The only European event of the week comes from France, with a Challenger 5 level men’s tournament, the Archi Factory Open Lorient taking place from Thursday 29th.
The tournament will have limited cross-border participation in operation due to the pandemic, with those residing in Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, Switzerland and the host nation France being allowed to play.
Germany’s Valentin Rapp will be the top seed, with the Swiss pair of Robin Gadola and Yannick Wilhelmi, along with Spain’s Ivan Perez and the French duo of Toufik Mekhalfi and Edwin Clain, all aiming for glory in Lorient.
We spoke to Toufik ahead of the event, with the Frenchman coming into this tournament off the back of claiming his first win on the Tour. He took victory at the Annecy Lake Open at the end of March, and he admits that it has given him more confidence.
“It was my first win on a PSA tour. It has a special taste. To win this PSA boosted me for the end of the season,” he explained.
“I was so happy to win this title, specifically knowing that it took me up 50 places on the world ranking. The work I provide with my coach and all the staff starts to pay but the road is still long.
“Winning the Annecy Lake Open made me more confident. I will definitely use this strength to go as far as possible at the Archi Factory Open Lorient.
“I don’t have to be stressed and I will consider each match one after the other. I will do my best to play the same way I played during the Annecy Lake Open.”
Once again, Mekhalfi will be playing on home soil, with the 19-year-old yet to play a tournament on the PSA Tour outside of his native France due to the ongoing pandemic. However, he is more than happy to be playing in his home country for the time being.
“It is always pleasant to play in my country. With the COVID we live the tournaments differently than before but I know that we are lucky to keep playing,” he admitted.
“I like French tournaments because my family and the people I care can come to see me but I am not sure that it changes the way I play. I hope that the situation is going to get better soon to travel all around the world freely to play PSA tours.”
Mekhalfi currently occupies the World No.160 spot in the rankings, having risen 47 places in the April update following his victory at the Annecy Lake Open. Next step, the top 100!
“The fact that I moved to World No.160 will take me to play in bigger tournaments. Now, my goal is to be top 100 by the end of the year. For this I have to work very hard,” the teenager said.