André Merlin was born in Brazzaville in what was then French Equatorial Africa. He was the son of the colonial administrator Henri-Marital Merlin and his second wife Marthe Merlin (née Daireaux). Martial Merlin was at various times Governor General of Indochina, Governor General of French West Africa, Governor General of Madagascar and Governor General of French Equatorial Africa. André Merlin lived in both Brazzaville and Indochina during his childhood, which is partially described in the book Le fils du consul/The Consul’s Son by the French author Lucien Bodard.
Following the decline of the legendary Four French Musketeers in the early 1930s, André Merlin had been looked to as one of France’s best prospects, but he was never quite able to live up to other people’s expectations. In 1933, he notably lost the final rubber of the Davis Cup Challenge Round to Britain’s Fred Perry at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, a result that gave the British a 3-2 win in the tie and the trophy. France had held the Davis Cup since 1927.
André Merlin was given the nickname “the basset” because he was small in stature. He was a salesman by profession and led a troubled life due to alcohol addiction. He attempted suicide in March 1935 by drinking a bottle of veronal, but was found in time and survived.
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