(Toronto) Gabriel Diallo left the field looking down, but he arrived in the press conference room with his head held high. Losing in straight sets of 4-6 and 5-7 to world No. 18 Alex de Minaur disappointed him, but his tournament as a whole gives him hope for the future.

Diallo showed up on Wednesday afternoon on court 1, the third in importance of the competition site, the torso bulging and with the desire to extend what was already a dream week.

The day before, he had defeated Daniel Evans, 21st racket in the world. His first career victory on the ATP Tour. In his second match, he faced de Minaur, a seven-time winner on the circuit.

If Diallo can’t match his opponents in experience, the 21-year-old certainly can with his power. The 2.03m guy was smoking hot throughout the match. Of course, each athlete prefers to identify their faults before their qualities in their record, but in this match, Diallo really has very little to be ashamed of.

Only his first serve let him down at crucial moments. But this blow is an integral part of all his successes. He even pointed out to his coaches on the side of the field, in the middle of the match, how helpless he was without his serve. With only 57% of successful first serves and points won on first serve, it is virtually impossible to defeat a member of the world’s top 20.

“I still have to polish my serve, my first serve after my serve and try to get a little more consistency from the backcourt and then improve my volleys, but overall it was still a great experience,” said Diallo after the meeting.

Especially from the second game of the match in the service of de Minaur, where he forced five draws. Or in the third game of the second set, when he saved two break points. Or, from the next game, when he offered himself three break points. After converting the third, he stopped, eyes tight, to welcome the charge of applause from a crowd that was asking for more.

Diallo, however, was a victim of his serve, he who was broken on two other occasions. Still, in the face of impressive and delirious opposition from the Australian, Diallo continued to be creative. Instead of staying in the back of the field and accepting the fate that was in store for him, he tried to be the aggressor, going up to the net or being ambitious on certain balls.

Which is a credit to this player who was only in his fifth game on the best circuit in the world.

“I have a pretty aggressive style of play, and then he’s someone who has no problem staying close to the baseline and bringing everything back. The harder you hit, the faster the ball comes back. »

Alex de Minaur showed the Canadian public why he is considered one of the best defensive players on the league.

Playing against him is practically like knocking against the wall of a school. And the wall never loses.

The 24-year-old was unfazed. He was running and hitting every ball. Facing a player like this can drive you crazy, because there is no way out. He sees everything, he anticipates everything and he returns everything.

De Minaur won 43% of the points on first serve return. While Diallo won only 28%.

The Aussie has just arrived from a final in Los Cabos and Diallo has learned the hard way that all the power in the world can’t compete against a racquet that acts like a magnet.

Diallo had come to Toronto with the desire to learn, of course, but also to prove that he had his place in this kind of tournament, as he had revealed to La Presse on the sidelines of the National Bank Open.

Since he has achieved his two objectives, he returns home with the feeling of accomplishment.

“I [went] to get my first game, but I’m a little disappointed that it’s over now. But a year is a long time. A career is long. If you’re too hard on yourself, your career can be very long,” he added.

The Montrealer will jump eight places in the standings thanks to his victory in the first round, jumping from 141st to 133rd place, in addition to receiving the not insignificant sum of $47,620.

Beyond the statistics and the stock market, Diallo not only confirmed expectations, he exceeded them.

“This game opened my eyes. I learned a lot. Just to see the attitude of professional players, the way they take care of themselves. »

He now went back to the drawing board to perfect himself, but from now on his pencil would be better sharpened.