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Mats Wilander Criticises ‘Underperforming’ French Players




Lucas Pouille (

Former world No.1 Mats Wilander has hit out at France’s best tennis players on the ATP Tour after they all failed to reach the last eight at this year’s French Open.


The French interest in the men’s draw ended on Monday when Gael Monfils lost in straight sets to former champion Stan Wawrinka. Despite there being five seeded Frenchman in the draw, Monfils was the only player to progress to the fourth round of the tournament.

It has been 34 years since a Frenchman has won a major title, which was Yannick Noah in 1983. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was there last player from the country to reach the final of a major at the 2008 Australian Open. The lack of success has prompted criticism from multiple grand slam champion Wilander, who described the performance of the contingent in their home grand slam as ‘disappointing.’

“It is disappointing, for sure,” Wilander told Reuters News Agency.
“If you look at those guys, (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, (Richard) Gasquet, (Gael) Monfils… look at their rankings… for no-one to get to the quarter-finals is really quite disappointing.
“I think they have underperformed, really. And then who is coming next? Lucas Pouille, okay… but right now this kind of golden generation has not got much more time. This group is not going to be around forever.
“You would have expected them to have maybe won a grand slam by now.”

There are currently 11 top-100 players on the ATP Tour from France, three of which are ranked in the world’s top-20. Both Tsonga and Richard Gasquet were predicted for great success after producing impressive results at a young age, but they are yet to shine at the majors. Tsonga is a former US Open boys’ champion that broke the top-50 at the age of 22. Meanwhile Gasquet reached his first ATP final at the age of 18, but has never made a grand slam final.

Coping under pressure

The expectation of trying to excel in your home grand slam was one that caused Lucas Pouille difficulty in Roland Garros. A two-time grand slam quarter-finalist, he crashed out in the third round to Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

“Even if you prepare for it, there is no magic wand to get rid of the tension. You can’t just put it aside, brush it aside.” Pouille said about playing in Roland Garros.
“You can prepare as much as you want, but sometimes the stress is overwhelming.”

Tsonga, who won the Lyon Open a week before the tournament, was more reflective about his earlier than expected exit. The French No.1 crashed out in the first round to Argentina’s Renzo Olivo in what was his worst performance at Roland Garros since 2005.

“There were other years where I didn’t play very well for the whole clay season and then I got to Roland Garros and played well,” he replied when asked about his momentum going into the event.

Whilst the men continue to experience difficulty in their home grand slam, the women are thriving. Both Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic have reached the last eight of this year’s tournament. Mladenovic, who defeated defending champion Garbine Muguruza on Sunday, admitted that she struggled with the atmosphere.

“It’s lots of pressure, like it’s an amazing atmosphere. Even for me, even if I had like a thousand people screaming and cheering up for me, it’s not easy to control the nerves and the pressure and everything.” She said.

There are also other factors to take into account when comparing both draws. The women’s section is considered to be one of the most open in recent time, illustrated by that fact only one player left in the draw (Simona Halep) has reached the final at Roland Garros. Meanwhile the men’s is headlined by the ‘big four.’

France is a country that has the ability to produce world class tennis players, but their search for a a male grand slam champion is something that continues to elude them.

How the French seeds have performed at Roland Garros (2017)

(12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – R1
(15) Gael Monfils – R4
(16) Lucas Pouille – R3
(24) Richard Gasquet – R3, retired
(31) Gilles Simon – R1

(13) Kristina Mladenovic – QF*
(28) – Caroline Garcia – QF*

*Still playing in draw

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Australian Open Daily Preview: The Women’s Semifinals




Ash Barty has reached the quarterfinals or better in four consecutive years at the Australian Open (

Thursday in Melbourne, World No.1 and Australia’s own Ash Barty looks to advance to her first Australian Open singles final.  But a red-hot, big-hitting Madison Keys stands in her way.  The second women’s semifinal also includes an American, as Danielle Collins faces Iga Swiatek just over 24 hours after both players survived their quarterfinals in the Aussie heat.


Also on Thursday, the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals will be contested.  The top three seeds are still alive in the women’s doubles draw.  Two of the top three seeds remain in men’s doubles, alongside two all-Aussie duos.

