ROLAND GARROS – A bucket-list goal was achieved for Canadian Steven Diez Thursday at Roland Garros.
For the first time in his career, at age 29, the Canadian qualified for a Grand Slam main draw.
It was … a moment – you can see by the above photo, as he looked to his longtime coach Marcos Roy with pure joy.
The two have been crisscrossing the tennis planet together, working hard and grinding for this very moment.
Here’s what he said straight off the court, when Open Court caught up with him.
“It’s actually really hard to describe right now. I’m really really happy. I’ve worked so hard for this moment. I don’t want it to stop. I’ll be happy now, but tomorrow I’ll be on court again, working to try to win my first main draw match,” he said.
“But it’s so nice to finally make my first main draw, after so long. I’ve been close a few times. In Slams, you can lose to anyone, it’s so equal. Everyone plays so well.”
Diez, born in Toronto, grew up in Spain and spends a lot of time on the clay. So the fact that his first Grand Slam main draw would come at Roland Garros seems appropriate, somehow.
But he’s not picky.
“I wouldn’t care if it were on hard court, grass, or on the moon. I wouldn’t really mind,” he said.
First round against McDonald
As the qualifiers were placed, Diez got a decent outcome.
He faces American Mackenzie McDonald, a good young player who is returning from injury after having reached a career high of No. 57 in April, 2019.
McDonald played college tennis for UCLA and won the singles and doubles NCAA titles in 2016.
The 25-year-old is making only his second Roland Garros main-draw appearance. He lost to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in five sets a year ago.
The two are scheduled to square off Monday.
Money, points, confidence
Diez wasn’t unhappy that there were no fans on site for his final round qualifying match. He was playing a Frenchman, Enzo Couacaud.
“I prefer this – he didn’t have the crowd with him,” Diez said.
And while it will feel quite different in the main draw with few fans on site, Diez said that, “At the end of the day, it’s a Slam. There’s points, there’s money. Whoever wins, there’s a lot of happiness. Whoever loses will go back home and work towards the next Slam,” he said.
“Besides the money and the points – that helps, I’m not going to lie. But when the times are not that nice, I think this might help a little bit. The beginning of the year was pretty tough. And after the stoppage we had, it wasn’t that easy. I’ll just use this to build my confidence, and keep on going in the main draw.”
Diez will earn 60,000 Euros ($93,550 Canadian, $69,870 US) for making the main draw, with another 24,000 Euros if he can beat McDonald.
The 35 points already earned for qualifying, even if he loses in the first round, will bump him up some 20 spots to about No. 160 in the rankings.
Should he beat McDonald, he would climb inside the top 150.