapon. You have to take advantage of it because he has the best underarm serve of all time. Some coaches might tell him not to do it, but I think it's funny and it works", Popovic explains, a man as colorful as his protégé, capable of launching himself a “He who doesn't jump is not Moutet, hey!” in the middle of a match.

"Everything is possible"

A relationship without the thickness of a sheet of paper between the two accomplices which allowed Moutet to overcome a serious fracture in his right wrist, having dropped him to 173rd place in the world. Forcing him to play only one-handed backhands for many months.

"It all seemed abnormal to people at that time, when I was one-handed, he explains. It’was a complicated time. But I also progressed thanks to that. It forged me because I believed in myself." He was right to do it because here he is in the second week of Roland-Garros for the first time in his career, facing his best, the No. 2 in the world Jannik Sinner, whom he has never met.

"With the help of the public, I think anything is possible, hopes coach Popovic. If I didn't believe it, I would have already taken my ticket to Serbia." Instead of that , he will have it for a new “Coco show”.

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