Both Frenchmen reach fourth round at a major for the first time

Arthur Fils extended his best Grand Slam run to the fourth round on Saturday at Wimbledon, but only after pulling off a strong finish to overcome Roman Safiullin in five sets.

Fils prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 against the 2023 quarter-finalist Safiullin to reach the second week on just his second appearance at SW19. The #NextGenATP Frenchman outhit his opponent by 57 winners to 30 to set a fourth-round meeting with ninth seed Alex de Minaur.

"Really happy. It's been a tough match with tough conditions. We stopped twice. There was a lot of wind," Fils said. "So I'm really happy about how I managed my emotions because after the third set I was very down, but I managed."

Safiullin appeared to have taken control on Court 15 when he raced to the third set, but the No. 34 in the PIF ATP Rankings Fils held his nerve across sets four and five to seal a three-hour, 18-minute triumph. At 20 years and 32 days old, Fils is the youngest Frenchman to make the last 16 at Wimbledon since 2005, when Richard Gasquet reached the same stage as a 19-year-old.

With his third victory of the week at Wimbledon, Fils extended his lead at the top of the PIF ATP Live Race To Jeddah. The 19-year-old, who reached the championship match at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by PIF in 2023, is on 1,015 points, 461 points clear of second-placed Jakub Mensik.

Fils' good friend Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard ensured he will compete at Wimbledon on his 21st birthday by notching a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory against Emil Ruusuvuori on Saturday.

“I’m very proud of myself to get the win. It was a difficult match at the beginning. I was very nervous,” Mpetshi Perricard said. “But I improved a lot during the second and third sets. Yeah, just kept going on the fourth, and it worked. Just very happy with myself.”

The lucky loser, who will turn 21 on Monday, picked up his first Grand Slam win earlier this fortnight and has advanced to the fourth round in a dream debut at the All England Club. He is the 50th man to reach the fourth round in his Wimbledon debut and the fifth lucky loser to reach that stage. 

The 6’8” rising star fired 25 aces and won more than 75 per cent of points on both his first and second serves in what was his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Ruusuvuori. The Finn claimed his lone break point of the match in the opening set but could not cope with Mpetshi Perricard's firepower in the final three sets.

The Frenchman now has wins of five, three and four sets this fortnight after going the distance to beat 20th seed Sebastian Korda in the opening round and notching a straight-sets triumph against Yoshihito Nishioka in the second round. He awaits 25th seed Lorenzo Musetti, who defeated Argentine Francisco Comesana 6-2, 6-7(4) 7-6(3), 6-3. Musetti is into the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.

"I will be focused on what I can do, on what I can do better in this match," Mpetshi Perricard said. "We will see."

Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard powers into the Wimbledon fourth round.
Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard powers into the Wimbledon fourth round. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Mpetshi Perricard joins countrymen Fils and Ugo Humbert in the fourth round, with fellow Frenchman Quentin Halys bidding to join them in the last 16.

Ruusuvuori was competing in the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time but was stopped short of becoming the fourth Finnish player (man or woman) to reach the fourth round at a major. Jarkko Nieminen (four) is the only Finn with multiple fourth-round showings.

Did You Know?
Mpetshi Perricard is up to No. 44 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings. Last year after Wimbledon, he was No. 208.