French tennis has achieved a new milestone at this week’s Rolex Paris Masters, but it is one that nobody wanted.
At the start of this week 10 home players were entered into the draw, but after three days of competition they have all crashed out. The first time in history that no French player has reached the third round of the tournament since it was expanded to a 64-player draw back in 1990. The outcome occurs during what has been a difficult season for the men’s elite in the country.
“It is an awful season for most of the French players, but we are certainly capable of winning against the Croatians, even if they’re great players.” Richard Gasquet commented about the issue ahead of France’s Davis Cup clash with Croatia next month.
The highest ranked Frenchman is currently tour veteran Gasquet at 28th. Meaning for the first time since 1996 there will be no French player will be in the season-ending top 20. The outcome has lead to players being placed under scrutiny in a country with high expectations that hosts one of the four grand slam tournaments. The last home player to reach the final at Roland Garros was Henri Leconte in 1988. For the women, it was Mary Pierce in 2005.
“It’s harder than before because it’s tougher. There’s a lot of good players. We still have good French players who can play well.” Said world No.31 Gilles Simon.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve lost forever. I would be more pessimistic for the four or five seasons to come rather.
“But there’s still a lot of good players. We have a draw with 48 players here (at the Paris Masters). We had ten French players in the draw. It’s not that bad. Of course, the level is not as high as we want it, but still we’re here.”
Simon is the only player from his country to win multiple singles titles on the ATP Tour this season. Triumphing at the Maharashtra Open in January and the Moselle Open in September. Furthermore, three of his compatriots has also lifted ATP trophies in 2018. Gasquet (Rosmalen), Gael Monfils (Qatar) and Lucas Pouille (Open Sud de France).
At present, France has 10 players ranked in the top 100, but eight of those are over the age of 27. The two exceptions are Pouille (24) and Ugo Humbert (20).
“There are players that are older than us on the circuit that have better ranks who still win big tournaments. So it’s doable on the years to come.” Simon Commented on a possible French resurgence in 2019.
“I don’t think that Richard (Gasquet) is playing less well than before. I know that he can actually win quite well. He’s missing two good opportunities in the French Open and in Wimbledon to have very good outcomes. When I saw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga yesterday, I’m not concerned either.”
Regardless of their difficulties, team France could still end 2018 on a high if they prevail in the Davis Cup final. They will play Croatia in Lille between November 23-25, a country they lost to in the semi-finals of the competition two years ago. Croatian tennis currently boasts two players in the world’s top 20 with Marin Cilic and Borna Coric.
List of French players in the top 100 (men only)
Note: rankings based on week commencing 29/10/2018
Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.
Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation.
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune.
However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing.
“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”
Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face.
“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said.
25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match.
Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th.
Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
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