How The French Open Has Turned Into The Fairytale Slam - UBITENNIS
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How The French Open Has Turned Into The Fairytale Slam

Sunday at the French Open will be as much about the underdogs as it will be about the headline acts.




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On Friday evening Martina Trevisan suffered a first set thrashing before fighting back to record the biggest win of her turbulent career. 


The 26-year-old locked horns with Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari who was the third highest-ranked player Trevisan had ever played. On paper the odds were stacked against her but in a Grand Slam full of surprises she prevailed 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-3, to move into the fourth round and continue what is an extraordinary run for the Italian world No.159 who had never won a main draw match prior to this week in a major. 

“I’m so tired, but so happy. I’m living a dream. I don’t want this to end,” she said moments after stunning Sakkari. 

At one stage the prospect of Trevisan even playing a tennis match was up in the air. After experiencing a successful junior career where she reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams in the doubles, she took a four-year hiatus due to serious health issues. In a blog post earlier this year Trevisan spoke openly about her battle with anorexia and how she was ‘re-educated to eat’ once again. At one stage her mother would ‘run to pick peaches from the threes’ in order to get her to eat something. 

“Sometimes I think about that period. But I knew it was the right decision to stop tennis, to take my time, to rest, since I didn’t feel well at all,” she reflected.
“Now I’m here. So no matter what happened in the past, I’m here, I have a new life. Martina’s growing up. That is what is important.”

Trevisan’s ability to overcome adversity and shine at Roland Garros this year is just one of a series of dream runs to have taken place on Friday where the first half of third round matches were played. 

Nadia Podoroska started 2020 ranked outside the world’s top 250 and looked to be an unlikely contender to even play in the main draw of an event such as the French Open. Participating in the lower-level ITF Tour a trio of titles helped the Argentine surge up the rankings but it is in Paris where she has made a name for herself. 

Podoroska dropped only five games during her comprehensive win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who defeated Victoria Azarenka in the previous round, to become first female player from her country to reach the last 16 since Gisela Dulko in 2011. 

“It’s like a dream come true. It’s been an amazing tournament for me. I didn’t expect this result, so I’m very happy,” said Podoroska. 
“During the quarantine I improved a lot. I spent time with my coaches training for three months and I knew that I have been improving my game.” 

Next up for the Argentine is Barbora Krejcikova who is a former world No.1 doubles player but has been less fortunate when it comes to singles. Prior to the French Open, she has only played in the main draw of a Grand Slam twice and has suffered 15 losses during qualifying for majors. For Krejcikova the feel good factor wasn’t just the fact she won her third round match but she did so on what would have been the 52nd the birthday of her former mentor Jana Novotna, who died of cancer back in 2017.  

“It was very emotional for me, very special that I could win this match today,” Krejcikova said. “I would like to also dedicate it to her because she would be really happy for my result.”

Korda named his cat after his idol, now he plays him

In the men’s draw Sebastian Korda is yet to officially break into the world’s top 200 and was known best as being the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda. Although that has changed this week in the French capital. Coming through qualifying the 20-year-old saw off both Andreas Seppi and John Isner en route to the last 16. His reward is a meeting with the formidable Rafael Nadal.

“He’s my biggest idol. He’s one of the reasons I play tennis. Just watching him play, he’s an unbelievable competitor. From him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I’m on court, I try to be like him,” said Korda.
“Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy.”

At a young age Korda had to choose between ice hockey and tennis. Ironically his decision to choose tennis is linked to a member of the infamous Big Three but not his idol Nadal. 

“I went to the US Open with my dad and Radek Stepanek in 2009. He played Djokovic on Ashe 10:30 at night, totally packed. I thought it was the coolest thing. I went home, came back the next year and said, this is exactly what I want to do,” he reflected. 

As Korda relishes his showdown with Nadal, French fans are paying their attention to wild card entrant Hugo Gaston. Somebody who prior to the tournament had never recorded a tour-level win with his best-ever performance being a run to the semi-finals of a Challenger event. Impressively he is the only Frenchman to reach the last 16 despite there being no fewer than 23 men from his country ranked higher than him.

“It’s difficult to explain. It’s fantastic. It was a great match. I’m very happy,” Gaston said following his win over former champion Stan Wawrinka.
“To play in Paris, it’s fantastic. I try to take the pleasure every minute, every time.”

Everybody loves a good underdog story but what is it about the French Open that is triggering so many? It is the cooler conditions, the lengthy break in professional tennis due to COVID-19 earlier this year or something else? 

Whatever the reason may be the likes of Trevisan, Podoroska and Korda will exit Paris with at least €189,000 in prize money for reaching the fourth round. As to if they can go any further in the draw, fans will just have to wait and see what Sunday entails.  


US Open: Shelby Rogers Delivers; Serena Still A Threat To Win 24th Major




Serena Williams - US Open (photo Twitter @usopen)

After all of these years of playing in the U.S. Open, Shelby Rogers is finally a seeded player.


The Charleston, S.C., native has been playing America’s premier tennis event almost continuously since her debut in New York in 2010. She’ll turn 30 years old in a few weeks and has worked her way up the rankings to 31st in the world.

That’s a big achievement from the little girl who hung on the fences more than two decades ago to watch her older sister Sabra play high school matches that eventually led to an Al-American career for Sabra at Emory University. Sabra became a psychologist and, of course, is one of  Shelby’s biggest fans.


Rogers took the direct route. She didn’t play high school tennis, but left the classroom before high school to train in tennis, study online and play the junior circuit. She turned pro in 2009 at age 16.

