Will This Be A French Open Unlike Any Other Before, As Nadal Claims? - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

Will This Be A French Open Unlike Any Other Before, As Nadal Claims?

The balls and the weather seem to point in this direction. Will this help Thiem’s game? The strenuous defensive game of Djokovic will probably suffer. What about the women’s draw?

Avatar

Published

on

Rafa Nadal - Roland Garros 2020 (via Twitter, @rolandgarros)

Article translated by Tommaso Villa

 

In Paris, the talk of the tennis town is the pandemic, obviously, closely followed by the low temperatures of this French Open, the rain, the heavy courts, the even heavier balls, and the struggle to end the points quickly, although not all matches last as long as Giustino vs Moutet, which took six hours and five minutes to complete, albeit spread over two days.

THE MEN’S TOURNAMENT – Factor in that many athletes arrived in Paris with little or no familiarity with the clay, since many have played close to no matches and have struggled to train as well – such tangents are upset harbingers.

Rafa Nadal has been complaining about the new Wilson balls – a great indirect ad for Babolat (I’m not stating he did it because he has played with Babolat racquets his whole life, before the hate mail and the trolling begin; there are so many other good manufacturers, starting with Dunlop) – and he is the hands down favourite to win the tournament, so it can be imagined how everybody else, not as muscular as he, might be feeling about them. It is indeed true that the lower bounce hinders his game, but how many players can boast biceps as big as Rafa’s to keep up their baseline aggression with no drops in their performance?

Does Djokovic have that sheer power? Maybe not. Does Thiem have it? Maybe so. Few players seem able to charge their shots like the Austrian who reached two finals and two semi-finals in the last four editions. Djokovic is the N.1 returner and an extraordinarily grinding counterpuncher, but a defensive style is often unsustainable if the balls are heavy – could he suffer from it?  

It seems to me that Mats Wilander is right – I have attended close to 160 consecutive Majors, so I had never watched so much Game, Schett & Mats content on Eurosport as I have this last month… – when he says that there is no clear-cut favourite, but that the potential winners are these three (Nadal, Djokovic, Thiem) while everyone else lags far behind, particularly in the bottom half of the draw, where whoever might be harbouring finalist ambitions would have to beat both Nadal and Thiem before facing Nole on the third Sunday, much like the last of the Horatians had to do slay the three Curiatians in the ancient Roman legend.

Who else has a powerful game that isn’t utterly serve-dependant, since it won’t be easy to win many free points with the first shot? Matteo Berrettini has the forehand to do it, but his serve (the least renounceable weapon in his arsenal) will be blunted by the surface. However, his excellent drop shot will be even more important in these conditions. If a player has a good touch, it is pretty hard for an opponent to get the ball off the ground and instil some pace once it’s landed on the soaked surface. Berrettini’s greatest hurdle will be the need not to lose his focus when the serve won’t fetch him the usual bountiful of points. However, the shot might still set up many quick wins for him anyway, in the event of high percentages with the first serve. After today’s debut with Pospisil, his draw isn’t easy (he could face Struff, a player with similar qualities, in the third round) but he could still make it to the quarter finals showdown with Djokovic, unless the Serbian loses along the way, but against whom? Khachanov, maybe? Well, the Russian has tons of power, and he reached the final eight in Paris last year as well as getting to the third round as a youngster in the two editions before the last one. Karen occasionally lacks in patience and always lacks in mobility, given his Gargantuan frame.

Medvedev is already out, as I thought after seeing the draw – I even wrote it. This is his fourth consecutive loss in the first round of the French Open, so it’s not a matter of heavy courts or heavy balls for him. Daniil even lives in France, so he should be able to find some time to train on the clay a bit more. Behind the three favourites, I would point to Tsitsipas, although the Greek, alas, has developed the bottling habit, losing a couple matches he’d already won, against Coric at Flushing Meadows after wasting six match points and against Rublev in the Hamburg final, when he got broken at 5-3 in the third while serving for the title. At the same time, Tsitsipas can really play on the dirt, despite the no show in Rome against Sinner; he’s reached a final in Madrid and a semifinal in Rome, so let’s not count him out. Especially as an underdog.

Zverev is another guy who is capable of reaching the highest highs and lowest lows, and he could be more dangerous than Berrettini and of Monfils, who’s already been knocked out. The question mark with him pertains the scars that he might still have due to those 15 double faults in the Flushing Meadows final. We cannot know how he’s coping, but a player who has won in Madrid and Rome and reached the quarters twice in Paris is certainly able to upset anybody as well, before perhaps losing against a less gifted opponent in the next round. The years go by, and Wawrinka isn’t the same player he used to be, as was fully on display in Rome, but if there is a player who can thrive in these conditions, that’s Stan the Man. He’s admitted it himself, as he’s never lacked the power to hit through a wild boar. To summarise, the court-and-ball factor can’t be overlooked, as it might upend technical assumptions that would be valid everywhere else.

THE WOMEN’S DRAW – The same goes for the ladies. How are the skinnier ones going to spice their shots up? I thought that Muguruza would be at home with these balls (balls that are not good enough “to play with your dog,” according to Dan Evans), and instead she had to scratch her way out of her first round match against Zidansek – 8-6 in the decider. Serena Williams struggled but then shrugged off Kristie Ahn without dropping sets, while last year’s runner-up Vondrousova got steamrolled and Zavatska broke her strings thrice, having to borrow her coach’s racquet to conclude her losing effort against Bertens! We are indeed witnessing a strange tournament.

