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
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.
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
“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.
Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice
The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.
This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.
Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.
“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.
As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.
“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”
Del Potro’s comeback delayed again
There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.
However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.
“Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.
Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.
The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.
RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?
Vasek Pospisil dispatches James Ward in Eastbourne
Vasek Pospisil is into the second round at Eastbourne.
The Canadian won his first match on grass of the year beating the local favourite James Ward.
Vasek Pospisil is through to the second round of the Viking International ATP 250 in Eastbourne after beating the Brit James Ward in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes on court number two.
“It was a good match, I played pretty well, I thought I served well and he is a tough opponent on grass because he has a tough first serve but I was pretty sharp and played well when I needed to and happy to get the win”.
It was the Canadian who had the first chance to break at 1-1 and he got the early break and that one break was good enough for him to serve out the first set.
The second set was much of the same and actually was identical to the first with the world number 66 getting the break to take a 2-1 lead but faced a breakpoint when consolidating the break.
Again that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and book his spot in the next round. This is Pospisil’s first win since the month and after the match, he spoke about how the last couple of months have been for him.
“It was good I just took a break from the tour just to refresh the mind and the body and I hadn’t seen my family in nine months so it was a good reset and I felt I needed a break to kinda be excited about touring and the covid conditions and now I’m back and I am happy to be back and I am playing well so it was a nice break.”
Pospisil will now face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the next round after the Spaniard beat the Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.
Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon
The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.
When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.
The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.
“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”
Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.
Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.
“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”
In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.
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