Darcis Recapturing Best Form Late In Season
It's family first for Belgian
For Steve Darcis, the future is now. The Belgian isn't dwelling on a mid-season slump, during which he won just two of nine matches from Roland Garros through Wimbledon. He's also not thinking about what could have been due to lost time.
On Monday, Darcis cruised past Emirates ATP Rankings No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0, 6-4 in the first round of the China Open, continuing his reversal of fortune. Last week, Darcis defeated Ze Zhang before falling to World No. 4 Zverev, 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in a tightly contested second-round match at the Shenzhen Open.That performance followed his Davis Cup heroics, where he pushed Nick Kyrgios to five sets before winning the decisive rubber against Jordan Thompson to lead Belgium into the Davis Cup final against France.
Monday's victory over the recent US Open semi-finalist Carreno Busta is the result of a two-year effort to produce better outcomes as Darcis enters the next phase of his career. In May, at 33, Darcis achieved a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 38 after reaching the Istanbul quarter-finals and winning the Bordeaux Challenger. And although he endured lean times in June through August, Darcis seems to have recaptured some of his best form.
"Physically, I've improved with my new coach," Darcis said. "We're a good fit. Since I've improved physically, I've also managed to better my on-court game."
Instead of lamenting the heart-breaking loss to Zverev in Shenzhen, Darcis is instead focusing on what he can accomplish this week in Beijing. "You have to fight all the time," Darcis said. "Sometimes, you suffer a tough loss, like I did last week against Zverev. Of course, that loss stays in your mind, but you have to move past it as soon as possible. The key is to have no regrets and to fight as hard as you can."
Darcis might have a chance to erase that result from his memory and exact revenge against Zverev should both players reach this week's semi-finals. Zverev, the China Open's second seed, meets England's Kyle Edmund, and is positioned in the same half of the Beijing draw as Darcis.
Darcis would relish the opportunity to face the rising star again, rather than back down from it.
"It's a big deal; that's why you take up tennis -- to play big matches on the big courts," Darcis said. "One day, [Zverev] will be the World No. 1. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish off last week's match, despite so many chances, but I was very happy with how I played.”
Besides Zverev, Darcis fancies his chances against other Top-10 players. "There isn't much of a difference between Top-10 and Top-30 players," Darcis said. "[Top-10 players] are just more stable throughout the year; that's why they are in the Top 10. I have chances against a lot of guys; I can cause problems against a lot of my opponents. Even though I lost against 'Sascha' last week, I still feel like I accomplished something."
The recent return to form comes after Darcis missed a significant chunk of the summer swing due to injury and personal matters. The Belgian was forced to retire during his second-round match against David Ferrer at Wimbledon due to a back injury. He remained inactive for a month before returning at the Meerbusch Challenger in Germany.
"This year, it wasn't so much the injuries," Darcis said. "I had a back problem at Wimbledon, but my daughter also had surgery and I had to attend to that. When you have a family, you have to be at home. It's family first, then tennis."
Through it all, Darcis has managed to remain strong, play at a high level and maintain a solid spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings. "I'm happy to be able to have stayed in the Top 100, considering the few number of tournaments I was able to play," Darcis said. "It's good to have my family's support -- and it also helps when you're winning."