Monday evening at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, It took Rogers awhile to start living up to her ranking. But once she turned the corner after dropping the first set in nine games, Shelby started looking like a seasoned top 30 player.

Rogers sort of blew The Netherlands’ slim Arantxa Rus away, taking a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the opening round of the U.S. Open. Rogers especially played the deciding 28th game of the match like the veteran pro she is. She hit one long forehand and netted one ball in that game, but otherwise she rode her big serve to victory in the clinching game. At 40-30, she delivered a huge first serve down the middle that Rus couldn’t put into play.


The way things are on the women’s tour these days, with no true leader while once-amazing top-ranked Iga Swiatek tries to regain her dominance, anything is possible.

Yes, even finally a 24th Grand Slam title for Serena Williams.

But this is about Shelby Rogers. She is playing the best tennis of her career nearly a decade and a half after her life as a professional tennis player started.

With any kind of luck, Rogers could leave New York ranked among the top 25 players in the world, or maybe higher if she continues to serve and play the kind of big-ball tennis she played  in the last 19 games Monday night.


So, what’s after Swiatek, who started the year on fire with a long unbeaten streak that went through the French Open and rewarded her with as many points as the confined totals of the Nos. 2 and 3 players. Of course, Ashleigh Barty’s retirement after winning the Australian Open opened the door for Swiatek’s rise to the top.

And then Wimbledon’s grass took care of Swiatek.

Nos. 2-5 Anett Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur are all outstanding players, but none currently fit in the great column. They appear to be waiting in line for Swiatek or another Barty-like player to step forward to rule the women’s tour.


Then there are almost totally unknown players such as Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. I hadn’t given Snigur much chance at all on the pro tour until her shocking U.S. Open first-round victory over multi-Grand Slam tournament winner and seventh-ranked Simona Halep. 

The last time I had thought about Snigur was when she upended Charleston’s Emma Navarro in the Junior Wimbledon semifinals and then won the Junior Grand Slam tournament.

At Junior Wimbledon in 2019, I thought Navarro, who also is now on the WTA Tour and is currently ranked 145th in the world, would roll past Snigur the way she had in the 2019 Junior French Open quarterfinals. But Snigur is so deceptive with her ground strokes that strike like lightning, she dominated Navarro at that Junior Wimbledon.

So, maybe the currently 124th-ranked Snigur may be ready to make a mark on the tour after scoring her first tour victory by defeating Halep.


Without Novak Djokovic, the men are about as unpredictable as the women, with the exception of one player. Rafa Nadal, of course, entered this U.S. Open, with a perfect 19-0 record this year in Grand Slams.

Daniil Medvedev is the defending champion at the U.S. Open, but even though he is ranked No. 1 in the world, it’s a long road to the final for the Russian. Medvedev hasn’t always been predictable.

And already, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas has been eliminated by a complete unknown, Daniel Elahi Galan.

Wow! The Greek star probably was about as much of a favorite as Medvedev.

And poor Dominic Thiem was cast on an outside court. And he lost. Just a couple of years ago, Thiem was winning the U.S. Open.

My top five picks in order would be: Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Medvedev and Andy Murray. Yes, Andy looks pretty fit.


James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at 

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Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.




Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.


The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

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Does WTA Need A Top Rivalry To Drive The Sport?

Iga Swiatek is the WTA’s dominant world number one but does she need a rival in order to drive the sport to new heights.




Iga Swiatek (@TennisHandshake - Twitter)

The WTA has a dominant world number one and a variety of talented players on the tour but the one thing it’s lacking at the moment is a top rivalry.


First of all it was supposed to be Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, then Ash Barty and Osaka and also Barty and Iga Swiatek.

However none of these match-ups created a top rivalry over a long period to generate an overwhelming amount of interest.

After Barty’s shock retirement, many people were left disappointed at the fact that her and current dominant world number one Iga Swiatek could not compete for the sport’s biggest titles in a fierce rivalry.

Now Swiatek sits at the top of the WTA rankings with almost a 4,000 point lead at the top. The rest of the field are very talented and that in itself is an intriguing aspect of the WTA’s appeal.

But the one thing the women’s game lacks is a top rivalry to generate a hype that the ATP clearly has right now.

As Mark Petchey said it’s an issue that needs solving soon as every sport has one, “Rivalries drive the sport. What they do is make sure that it manifests itself in a big polarisation of a large fan base, against another one,” Petchey was quoted as saying by Tennis365.

“You look across the board, over F1, look at the tribal nature of AFL, of Premier League football here. It’s a huge part of what you need to have a successful sport. That is the one thing that is missing from the women’s tour at the moment, is a superb rivalry, with a little bit of edge.

“That’s why I say I’m sad that Ash pulled up stumps, because I think that rivalry could’ve developed with Iga in that way. Would it have been quite as intense as the Rafa-Novak and Roger-Novak rivalries? Probably not. But it would have been there. Going into every major saying that you’re not looking forward to a specific clash potentially when the draw comes out, does hurt the tour a little bit. 

“You can’t keep saying ‘oh, anyone can win it’. Because you’re just not tagging anybody… you’re not setting the scene for something amazing that’s going to happen, a nice little volcanic eruption right at the back-end of a major. They need some people to be a bit more consistent and getting through, because that’s what will be a massive driver for the WTA.”

It’s hard to argue with those points of view from Petchey as rivalries are what are talked about for decades after players have retired.

It will be interesting to see whether Swiatek will continue to dominate the rest of the field or whether someone can build a rivalry with the Pole heading into the remainder of the season.

The next big WTA event of the year will take place at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on the week of the eighth of August.

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