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At Wimbledon, Maxime Cressy’s Throwback Style Helps Him Charge Forward

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“I lost each time,” he said. “I didn’t wish to try again.”

And yet, amid all this net-play pessimism, there’s Cressy, all 6-foot-6 of him, plus the mop of dirty blond curls that offers him an additional inch or two. He is available in behind his first serve, his second serve and on his opponent’s serve, each time he senses a probability. He is available in after every shortish ball he sees and even after his opponent passes him on three consecutive points. He believes in serve-and-volley with the fervor of a cult member, even whether it is a cult of 1.

“This style can take me to the highest,” he said after a first-round loss on the French Open, and when he says “the highest,” he means the No. 1 rating. In spite of everything, that loss was on clay, which has long been kryptonite to serve-and-volleyers.

Cressy has been battling conventional wisdom for a decade, attempting to master the serve-and-volley since he was a promising junior player in France. France’s tennis federation principally told him to chop it out, as if he were goofing off during practice. If that was the way in which he was going to play, they didn’t want much to do with him. Cressy wouldn’t budge.

“I loved it,” he said Tuesday night after knocking off Auger-Aliassime, the sixth-seeded Canadian and a stylish dark-horse at Wimbledon, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5). He’ll play one other American, Jack Sock, within the second round on Thursday. “Whether it is something I really like, I’d as well do it and make it as efficient as possible.”

Cressy trained at an academy during his last 12 months in highschool and was recruited to play at U.C.L.A., where coaches saw some potential for him in doubles. They were correct, and he became a collegiate doubles champion in 2019.

But Cressy never stopped believing in the concept his sport was ignoring a mode that might be incredibly efficient for a singles player with a giant serve, a capability to maneuver, unflappable confidence and a willingness to sprint, scurry, bend, crouch, squat and stretch for balls before they land. Hence the sore rear end after Tuesday’s match.

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