It was a stressful Tuesday and Wednesday for the Australian Open field, with extreme heat and rain causing delays at Melbourne Park. The only player who did not seem to worry was Frenchman Enzo Couacaud.

While everyone else stressed over when to eat and warm up, when they might play, and thought through every minute detail of their game plans, the No. 191 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings relaxed.

“I had too much food, watched too many episodes of Friends, played cards and talked a lot of crap with my coach. We get along well,” Couacaud told ATPTour.com, cracking a laugh. “Over the past few days, my personality helped me big time. I’m a super chill guy off the court. Whatever comes, I’m happy with it.

“We had to wait, [so I] played cards and had a nap. I’m easygoing, I don’t over-stress things and I think that helped me a lot not to waste energy the last couple days.”

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His reward was a win against Hugo Dellien on his Australian Open main draw debut. The Frenchman could not help but smile knowing whom he will face in the second round: nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.

“I think it’s super exciting,” Couacaud said, later adding: “Everything he’s done in this sport, all the records, everything is outstanding. He hasn’t lost here since 2018.”

It will be the biggest match of the Frenchman’s life. The self-proclaimed “chill guy” is going to embrace the moment like he seemingly does everything in life.

Couacaud, who was born and raised on the island of Mauritius, is the son of a former hotel chain executive. He loved every second of living in the middle of the Indian Ocean, waking up on the beach.

“It’s wonderful,” Couacaud said. “I wish it for everyone, it’s fantastic. I probably had the best childhood I could dream of.”

The 27-year-old also enjoys golfing, wakeboarding and spending time with the people he cares about. Many of his friends have little knowledge of tennis, which he finds important.

“It’s super important, we share other things. And it’s people that truly care about me and who I am as a person, not only what I do on the court,” Couacaud said. “I had a friend that messaged me today and said he didn’t even know I qualified and that I’m playing Novak.”

It has been a long journey for the Frenchman to reach this moment. After starting in tennis as a kid playing with his family, there was not enough competition on Mauritius for him to advance his game as he grew up in the juniors. Couacaud moved to Paris to train.

“It’s a different world,” Couacaud said. “[On Mauritius you are] outside all the time, never watching TV or playing video games. Instead [you are] learning how to fish, wakeboard, dive. There [are] a million things to do out there.”

That was not as much the case in Paris. But Couacaud has worked hard to climb the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He played in Australian Open qualifying for the first time in 2014 and qualified for the first time this year. The Frenchman reached a career-high World No. 155 last February just before turning 27.

Through that journey, Couacaud has picked up new interests. While competing at an ITF Futures event in Vietnam, he spent time with American Evan Song. They turned on basketball.

“With the time difference the games were on in the morning. So we were watching games in the morning and somehow got hooked,” Couacaud said. “Even yesterday morning, the Warriors were playing at 7:30 a.m. I was playing in the afternoon but I still woke up and had breakfast in bed and watched the Warriors.”

Coucaud has become a big fan of the Golden State Warriors and superstar Stephen Curry.

“He’s not the tallest or strongest, always being criticised, yet he’s always found a way to thrive and be one of the best at what he does,” Couacaud said. “Massive respect for that.”

He added: “I remember after they won a couple championships, a couple reporters said he wasn’t going to win anything ever again because they had a couple bad seasons. Yet they found a way to turn things around and get into the championship. I really like the competitiveness that’s within him. Their ability of putting things together and finding a way is something I find fascinating.”

Couacaud will hope to put things together on Thursday against former World No. 1 Djokovic, the 21-time major champion. The Serbian will be his first Top 10 opponent. How will he game plan to stun the tournament favourite?

“I have no idea, to be honest. I’ll get into it with my coach, who coached another player who once faced him. Maybe he’ll have tips for me,” Couacaud said Patrick Frandji, who coached Aljaz Bedene. “A lot of guys have tried over the past couple years and nobody has succeeded.”

But like everything else, Couacaud will enjoy the opportunity and do the best to seize the moment. It is not just about him, after all, but the millions who will watch across the world.

“I just hope they enjoy the show. It’s a sport, it’s competitive,” Couacaud said. “But I think we have an incredible privilege to do the sport we love and do it as a living. We give a lot of people happiness and I think that’s key in this world. I just hope we can entertain people.”

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