Lucas Pouille was seen sobbing on the bench after qualifying for the French Open.

Lucas Pouille was seen sobbing at his player bench on Thursday after qualifying for the French Open. A former world No 10, he has since slipped to No 670 and has been honest about his struggles with depression and alcohol. But the Frenchman will finally be back in the main draw of a Grand Slam and was rewarded with a special guard of honour with his young daughter.

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Pouille was reduced to tears after qualifying for his home Grand Slam tournament with a 1-6 7-5 6-0 victory over 22nd seed Jurij Rodionov. It marks his first appearance in the main draw of a Major since last year’s French Open when he received a wildcard but lost in the first round.

His success in qualifying was even more significant given his recent battles. A semi-finalist at the Australian Open just four years ago, injury and loss of form saw him tumble down the rankings before he hit a low point during last year’s grass-court season.

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Ahead of his triumphant run through French Open qualifying, Pouille admitted that he suffered from depression and started turning to alcohol. “I started to have a darker side and go into a depression that led me, after Roland Garros, in England, to sleep only one hour a night and drink alone,” he told L’Equipe.

The former world No 10 was forced to lie to his then-coach Felix Mantilla, adding: “It was impossible to close my eyes. I was all alone with Felix. I would go back to my room and look at the ceiling. I was sinking into a creepy thing. I stood up with my eyes blown up.

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“Every morning, Felix asked me: ‘Don’t you sleep?’ – ‘Yes, yes, I have allergies, carpet, pollen, grass…’ I was lying to him.” But Pouille managed to turn things around after realising that he needed to stop before things became even worse.

“I locked myself in, I didn’t tell anyone. (…) I was in a bad phase. And I made the decision to say stop. Otherwise, I would have ended up in Sainte-Anne, at the crazy house. For my mental health, I had to stop,” he explained.

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The 29-year-old hasn’t contested a tour-level event since last year’s French Open. He reached a Challenger quarter-final back in January but another physical setback saw him take a three-month break.

Before this week, Pouille had earned just two wins since his return in April – one at Challenger level and one in qualifying at a Challenger tournament. And the relief of making it back into the main draw of his home Grand Slam became apparent as he sat at his bench in tears following Thursday’s match win.

The emotional scenes continued in the locker room, where Pouille and his two-year-old daughter Rose were given a guard of honour from the French Open ball kids. “Now it’s already been four years since my injury, then getting down mentally,” the 29-year-old told Roland Garros after qualifying.

“Now it’s all about playing for pleasure, enjoying being on court, enjoying practising and trying to reach my goal, which first of all is to get back into the top 100. Then to be able to play the Olympics next year (in Paris) would be amazing. It’s been so hard, but now that’s why I appreciate all of this so much.

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