The young ones occasionally say insightful things. Lucas Pouille, the 22-year-old Frenchman who knocked former champ Rafael Nadal out of the U.S. Open on Sunday, was asked if the match was a career-changing moment.
“No, maybe,” said Pouille (pronounced “Pwee”). “I will tell you in a few months or a few years. Now if I say it’s going to change my career and in one year I am No. 50, I will say wrong. So I will see.”
He wanted to predict no farther than to say the win “will give me a lot of confidence for the next round.”
Out of the mouths of babes . . .
Kyle Edmund, the 21-year-old Briton who upset No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet and No. 20 John Isner before losing to No. 1 Novak Djokovic Sunday night, said his primary goal at this point of his tennis life is “to be, hopefully, injury-free. I don’t know. It’s tough to look ahead.”
What Edmund did see in his future was how “everything needs to improve. You see how well Djokovic moves. That’s the standard he’s putting out there. I’ve got to get better at my movement, at my shot management, when to pull the trigger, when to rally.”
On Monday night, men’s fourth-round action concluded according to form, with No. 2 seed Andy Murray cruising past No. 22. Grigor Dimitrov, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1. In the afternoon, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka defeated Ukraine’s unseeded Illya Marchenko in four sets and No. 6 Kei Nishikori eliminated No. 21 Ivo Karlovic in straight sets, joining the resurgent Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals.
Wawrinka attributed his third-set slip, in an otherwise routine 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory, to some difficulty with the wind in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Nishikori, in spite of Karlovic’s 21 aces, controlled his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) decision by hitting 44 winners and making only seven unforced errors.
For the new kids on the Grand Slam block, whether the tournament has moved on without them — as with Edmund — or could end as soon as today for Pouille against countryman Gael Monfils, the proximity to the established elite certainly offers a glimpse of the future.
“I’ve practiced with all the best,” Pouille said. “The way they work; they’re working so hard, and that’s why they’re here. They’re talented as well, but so many players are. They put attention on every shot.
“I had the chance to practice with Roger [Federer] and it was unbelievable. He was working so hard, like four hours. Then, next day, the same.”
Djokovic offered that Pouille and Edmund are among the candidates to enter the top ranks — Pouille “has the potential if he gets it together,” Djokovic said. And Edmund “knows there is work ahead of him. He needs to stay committed.”