At 26 years of age, Thibault Karmaly is getting ready for a rather special Roland-Garros experience. As the winner of the French heats, the professional journalist will be one of eight gamers who will come together at the Porte-d’Auteuil on Friday 25th May for the final of the Roland-Garros eSeries tournament, and his dream is to claim victory in the stadium that he has always admired. We talked to Thibault.

How did you find out about the Roland-Garros e-sport tournament?

I saw a post on Twitter and thought it would be a good opportunity to try the game out before everyone else. I wasn’t expecting to win the tournament.

Do you play video games a lot?

I used to play a lot before I became a journalist, but I play much less now. There haven’t been any tennis games for a long time. Tennis fans are desperate for a well-designed game that can take the place of Top Spin, which was a fantastic game back in the day.

What do you think of the game?

It could do with some fine-tuning, but it’s nice to play. There are a few bugs, graphic details that need improving, but the foundations are good. The players are well-done, the animations aren’t bad, and I was told that the game would evolve in real time using player feedback, so that’s good. It’s modern.

Do you play tennis?

Yes, I started when I was 6. I got to 15/5 (equivalent of UK 4.2) and I helped run my club in Houppeville in Normandy. I haven’t been an FFT member for the last year and a half because it’s a bit trickier now I live in Paris.

Did your experience as a player help you during this tournament?

Definitely. Most of the other players were used to playing in e-gaming tournaments (FIFA, Taken, etc.). They were used to managing the stress and tension, but I was more at ease with the tactical side of the game. I could read the game better. I knew, for example, that it is difficult to cope with three backhands followed by a fast forehand. That’s another good thing about the game: it’s faithful to what really happens on the court.

Et nous avons un champion de France qualifié pour la grande finale des RG Eseries by BNP Paribas! Rdv le 25 mai à #RG18 ! pic.twitter.com/OJWOjKLFoe

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) April 25, 2018

Did it make you want to start playing tennis again?

Yes, definitely. That, plus the start of the clay season, the tournaments in Madrid and Rome on the television, and Roland-Garros staring in a week’s time. It really makes you want to play again.

How are you going to tackle this final?

There will be eight of us, who have all come through the national heats. Apparently, the Chinese player is very good, but we’ll see. I’d love to make a Frenchman win in a Grand Slam final. But the more you put into the game, the more stressful it is. And it’s quite awe-inspiring. The Brazilian told me that he’d love to meet Gustavo Kuerten if he won. Me, I’d like to dance Saga Africa with Yannick Noah.