And Dylan Alcott, recently named Australian of the Year, will play in the quad wheelchair singles final, which will be the last match of his career.  It will be a huge day for Australian tennis across multiple disciplines.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Madison Keys – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

This is the second Australian Open semifinal for both women.  Barty first appeared at this stage two years ago, while Keys did so in 2015.  Both lost those previous semifinals to the eventual champions (Barty to Sofia Kenin, Keys to Serena Williams).  Ash has been unstoppable through five rounds.  She is yet to drop a set, and allowed her opposition only 17 games across 10 sets.  Keys survived a third-set tiebreak in the third round, but otherwise she has also advanced comfortably.  Barty leads their head-to-head 2-1, though they’ve only previously met on clay or in the Billie Jean King Cup.  Based on Barty’s current form, it’s impossible not to consider her the favorite.  However, Keys’ powerful serve and groundstrokes will apply plenty of pressure, as will the expectations that come with playing at her home Slam.  And two years ago in the semifinals, Ash wilted on a hot day against another American, Sofia Kenin.  But this is the first year where the women’s semifinals are occurring in the evening rather than the day, which will make for cooler conditions.  Also, this could become an indoor match based on rain in the forecast.  And most importantly, it seems Barty is more prepared to meet this moment than she was two years ago.  Her all-around skills, which have separated her from the rest of the tour, make Ash the favorite to reach her third Major singles final.

Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Danielle Collins (27) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

This is the second Major semifinal for both women.  Swiatek of course was the 2020 Roland Garros champion, while Collins also reached the semifinals here three years ago.  And unlike Barty and Keys, these players did not have a day of rest after their quarterfinals, which were both played midday during the hottest day of the fortnight thus far.  Notably, Collins played her match earlier, giving her more time to recover.  And she spent less than half as much time on court as Swiatek.  Danielle defeated Alize Cornet in straight sets, while Iga needed three sets, and over three hours, to overcome Kaia Kanepi in a physically and emotionally draining quarterfinal.  In their only previous encounter, which occurred last February in Adelaide, Swiatek was ahead 6-2, 3-0 before Collins retired.  Not too long after, Danielle underwent emergency endometriosis surgery, so it’s quite remarkable how Collins has quickly recovered and played the best tennis of her career.  Thanks to back-to-back titles last summer and this semifinal run, she’s poised to become the No.1-ranked American.  Normally Swiatek should be favored, but coming off what Iga endured just 24 hours earlier, and considering the fight Collins has displayed both on and off the court, an upset on this day would not be surprising.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (2) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia and Anna Danilina – The Japanese team won five titles in 2021.  However, just two weeks ago in Sydney, Haddad Maia and Danilina defeated Aoyama and Shibahara.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) vs. Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens (3) – Krejcikova and Siniakova won Roland Garros, Olympic Gold, and the WTA Finals last year.  Kudermetova and Mertens are a new team this season, after being on opposing sides of the net with different partners in last July’s Wimbledon final.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios (WC) – The Australians have thrilled crowds in defeating two seeded teams to this stage, including the No.1 seeds.  Granollers and Zeballos are yet to drop a set, and won two titles last year.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2) vs. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell – Ram and Salisbury are seeking their third consecutive Australian Open final.  At the US Open in September, they beat Ebden and Purcell in a third-set tiebreak by a score of 12-10.

Dylan Alcott (1) vs. Sam Schroeder (2) – In his last match before retirement, Alcott is playing for his sixth consecutive Major title.  Schroeder is the last man to defeat Alcott at a Major, at the 2020 US Open.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Conclude




Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday in Melbourne (

Wednesday’s men’s singles quarterfinals feature four top 10 players.  Daniil Medvedev faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in a rematch of the US Open semifinals.  And in matchup between ATP Next Gen champions, Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Jannik Sinner.


On the women’s side, 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek is joined by three players who have never reached a Major final.  Danielle Collins was a semifinalist here three years ago, Kaia Kanepi is 0-6 lifetime in Slam quarterfinals, and Alize Cornet had never previously reached the quarters.  With both of Wednesday’s WTA quarterfinals being first-time matchups, there is plenty of room for new territory to be seized.

Danielle Collins (27) vs. Alize Cornet – 11:00am on Rod Laver Arena

Both players survived grueling matches on Monday in scorching afternoon temperatures.  And the forecast is even hotter for Wednesday.  Collins required nearly three hours to hit her way through Elise Mertens, while Cornet and Simona Halep suffered during the hottest part of the day.  Both Collins and Cornet eventually prevailed 6-4 in the third.  The American is much more accustomed to playing in the heat, and is much more capable of controlling her destiny with her aggressive groundstrokes off both wings, especially her crosscourt backhand which was on fire in the last round.  With Danielle’s previous experience at this stage of a Major, she should be favored to achieve her second Australian Open semifinal.

Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Not Before 1:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Swiatek overcame a considerable hurdle on Monday.  Prior to her fourth round match, she had lost three of her last four matches at Slams when dropping the first set.  But as per Tennis Abstract, every time in her career when she’s then won the second set, she’s gone on to win the third as well, just as she did against Sorana Cirstea.  For Kanepi, this round presents the biggest hurdle of her career, as she’s lost all six times she’s appeared in a Slam quarterfinal.  Kaia has only won one of 13 sets in those matches, which have occurred at the other three Majors.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also held an 0-6 record in Slam quarterfinals, before breaking through in her seventh try at last year’s Roland Garros.  While the big-swinging Estonian seems due for a similar breakthrough, Swiatek’s more consistent, versatile style will likely draw plenty of errors from Kanepi.  Iga remains the favorite to reach her second Slam semifinal.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Jannik Sinner (11) – Not Before 3:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

A big factor in this match will be how much Tsitsipas has left physically, and how his elbow feels coming off a five-set battle with Taylor Fritz.  Stefanos also contested back-to-back four-setters in his two rounds prior.  Sinner has advanced much more comfortably, losing only one of 13 sets, and should be the far fresher player.  Tsitsipas leads their head-to-head 2-1, though all three matches have taken place on European clay.  Sinner feels primed for a breakthrough, and his authoritative groundies may keep Tsitsipas on the defensive.  Despite Stefanos’ significant edge in experience, the 20-year-old Italian has a great chance to achieve his first Major semifinal.  However, it likely won’t come without a huge fight from the Greek.

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Their aforementioned US Open semifinal from this past September was pretty one-sided, with Medvedev prevailing in straight sets.  And their rematch just a few weeks ago at the ATP Cup was even more so, with Daniil dominating Felix 6-4, 6-0 in only 68 minutes.  Their first meeting was by far their tightest, when the Russian needed a third-set tiebreak to beat Auger-Aliassime at the 2018 Canada Masters, when the Canadian was ranked outside the top 100.  As impressive was Felix’s last two victories have been over Dan Evans and Marin Cilic, Medvedev has appeared completely unbothered by Auger-Aliassime’s game.  And I expect Daniil to remain much more positive today after his unprofessional conduct against Maxime Cressy, where he openly complained his opponent was “lucky.”  He will be happy to be back on Rod Laver Arena, as he expressed frustration with getting scheduled on Margaret Court Arena multiple times.  He’ll also be happy not to be facing a tricky serve-and-volleyer like Cressy.  Medvedev should be able to advance to his fourth consecutive semifinal at a hard court Major.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Grand Slam

Australian Open To Allow Peng Shuai T-Shirts Following Backlash

Less than a week after footage surface of a fan being told to remove their T-shirt in support of the tennis star, officials now say such clothing is allowed.




The head of Tennis Australia has confirmed that fans attending the Australian Open will be allowed to wear ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ t-shirts after one attendee was told to remove theirs last Friday.


The Grand Slam has been under criticism after video footage emerged of a security guard asking one member of the public to remove their item of clothing or they would not be allowed into the facility. Shortly afterwards officials released a statement saying that the event doesn’t allow ‘clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political.’

Shuai is a former world No.1 doubles player and Grand Slam champion who made allegations of sexual assault against a senior Chinese official last year in a social media post published on Weibo. Shortly after that she disappeared from the public eye, sparking concerns over her wellbeing from the tennis community and the campaign ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ started. She has since resurfaced in public via videos and photos which has mainly been published by media outlets linked to the Chinese government. However, there are still fears she is being censored by authorities and the WTA has suspended their events in the country due to those concerns.

The original decision to ban the T-shirts from Melbourne Park drew heavy criticism from those within the sport. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova described the move as ‘pathetic’ and Nicolas Mahut said it showed a ‘lack of courage.’ Mahut, who is a former doubles champion at the Australian Open, questioned if the decision was influenced by Tennis Australia’s partnership with sponsors based in China.

The Australian Open currently has a five-year deal with Chinese alcoholic beverage company Luzhou Laojiao which began back in 2018. One of their courts is named 1573 Arena after the company’s Guojiao 1573 brand.

Amid the reaction, Tennis Australia has now done a u-turn and confirmed that those attending are allowed to wear ‘peaceful’ t-shirts as long as they are not disruptive at the event. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told The Press Association that there has been confusion over their stance on the matter.

“We were on the journey at the very beginning with the WTA and that’s because we’re well connected in the region. We agree with the WTA’s position,” said Tiley.
“However, coming onto the site we have some terms and conditions that are pretty clear and that is, if you are coming on site with the purpose of disrupting the safety and comfort of fans, you’re not welcome. But if you want to wear a T-shirt that says ‘Where’s Peng Shuai?’, you can come on site, that’s fine.
“There was a suspicion around the motivation of that individual coming on site but we’ve since contacted that person and told her that she’s welcome to come on site, she’s welcome to wear a T-shirt, but not bring a banner, because you can’t bring banners on site.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with a political or commercial statement. Our security people are trained to take a common sense approach, and I think that’s in the interest of everyone.”

Friday’s incident triggered a gofundme Page to be set up to raise money to print more ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ T-shirts. As of January 25th it has generated more than 400 donations which have generated over AUS$18, 000 in funds.

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