(Reuters) – One victory at the French Open and a single-handed backhand was all it took for 16-year-old wildcard Diane Parry to draw comparisons with former world number one and fellow Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo on Monday.
Parry, ranked 457th in the WTA rankings, beat Belarussian world number 102 Vera Lapko 6-2 6-4 to advance into the second round. It was her first win in the main draw of a Grand Slam or WTA event.
The result was a welcome win for French women at Roland Garros on Monday after both Pauline Parmentier and Alize Cornet were sent packing.
Parry, who grew up on the edge of Roland Garros in Boulogne-Billancourt, was immediately asked if she was like Mauresmo considering she also plays with a single-handed backhand.
“It’s Amelie Mauresmo that taught me. I love it. I’m very happy to have a one-handed backhand,” she said.
“I’m one of the very few players to have one, so I stand out thanks to this.”
Parry usually goes to train in the neighbouring Centre National d’Entrainement with an electric scooter. On Monday, she made an exception, allowing her mother to drive her to the stadium.
“I tried to approach this match as a run-of-the-mill match so as not to have too much pressure on my shoulders,” she explained.
“I tried to roll out my usual game. I tried not to think about the fact that it was a big match in the French Open. I tried to be as cool and relaxed as possible.”
Being the youngest female French player to win a match in the main draw here since a then 15-year-old Cornet in 2005, Parry now has to deal with the weight of expectations.
“It’s true that there are expectations. We’re French. We play at the French Open. There are expectations,” said Parry.
“I’m trying not to think about this and to focus on my game and what I have to do. I try not to think about everything around me and what other people might think.”
She next faces Belgian 20th seed Elise Mertens or Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)