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Feature: Arthur Fils: Finding the Joy

Arthur Fils: Finding the Joy
October 5, 2023

Armed with a powerful game and thrilling athleticism, Arthur Fils is making swift and stunning progress. 

At age 19, he's already lifted a first ATP singles trophy and can count a win over then-No.4 Casper Ruud among his big-name wins this year. 

As Fils builds on those growing milestones, he's embracing every new experience. It includes his debut appearance at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, which started in the best possible fashion with a first-round win over Pavel Kotov at Qi Zhong Stadium.  
 "This is my first visit to Shanghai, but I enjoy my time here," Fils smiled after his 6-1 6-4 win on Thursday. "Center Court is an amazing court, so I'm really happy."

The Frenchman is happy generally given a dream rise on tour, in which he's climbed from outside the world's top 300 to his current peak No.44 ranking within 12 months. 

"I mean I played first time in Wimbledon, first time in US Open, first time here," he said. "I'm enjoying all the tournaments that I'm playing and I'm trying to show it on the court with some good points and a smile."'

While a natural charisma helps build his fan base, Fils is also benefitting from the work ethic he's been building since his childhood in Bondoufle, just outside Paris. 

After taking up tennis as a five-year-old, Fils worked with his father until age 12, when the French Federation provided his coaching. 

He signalled his star potential as a runner-up at the 2021 Roland Garros boys' tournament and after success on the ATP Challenger Tour early in 2023, made his top-100 breakthrough when he claimed the Lyon title in May.  

At age 18 and 11 months, Fils was the youngest Frenchman to win an ATP title since Gael Monfils at 2005 Sopot, which added another happy note to his career breakthrough. 

Fils showed a fond connection to his famous countryman after his first-round win in Shanghai, signing a television camera lens with "Move like La Monf".  

"It's a quick joke. We are very close and I know that he is watching at home," he laughed when asked about his acknowledgment of the former top-10 Frenchman. "It's for him. He can smile at home and enjoy his holidays."

For Fils, at a far different stage in his career than 37-year-old Monfils, there's sheer joy in his contribution to an increasingly prosperous time in French tennis. 

The teenager is one of eleven Frenchman to contest the Rolex Shanghai Masters main draw, with Luca Van Assche, another 19-year-old, also within that contingent.

"My friend was playing just after me now," he said of his world No.66 countryman. "He's still young like me so we're enjoying it and have some good times."
As he looks ahead to a second-round meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Shanghai, Fils is also focused on a bigger picture. While Roger Federer was a childhood idol, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have also added inspiration to a goal to claim a Grand Slam title and climb to world No.1. 

Given Fils' spectacular progress in such a short period, it's a dream that seems well within reach for the talented teen. Tres bien!
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