Bits and Pieces from the World of Tennis: 2014 Roland Garros special - UBITENNIS
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Bits and Pieces from the World of Tennis: 2014 Roland Garros special

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TENNIS Bits and Pieces – Numbers, curiosities and bits of news after the first 7 days of the 2014 French Open. Also injury updates for Tipsarevic and Del Potro. Joshua Bosco

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

Sunday, 25th May

Francesca Schiavone, 2010 French Open winner, fell in a straight sets defeat against Ajla Tomljanovic. This was Schiavone’s fourth consecutive loss at the first round of a Grand Slam.

Filippo Volandri lost to Sam Querrey, meaning the Italian has now lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament in his last 17 main draw appearances.

Monday, 26th May

For the first time since Petr Korda in 1998, the Australian Open champion lost in the first round of the French Open: World No.3 Stan Wawrinka lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez 4-6 7-5 2-6 0-6, hitting 62 unforced errors along the way. He’s the highest seed to fall in the opening round at Roland Garros since Andy Roddick (No.3) lost to Igor Andreev in 2007.

Facundo Bagnis celebrated his Grand Slam debut with a stunning 6-1 6-2 1-6 3-6 18-16 victory over Frenchman veteran Julien Benneteau, who was playing his 44th major. The Argentine player also had to save a match point in the 4h 26m marathon match, with the fifth set alone lasting 2h 24m.

Spanish veteran Albert Montanes was forced to withdraw after twisting his ankle in his first round match against Kenny De Schepper, in what was his 50th career Grand Slam.

Tuesday, 27th May

Not to be outdone by Stan, the women’s 2014 Australian Open champion Na Li also lost her first round match in Paris. She’s the first Australian Open champion to lose so early at Roland Garros since Lindsay Davenport in 2000. Na Li lost 5-7 6-3 1-6 to French youngster Kristina Mladenovic.
This is the first time in the Open Era that both the Australian Open champions lose in the opening round of the French Open.

After twelve failed attempts, Marinko Matosevic finally reached the second round in a Grand Slam tournament with a 7-6 6-4 6-7 7-5 win over Dustin Brown.

Wednesday, 28th May

Roger Federer became the first man in history to win 60 or more matches in all four Grand Slam tournaments. After defeating Diego Sebastian Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4, the Swiss player now (as of 28th May 2014) holds a 60-14 record at the French Open to go with his 73-11 at the Australian Open, 67-8 at Wimbledon and 67-9 at the US Open.

World No.1 Serena Williams bowed out of the tournament in the second round with a shock 2-6 2-6 loss to Garbine Muguruza. The four games won made this her worst result in a major in 288 matches; it was also just the third time she had lost before the third round in her 55 Grand Slam appearances.
Her loss also made this the first time in the Open Era that both the women’s No.1 and No.2 seeds have fallen before the third round in any Grand Slam.

As if this wasn’t enough for the Williams’ family, a few hours earlier her sister Venus had lost her second round match to Anna Schmiedlova 6-2 3-6 4-6.

Thursday, 29th May

Fernando Verdasco came back from a 0-2 deficit to win his 2nd round match against Pablo Cuevas 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 6-3. By doing so, he became only the sixth player to complete comebacks from two sets down in all four Grand Slams: he joined Federer, Becker, Krickstein, Noah and Nalbandian in this elite group.

Friday, 30th May

Not wanting to be outdone by the two top seeds, Serena Williams and Na Li, No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska crashed out of Roland Garros with a 4-6 4-6 loss to Ajla Tomljanovic, who was playing her first French Open. It was also the first time that the young Croatian had made it past the second round in a Grand Slam and her first win against a Top 25 player.

Big server Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man ever to reach the fourth round at the French Open after coming back from 1-2 down to beat Gilles Simon 4-6 6-3 2-6 6-2 7-5.

Roger Federer became the first player to reach the fourth round at the French Open for twelve times. The Swiss Maestro bettered the record set by Guillermo Villas who reached the last 16 on eleven occasions.

Saturday, 31st May

Rafael Nadal extended his winning streak at Roland Garros to a staggering 31 consecutive match wins, tying his own record set between 2005 and 2009. Back in 2009 Nadal’s streak came to an end in his fourth round loss against Robin Soderling, which up to today remains his only loss at the French Open.

With her 6-3 6-4 win over Ekaterina Makarova, Sloane Stephens is the only WTA player to have reached the fourth round in all six Grand Slams since the 2013 Australian Open. The American will now play No.4 seed Simona Halep for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sunday, 1st June

With a neat 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory over Marcel Granollers, Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. Unfortunately for him this could be the last of his achievements this week as he will now face World No.2 Novak Djokovic for a place in the semi-finals.

After nine consecutive French Open quarter-finals, Roger Federer was knocked out in the fourth round by Ernests Gulbis 7-6 6-7 2-6 6-4 3-6.

-Injuries update

Del Potro back on court!

On Thursday Former World No.4 Juan Martin del Potro, who underwent left wrist surgery on 24th March, completed his first post-operation on-court tennis training session.

The Argentine took to Facebook to tell his fans he had had a light 20-minute hit with his coach, Franco Davin, in which he hit some forehands and volleys and even tried some sliced backhands, to start what will be quite a long recovery.

Tipsarevic undergoes surgery

On Wednesday Janko Tipsarevic finally underwent surgery after being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, a foot problem which has kept him off the tour for the last 7 months.

It was a complicated surgery (cause there was so much damage ‘inside’), but it went well” Tipsarevic wrote on Twitter. The player has not yet given a date for his return.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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