Cressy Can Be Very Dangerous Player

By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, January 9, 2022

Playing before drunken Bulldogs Maxime Cressy earned a college education in stress management.

Squaring off against tennis’ raging bull was an experience in professional intensity for the final debutant.

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Top-seeded Rafael Nadal defeated American qualifier Cressy 7-6(6), 6-3 in the Melbourne Summer Set 1 final to claim his 89th career ATP crown.

Afterward, the king of clay praised the 6’6″ serve-and-volley stylist as a very dangerous and oppressive opponent on faster surfaces.

“I think he has a good potential,” Nadal said of Cressy. “He’s going to be a very uncomfortable player for every opponent, for the top opponents, for the lower ranking opponents. It depends, as most of the players.

“I think he’s coming from the university if I’m not wrong, so he’s young on the tour, so he has room to improve. I mean, he went very fast up on the ranking. Probably when somebody does his improvement with very short period of time, it’s because his level is much higher than what his ranking says today.”

Because today’s tennis is largely a baseline battle and since many top players, including Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, are most comfortable returning from deep behind the baseline, the 2009 Australian Open champion believes Cressy’s relentless aggression and front-court attack can pose problems.

“I’m sure that on hard, indoor, grass, he can be a very dangerous player,” Nadal said. “And I am really sure that if he’s mentally prepared – I don’t know him, he looks quite nice and humble and professional – so if he’s able to stay focused and do what he has to do, he’s going to be much higher on the ranking at the end of the season without a doubt.”

Contesting his first ATP final, the 112th-ranked Cressy called on his past experience as a collegiate standout playing for UCLA against rowdy, inebriated crowds like the Georgia Bulldogs fan base to cope with the stress test.

“[Facing Nadal] was a phenomenal feeling. I was a little scared at first,” Cressy said. “I’m not used to that kind of crowd. But I did play in front of crowds like this in college at UCLA or when we played USC, our rival school.

“But like that, I’ve never experienced that much of a crowd before. It was very intimidating, and playing Rafa, it was very difficult for me at the beginning, but as I play him more and more, I believe I’ll handle it better…

“The college experience has helped me so much to deal with a lot of stressful situations, and playing for a school, playing for my team at UCLA is definitely something very big, and it can get very stressful in handling these kind of situations, especially playing in places like in Georgia, University of Georgia, where it was packed at night with a lot of drunk people. Playing these kind of conditions helps so much.”

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The 24-year-old Cressy started the 2021 season ranked No. 168 and is now projected to crack the Top 100 and rise to a career-high ranking of No. 75 in the live rankings thanks to his Melbourne final run.

Despite today’s loss, Cressy carries the confidence of feeling his attacking game “was working really well, especially even though it was a little tight, I still thought that he wasn’t comfortable. He wasn’t feeling very comfortable returning.”

Now, Cressy will try to keep taking opponents out of their comfort zone playing throwback tennis to continue his ranking rise.

Can the former UCLA Bruin become Mr. Mayhem on the ATP Tour?

Cressy is convinced he can pose problems for most opponents and cope with any drunken antagonists who may spring up along the way.

“No, I feel it’s very efficient because it puts the player not in their safety zone, and I believe it’s going to be efficient against everyone,” Cressy said. “I played a lot of players and haven’t really seen many guys actually enjoy playing it, that kind of style. No, I’m very happy about it.”

Photo credit: Getty

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