"We have a saying in France, a dog doesn't make a cat" - Yannick Noah
I'm not French, so I don't have even the slightest clue what that quote means, but it's orator Yannick Noah was the last French male to win a Grand Slam singles title, winning the French Open title in 1983. Now, I wasn't a math major in college, but that's a really long time for a powerhouse tennis country like France, a perennial Davis Cup favorite, to not take home a single Grand Slam title on the men's side. Even Ecuador, a country that eats Guinea Pigs as a delicacy, has had more men's singles champions than France in the past 20 years (Andres Gomez, French Open, 1990). Think about that. France, a country with robust social welfare and some of the top tennis academies on the planet, can't outcompete a country that eats large rodents.
That then begs the question, what is wrong with male French tennis players? Well my friends, after extensive research and complex regression modeling, I have arrived at a clear and definitive answer to this question:
The problem with French tennis players, is in fact, that they are French.
As the above graph demonstrates, Frenchness is inversely correlated with Fucks Given. For those of you who slept through 7th grade algebra, that means that the higher the Frenchness, the lower the Fucks Given. Case and point, Benoit Paire on the top left of the graph.
Benoit Paire (Frenchness: 100%, Fucks Given: 0%)
Benoit is so painfully French with his sweaty beard, arrogant liaise, and general attitude towards everyone - and he give literally no fucks. If you have ever watched a Benoit Paire match, you know exactly what I am talking about. The only thing as French as Benoit Paire are croissants. Croissants are so fucking French. They're buttery pastries that parade themselves around as a breakfast food. Sometimes they even have chocolate in them. News flash, that's cake for breakfast. So French. Yet, as the graph shows, croissants do actually give slightly more fucks than the likes of Bonoit and Gael Monfils.....at least croissants turn up in the morning, that's more than you can say about those two. For all the Monfils fans out there, yeah he's fun to watch, but he is the ultimate choke, see French Open 2014 Quarterfinal or US Open 2016 Semifinal for reference.
The remainder of the players on the graph are largely clustered above the negative sloping line, meaning that they are all quite French, but with varying degrees of Fucks Given.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Frenchness: 75%, Fucks Given:45%)
This outcome may have been different if I wrote this article back in 2008 when Tsonga was kicking ass and taking names on his way to the Australian Open final. His dismantling of Nadal in that '08 semifinal is one of the most dominant performance I have ever seen on a tennis court. Unfortunately for Tsonga, that was probably his peak and his fucks given have been steadily dwindling since. He looks like he is crushing life these days and is a new father of two, so I don't blame him, but in absolute terms of fucks given, he is on the down and out.
Gilles Simon (Frenchness 55%, Fucks Given: 65%)
I am a huge Gilles Simon fan. His game has been pretty abysmal as of late, but what the guy has been able to do over his career with a 5-11, 160 pound frame is pretty remarkable. He's got a D3 body, but is a former world #7. For comparison, I've also got a D3 body and would lose 0 and 0 to a tricky 12 and under. He paved the way for guys like David Goffin and Diego Shwartzman, showing that excellent footwork and smart counterpunching can get you to the top of the game. His Fucks Given level may seem fairly high, but the dude is going on 34 years old and has been on tour since 2002 and is still grinding ATP250s in places where I wouldn't even take my Sims on holiday (like Pune, India). He gives fucks.
Lucas Pouille (Frenchness 90%, Fucks Given 88%)
Lucas Pouille had a breakout year in 2016, beating Rafael Nadal at the US Open and establishing himself as a staple in the top 25 of the men's game. Since then his results have been fairly bipolar, winning an ATP250 in Montpellier earlier this year, but then bowing out of big tournaments to the likes of Yuki Bhambri and John Millman. The only explanation for these head-scratching losses? Lucas Pouille is so French, just look at his Instagram. I can smell the fine wine and baguettes from here. I honestly bet if Lucas was born just slightly east over the German border he would be a multiple Grand Slam winner by now..
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Frenchness 100%, Fucks Given 98%)
I like Pierre. He's got great hands up at net and has a clean all around game. He is still waiting to make his big break, but he has been close to a few huge wins over the past year or so. He is, however, super fucking French. Just look at his face and perfect French hair. Pierre is like the tennis player version of Patrice from The Inbetweeners. He probably smokes a ton of hand rolled cigarettes and would bum your mum if given a chance.
You're probably wondering who the guy on the bottom right of the graph is? That's Carlos Berlocq. He is zero percent French. Literally, he is Argentinean. But he 150% Gives Fucks. If you have ever watched a Berlocq match (which I don't personally recommend), you'll see that the dude puts every single ounce of effort in his body into every single groundstroke. For that sole reason, you think he would be a bit better than he is, but alas, he is still total shite. Keep doing you Carlos.
I hope you enjoyed this article, please do comment and share. If you are French, no hard feelings, I love your wine and women.
P.S. I didn't include Gasquet in this article because frankly I don't care about Gasquet. Sorry not sorry.
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