In both draws, a considerable number of seeds already bowed out, a phenomenon that I once more attribute to the peculiar environment. The women’s draw had a losing K factor, since yesterday Keys, Kerber and Kuznetsova got eliminated (the day before it was Konta, Kontaveit, Kovinic and Korpatsch… Kenin would better keep her guard up today!), but the defeats of other strong athletes like Vondrousova, Yastremska and Muchova lead me to believe that Nadal is right, even though he might just being superstitious about his chase for his 13th French Open (not a good number then…) and for his 20th Major. 

Focus

Maria Sakkari reaches her third quarter final of the season in Ostrava

Avatar

Published

on

Maria Sakkari got through to her third quarter final of the season after beating Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 at the J&T Banka Open in Ostrava with five breaks and 32 winners. 

 

Sakkari has already reached two quarter finals in 2020 in St. Petersburg and at the Western and Southern Open in New York and scored the fourth win of her career against a top 5 player. 

Sakkari went up a 3-0 lead with a double break. Svitolina pulled one of the two breaks back in the fourth game to claw his way back to 1-3. Sakkari converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3. 

Svitolina earned her first break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Sakkari battled to deuce four times and converted her third break points in a marathon fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Sakkari earned another brek to open up a 5-3 lead to close out the match after 1 hour and 16 minutes. 

“Obviously winning against a player like Elina, the way I played I think that made me happy today. I think playing like me gives me a lot of confidence. Getting another top 5 win is very important for me. When I was starting my career, I had people telling me that I cannot play indoors. I think it was a big mistake listening to them. I have beaten very good indoor players in St. Petersburg and here in Ostrava. I have developed my game in a way that I can now be dangerous indoor sas well. My serve is big, and I am playing a little bit more aggressive. So I am super happy. I have proved these people wrong”, said Sakkari.

Continue Reading

Focus

Grigor Dimitrov rallies from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar in Antwerp

Avatar

Published

on

Grigor Dimitrov came back from one set down to beat Pablo Andujar 4-6 6-3 6-4 at the European Open in Antwerp.

 

Andujar earned the break in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Dimitrov went up an early break in the second game to take the second set 6-3. The Bulgarian player raced out to a 4-1 lead with a double break in the decider. Andujar pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Dimitrov saved four match points in the eighth game to hold serve at deuce and converted his first match point in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4. 

Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat this year’s US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta 5-7 6-3 6-4 after 2 hours and 33 minutes Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the opening set to build up a 5-2 lead. Carreno Busta fought back by winning five consecutive games with two breaks in the ninth and eleventh games to win the first set 7-5. 

Humbert saved four break points in the fifth game before breaking serve in the eighth game to win the second set sending the match to the third set. Humbert fended off four break points at 2-3 in the third set and broke serve to love to take a 5-4 lead, when Carreno Busta made three consecutive groundstroke errors. Humbert has improved his win-loss record to 18-11 and won the ASB Classic title in Auckland last January. The Frenchman scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Danil Medvedev in the Hamburg quarter final. 

Humbert will face either US Taylor Fritz or South African qualifier Lloyd Harris. Fritz dropped six of his first service points in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over his compatriot Reilly Opelka. 

Milos Raonic beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in 86 minutes setting up a second round match against Cameron Norrie. Bedene fended off two match points, when he was serving at 5-6 15-40 to force the second set to the tie-break. Raonic rallied from 1-3 down to win the tie-break 7-4. The Canadian player reached the final at the Western and Southern Open in New York and lost to Borna Coric in the semifinal in St. Petersburg.  

Continue Reading

Focus

Julia Goerges Announces Retirement From Tennis

Julia Goerges announced her retirement from tennis after over two decades in the sport.

Avatar

Published

on

(@JuliaGoerges - Twitter)

Former top 10 player Julia Goerges has said her goodbyes to tennis after announcing her retirement from the sport.

 

In a shock announcement the 31 year-old from Regensburg, Germany announced her retirement from the sport that she had been playing since she was five years old.

Speaking on Instagram and her website, Goerges paid tribute to the sport she has been apart for over two decades, “I am writing to you, because I am ready to say “Goodbye”,” The German explained.

“When I started playing tennis at the age of 5, I would never have thought that we would go such a long way together.

“You have given me so many different types of emotions throughout our journey and I am very thankful for everything you have shown and taught me. I learnt how to deal with the toughest losses but also enjoy the most amazing wins of my career, to fight back many times when I was struggling with you and through it all we never lost sight of our dreams.

“I always knew how I would feel when it is time to say goodbye to you, and that moment has arrived. I am ready to close the tennis chapter of my life and open a new one, which I am really excited about. Thank you for everything you have given me. You will stay forever in my heart.”

The news comes as a shock to many people as earlier in the year Goerges had originally said that she would continue for another 2-3 years.

However in the current circumstances, Goerges probably felt that this was the perfect timing to announce her retirement from the sport.

It was a career that started by winning the biggest title of her career in Stuttgart before a serious injury derailed her progress.

However a late surge in her late-20s, saw her win a total of 12 WTA titles and reach the semi-finals of a grand slam for the first time at Wimbledon 2017.

Now it seems Goerges’ 2nd round exit against Laura Siegemund was the last match of her career as she sets her sights on being involved with tennis off the court especially with her new performance app ‘Recast Tennis.’

A career that she can be very proud of, Happy retirement Julia Goerges!

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending