Former Mixed Doubles Slam Champion and Author Gordon Forbes Passes Away Due to Covid-19 - UBITENNIS
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Former Mixed Doubles Slam Champion and Author Gordon Forbes Passes Away Due to Covid-19

The South African is the third champion mourned by fans in a few days, following Dennis Ralston and Alex Olmedo. What follows is a tribute written by a close friend and one-time opponent, Joseph B. Stahl.

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Forbes died on December 9, at age 86. He won the 1955 French Open (partnering Darlene Hard) and reached another final at Roland Garros in 1963, this time in the men’s doubles partnering Abe Segal, his long-time on-court companion. After retiring, he wrote several books, including “A handful of summer” and “Too soon too panic”, published in 1979 and 1995, respectively. In 1959, Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta was on scoreboard duty as a teenager during the Davis Cup tie between Italy and South Africa in which Forbes played both singles and doubles. What follows is a rememberance written by Gordon’s friend Joseph B. Stahl (also the author of the drawing above), whereas here can be found the tributes to Ralston and Olmedo.

 

Gordon L. Forbes of South Africa, an Inadequate Memoir of a Master Raconteur and a Helluva Tennis Player by Joe Stahl

I first met Gordon in August 1962 when we both played in the grasscourt Meadow Club Invitational Tennis Tournament at Southampton, Long Island, N.Y.; it was a lead-in event to the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills.  I really wasn’t good enough to be in that tournament, but somehow Grenville Walker, who ran it, let me in the draw.  I was paired against Gordon in the first round and really had no idea who he was, although he’d reached the third round at Wimbledon only a few weeks earlier. 

On the morning of the Monday on which the tournament began, I was practicing on the Meadow Club’s grass with Arthur Ashe when Arthur called me to the net and, pointing to a tall fellow three courts down the way, told me, “That’s your first-round opponent.”  Gordon was practicing with a skinny kid who looked like Gordon had taken him out of his pocket and unfolded him; it was Cliff Drysdale. 

Gordon didn’t look like much to me—mind you, I didn’t think I could beat him, but I thought we’d have a reasonably competitive match.  Unfortunately, however, I made the dreadful mistake of practicing so long and so hard with Arthur the whole morning (at one point Arthur told me, “If your forehand were as good as your backhand, you’d be great”—you see, it was the one day a year that I could hit a backhand), that by the time my match with Gordon began that afternoon I was exhausted, and Gordon beat me -love and -love. 

The diminutive but very famous New York Times tennis reporter Allison Danzig was in the stands—he had come all the way out to Southampton from Manhattan to cover the match—, and I remember his withdrawing a small notebook from his pocket when it began, but after only a few games, he put it back into his pocket and never took it out again.  As Gordon and I shook hands at the net at the end of the match, I said to him, “Damn, Gord-o, I thought you were a gentleman.  Don’t you know that a gentleman always lets an overmatched opponent win at least a courtesy game?  It’s like it says in the Bible, never punish a man with more than 40 stripes ‘lest thy brother seem vile in thy sight.’ ”

Gordon thought reflectively for a moment and in one of those great philosophical inspirations he often had, he gently instructed me, “Joseph, that is all very well for religion, but tennis is different:  In tennis it is a law that you should always beat your opponent as badly as you can.”  And that generously imparted wisdom was the beginning of a friendship that lasted for decades.

We corresponded after that, and in 1979 when I read his book A Handful of Summers, I saw that, in it, he claimed he had lost in the first round of that Meadow Club Tournament in 1962 to Roger Werksman—not beaten me!—because he’d just gotten off an international airline flight at JFK Airport and driven all the way out to Southampton and was tired.  So I sat down and wrote Gordon a letter on my legal stationery (I conducted a long masquerade as an attorney at law, 1963-2004) in which I told him I was going to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against him for prematurely canceling me out of existence, and I enclosed a copy of the Meadow Club draw showing that he’d beaten me in the first round, “6-0, 6-0.”  I ended the letter, however, by telling him that all would be forgiven if he would buy me a drink whenever we might meet at Wimbledon, this was agreed between us, and for a long time he would invite me into the Last Eight Club at Wimbledon every year, “Gord-o” would buy me a drink, and we would have a lot of amusing chit-chat with the other characters hanging around in the Last Eight.

At the time I read his book, I was so taken with the comedy, the charm and the sense of it that I decided to buy seven copies of it to distribute to friends as Christmas presents.  At that time, Russell Seymour, who had played on the South African Davis Cup team with Gordon, was the tennis professional at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club, and I asked Russell where I could find copies of the book.  He told me that Gordon’s sister Jean, who lived in Texas, had a supply of them, he gave me her phone number and address, and after speaking with her by phone, I sent her a check and she sent me the seven books accompanied by a charmingly reminiscent letter about tennis people we both knew. 

“A handful of summer” by Gordon Forbes (Photo by Ubaldo Scanagatta)

It was so shortly after that, only a day or so, that the news broke that Jean had died, that I thought her letter to me might be the last one she’d ever written, so, after photocopying it, I sent the original to Gordon in South Africa, knowing he would like to have it.  Gordon’s second book, Too Soon to Panic, which of course I also read, was really an extended letter to Jean in her afterlife, and not long after its publication, Radio Wimbledon, the All England Club’s radio station for which I worked as a commentator, interviewer and talk-show participant, asked me to interview Gordon about the book, which I did.  It is one of the best interviews I ever conducted, because I knew Gordon so well from his books and from personal acquaintance, so I knew what cues to give him to enable him to say everything he wanted to air.

Another incident about A Handful of Summers comes to mind.  In, oh I guess, about the mid-1980s, I was visiting a doctor friend in Miami who took me on his hospital rounds with him one day.  As we were navigating the hospital’s halls, a doctor stopped us and told my friend that if he wanted to see the most gorgeous collection of women ever assembled, to go to such-and-such a room, because there was an endless procession of beauties constantly coming there to visit a particular patient.  So we went, and the patient turned out to be the French tennis player Jean-Noël Grinda, who was there for a coronary angioplasty.

None of the fabled women were there, but I asked Jean-Noël if he had read Gordon’s book A Handful of Summers, at which he groaned and said, “Ohhh, I have terrible memories of Gordon Forbes!”  “Why is that?”, I asked him.  “Because,” he said, “Gordon beat me 7-5 in the fifth set at Bournemouth one year after I led him 5-1, 40-15 in that set.”  So I told him, “Listen, I am going to send you this book Gordon has written, and I swear that when you read it, you will actually like Gordon Forbes.” 

The upshot of it was that I sent Jean-Noël the book at the French address he gave me, and Jean-Noël wrote back to me telling me he enjoyed the book and appreciated my sending it to him so much that he was reconciled to Gordon, and Jean-Noël invited me to stay at the Hotel Westminster Concorde on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, which Jean-Noël owned, any time I wanted, for free.  Alas, I never had a chance to take him up on it, but that is a tribute to how good the book is.       

One thing that struck people about Gordon, not least me, was that he never seemed to age.  Decades would go by, yet Gordon still looked exactly the same as he always had.  One day in 1989 I was playing tennis at Lew Hoad’s Campo de Tenis on the Costa del Sol in Spain with Heather Brewer Segal, who had been married to Gordon’s doubles partner Abe Segal.  Gordon at that time was in his mid-50s.  Well, the subject of Gordon came up, and Heather said, “You know something, it just isn’t fair!  Gordon still looks like he’s 28 years old!”  And it was true.  I told Heather, “Maybe he read The Picture of Dorian Gray, and he has a portrait of himself growing old for him in an attic.”

Lew Hoad sold Gordon’s Handful book in the shop at the Campo de Tenis, and Lew used to pontificate that it was, as Lew put it in his Australian lilt, “the grytist book on tinnis evah writtin.” 

Of course the real hero of Gordon’s Handful is Abe Segal, the Abe Segal, that is, that Gordon portrayed him to be, an author of zany antics who was constantly poking fun at the foibles of mankind.  And that portrayal is a testimonial to how creative Gordon could be.  For the “Abie,” as Gordon always referred to him, of that book is more a figment of Gordon’s lively imagination than an authentic representation of the real Abe Segal.  I say that because Abie published a memoir in 2008 called Hey, Big Boy! that destroyed the entire marvelous impression of him Gordon had created in HandfulHey, Big Boy! is so terribly written in such atrociously illiterate English and reveals Abie to be such a clumsy oaf of a character, that I wrote to Gordon telling him this and how disappointed I was in Abie’s book.  Gordon, who at that point did not even know Abie had written a book, wrote back to me lamenting that “He just had to have a book.”  Had Abie not written that book, he would have lived forever as the grand Falstaffian hero Gordon had painted him as.                    

One of Gordon’s greatest bravura performances of wit was the after-dinner speech he gave at the annual pre-Wimbledon International Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain Ball—“the IC Ball”—at the Dorchester Hotel in London, I guess in about the mid-1990s.  Gordon’s talk was so loaded with his cleverness and hilarious witticisms, tempered by his wry take on the humor of things, and it delighted his audience, including me, so much that when he stopped talking I wanted to cry because I wanted him to continue talking forever.  From the moment he spoke his first sentence he had people laughing in hysterics, he was so funny, and I wished I had said the things he came up with.  It was the champagne and caviar of entertainment. 

But besides being a sage observer of and reporter on life, Gordon was also a helluva tennis player, for he did have wins over Hoad, Laver and Drobny.

I have a bad habit of making pictures of things that strike my fancy, and in 1962 I did a pencil drawing of Gordon from a photo of him that appeared in World Tennis magazine that shows Gordon hitting a backhand.  When I showed the drawing to Russell Seymour, he took one look at it and said, “That’s Forbsey’s backhand alright.”  Here it is:

Joe Stahl, by his own confession, masqueraded as an attorney at law for 41 years, retiring in 2004, since which, he has done three things very badly:  write; paint; and play tennis.  He is hoping to get into the Tennis Hall of Fame as the worst player in the history of the sport.  He and Gordon Forbes were friends for many years, exchanging good-natured insults the whole time.  Joe was a commentator at Wimbledon and an editor and contributor at Tennis Week magazine.

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The Generation Inspired By Serena Williams

On Tuesday Williams revealed for the first time that she will begin to step away from the sport after a career lasting more than two decades. Throughout her career she has helped shaped the women’s game into what it is now.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA/status/1557532696972238856/photo/3

It is fair to say that the landscape of women’s tennis wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Serena Williams and her sister Venus.

 

It was during October 1995 that Williams made her WTA debut as a 14-year-old who was thrashed 6-1, 6-1, in her opening match in the qualifying draw at the Quebec Open. As the years passed she went from being an unknown name to one of the most successful female athletes in the history of sport. An athlete can rarely evolve into an entire brand but Williams was one of the few who has managed to do so.

In 1999 she claimed her first of 23 Grand Slam titles at the US Open where she became the first Black woman to win a major tennis event in the Open Era. Before her, the last to do so was Althea Gibson 49 years earlier. Little did she know at the time that among those watching her rise on the Tour would be some who ended up being her rivals.

Her legacy is more than her being Serena. I started playing because of her. I’m sure there’s so many other girls that started playing because of her, so she literally built champions,” Naomi Osaka told HBO’s The Shop in 2021.

Osaka was one of the many players who managed to take on Williams on the Tour after growing up idolising her. They have played against each other five times with the most memorable clash occurring in the final of the 2018 US Open which was marred by controversy involving Williams and a run-in with the umpire.

“When she broke me in that one game and I had to try and save break points. I was like ‘What would Serena d– Oh, she’s right there.’ Oh wait, what am I doing?” Osaka revealed afterwards.

Williams, who turns 41 next month, was at one stage unbeatable in the sport due to her sheer power. At her highest she won 34 matches in a row during the 2013 season and spent a total of 319 weeks as world No.1. She has won 73 titles on the WTA Tour, including an Open Era record of 48 on hard courts alone.

“I’ve learned a lot from them [Serena and sister Venus]. People always tell me that you’re going to be next whatever blah blah blah and Serena has been considered the GOAT for at least the second half of her career and she never succumbed to that pressure,” America’s Coco Gauff told reporters in Toronto earlier this week.
“I think she overcame it and I think that’s something I take from her and try to learn from it. Not that I’m at her level and experiencing the same pressure she is, but in the moment I try to emulate that.
“For me, I grew up watching her. That’s the reason why I play tennis and tennis being a predominantly white sport it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game and it made me believe I could dominate too.”

One of the most striking things about Williams is that her influence on the sport has been in various ways. She inspired many non-white players in her home country to take up tennis. Some argue that the all-African American final at the 2017 US Open between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys was a product of the Williams sister’s effect. Others have been inspired by her ability to form a successful business portfolio outside of tennis, the fact she returned to the sport after becoming a mother or her stance on campaigning for equal rights. The bottom line is that Williams appeals to many people for various reasons which Keys once summarized.

“Venus and Serena Williams were both huge inspirations for me to play tennis. What they’ve done on court is incredible. What they do off court in business, helping other girls and championing for equal pay is also so inspiring. They motivate me to do and be my best,” Keys wrote on Twitter in 2019.

Emma Raducan recently praised the length of Williams’ career. Later this month she will play in her 81st Grand Slam main draw 24 years after making her debut at the 1998 Australian Open. There is almost a 21-year gap between her winning her first WTA title (February 1999) and her last (January 2020).

“It’s incredible her career. She has achieved so much,” Raducanu said. “And to see her around in this US swing is really inspiring. She keeps playing because she obviously loves the game.
“That longevity of a career is something that a lot of the players, me especially, aspire to achieve.”

As the likes of Osaka, Raducanu and others battle it out on the Tour, Williams has taken a backseat in recent months. In an eloquently written article for Vogue Magazine, she explains that the term retirement is a phrase she struggles to use. However, this will most likely be happening at this year’s US Open. She conceded it is time to move on and the desire to grow her family made competing as a professional athlete no longer feasible.

You know that at one point she’s going to retire. But when she actually is going to announce it, it’s just shocking. Because you think these kinds of players will play forever,” Bianca Andreescu commented.
“She’s not afraid to be herself and to show all her emotions on the court, off the court, what she stands for. I know she’s doing a lot of things off the court as well to help inspire. It’s incredible.’
“I hope that I can achieve maybe half of what she achieved and continue on her legacy in some way.”

Williams was once asked when she thinks about being referred to as the greatest female player of all time. She responded that she would rather be considered as “one of the greatest athletes of all time.” Perhaps her legacy in tennis has nothing to do with what she has won throughout her career. Instead, it is embedded in the generations of players who have been inspired by her.

At this week’s National Bank Open Williams bowed out of the tournament on Wednesday to Belinda Bencic in what was her final match at the tournament.

“I’ve always loved playing here. And, yeah, I wish I could have played better, but Belinda played so well today.” She said during her on-court interview.
“I’m terrible at good-byes. But good-bye, Toronto.”

As for what lies ahead, the American star will play a few more tournaments before saying goodbye to life as a tennis player for good.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Compelling Matchups Scheduled All Around the Grounds on Thursday

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A look at the grounds of The All-England Club (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 4 play is headlined by top names such as Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Those names are all considerable favorites in their second round matches, so other matchups on Thursday’s schedule may be more compelling and competitive.  And with many of those encounters scheduled at the same time, multiple screens are recommended.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Filip Krajinovic (26) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Second on No.2 Court

Despite his usual poor behavior, Kyrgios survived in five on Tuesday against British wild card Paul Jubb, who is ranked outside the top 200 in the world.  But Nick is in strong form this month, with an 8-3 record on grass, having reached the semifinals of both Stuttgart and Halle.  Krajinovic is also in the midst of a strong grass court season, coming off a run to the final of Queen’s Club.  Like Kyrgios, he also required five sets to advance in the first round.  That was actually Filip’s first-ever win at SW19, as he was 0-4 prior to this fortnight.  Krygios leads their head-to-head 3-0 at all levels, though they haven’t played since 2015.  On grass, Nick’s formidable firepower should be plenty to prevail again over Filip, as long as he can maintain his composure.


Elena Rybakina (17) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Second on Court 12

On Tuesday, Andreescu achieved her first career victory at The Championships.  Bianca had only played five tour-level matches on grass ahead of this year, though she’s now 5-2 on grass this month.  Rybakina reached the fourth round of Wimbledon a year ago, but lost two of her three grass court matches coming into this event.  In their first career meeting, I give the slight edge to Andreescu based on recent form.  And while Elena has accumulated 22 wins this season, only four of them have come at Majors, and none of those four against a top player like Bianca.


Barbora Krejcikova (13) vs. Viktorija Golubic – Second on Court 18

This is only Krejickova’s fourth singles match since February due to an elbow injury.  Her opening round victory was her first since returning to the tour.  Golubic was a surprise quarterfinalist here a year ago, when she defeated both Danielle Collins and Madison Keys.  Yet she has not been able to follow-up on that result, as she has a losing record since that run.  They have split four previous meetings at all levels.  Their most recent clash occurred two years ago in Dubai, with Barbora prevailing 6-1, 6-2.  But her lack of match play, along with Viktorija’s grass prowess, make Krejcikova an underdog on this day.  While results on other surfaces have not followed, Golubic is now 13-7 on grass since last season, which includes a semifinal appearance earlier this month in Nottingham.


Karolina Pliskova (6) vs. Katie Boulter (WC) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Pliskova was the runner-up a year ago, losing the championship match to Ash Barty 6-3 in the third.  Unfortunately a hand injury forced her to miss the first two months of 2022, and she’s only 9-10 this season as a result.  Boulter is a 25-year-old Brit who pushed Aryna Sabalenka to three sets at last year’s event, and is 8-3 on grass at all levels this season.  And just like week, Boulter beat Pliskova on grass in Eastbourne 6-4 in the third.  Now can Katie repeat that result on her country’s most prestigious court?  She’ll certainly have the full support of the Centre Court audience, and her experience last year on this court could prove extremely valuable.  Considering Pliskova has only twice won back-to-back matches this year, an upset on Thursday feels entirely possible.


Alex de Minaur (19) vs. Jack Draper – Third on No.1 Court

This could easily become the most competitive show court match of the day.  And the British crowd will be vociferously behind Draper, especially late in the day on the tournament’s second biggest court.  Jack is a 20-year-old Brit who last year took a set off Novak Djokovic on Centre Court.  And he’s collected 31 match wins at all levels this season, which includes four Challenger titles as well as a semifinal run just last week in Eastbourne.  But de Minaur is also having a strong season.  The Australian has 25 wins, all at tour level, and was also a semifinalist in Eastbourne.  Both players won their first round matches in straight sets, so they’re surely feeling fresh and confident.  While Alex’s defensive skills will force Jack to strike some extra balls, Draper’s offensive weapons will be rewarded on this surface.  And the crowd’s encouragement may be the x-factor Draper needs to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Jordan Thompson – Tsitsipas prevailed in four sets on Tuesday, bringing his Wimbledon record to just 4-4.  He’s 1-0 against Thompson, who is only 8-12 this season at tour level.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Ricardas Berankis – Nadal is now 31-3 on the year, and seemed rather unbothered by his chronic foot injury in the opening round.  Earlier this season in Australia, he defeated Berankis in straight sets.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove (LL) – A victory for Swiatek on Thursday would be her 37th consecutive win, tying her with Martina Hingis for the longest women’s singles win streak across the past three decades.  Lesley is a 30-year-old ranked 138th in the world who at last year’s Wimbledon earned for first-ever main draw win at a Major by defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Simona Halep (16) vs. Kirsten Flipkens – Halep is on an eight-match win streak at Wimbledon, dating back to her title run in 2019.  36-year-old Flipkens has said this will be her last-ever singles tournament.  She was a semifinalist here in 2013. 

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu – Gauff scarcely survived the first round, overcoming Elena-Gabriela Ruse 7-5 in the third.  But Coco should be able to settle into the tournament from here, especially against Buzarnescu.  She’s currently 127th in the world, and on Tuesday won her first WTA-level match in nearly a year.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Second Major of 2022 Begins on Sunday

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A shot from the grounds of the French Open (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The second Major of the year is upon us, with its unique Sunday start.  Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam event where first round singles play is spread across three days. 

 

The men’s draw is headlined by 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, defending champion Novak Djokovic, 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the ATP’s breakout star of the last 12 months, Carlos Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old Spaniard will play his opening match on Sunday, as will top ATP names like Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev.

The women’s draw features 12 Major singles champions, five of whom have won this event: Iga Swiatek, Barbora Krejicikova, Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko, and Garbine Muguruza.  The 28-year-old Spaniard plays perpetual draw-buster Kaia Kanepi on Sunday.  The Order of Play also includes the red-hot Ons Jabeur and US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who faces France’s Kiki Mladenovic.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Ons Jabeur (6) vs. Magda Linette – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

Outside of Iga Swiatek, Jabeur is the WTA player with the most momentum heading into Paris.  Before losing to Swiatek in the final of Rome, Ons was on an 11-match win streak, coming off her title run in Madrid.  She’s now 17-3 on clay this season, and has reached the fourth round of this tournament the last two years.  She’ll be a considerable favorite against Linette on Sunday, though Magda could easily test the sixth seed.  The 30-year-old from Poland was a quarterfinalist this year at clay events in Charleston and Strasbourg, and she owns victories over some top names at Majors, including Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina.  They’ve met twice before on clay, with both matches going to Jabeur.  That includes a three-set encounter at this event a year ago.  I expect a similar result on Sunday.


Hugo Dellien vs. Dominic Thiem (PR) – 11:00am on Court Simonne Mathieu

Thiem is a two-time French Open finalist, but he is still fighting for his first win in over a year.  Since coming back from his wrist injury, he is 0-6 at all levels, with all those matches occurring on clay.  Earning that elusive win in the best-of-five format may prove challenging for an out-of-form player.  This will be Thiem’s first match against Dellien, a 28-year-old from Bolivia who has played 43 matches on clay this season at all levels.  He’s accumulated 30 wins, and advanced to two Challenger finals.  However, Hugo is yet to defeat a top 40 player this year.  While Dominic is not currently a member of that group, and is not performing at that level, taking out a Major champion at a Grand Slam event remains a daunting task.  At a tournament where Thiem has fond memories of success, I expect Dominic is earn his first win since last May.


Garbine Muguruza (10) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Second on Court Simonne Mathieu

Muguruza is a two-time Major champion, and won the third-biggest title of her career at November’s WTA Finals in Guadalajara.  But since that title run, Muguruza has struggled mightily, with a record of 7-8 in 2022.  She’s won back-to-back matches only once this season.  And in the opening round, she’s drawn one of the sport’s most dangerous floaters.  Kanepi has made a career out of upsetting top seeds at Majors.  As per Tennis Abstract, she owns nine top 10 wins at Grand Slam events, over the likes of Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, and most recently at January’s Australian Open, Aryna Sabalenka.  Kaia is a seven-time quarterfinalist at Majors, including two times at Roland Garros.  Her only previous meeting with Muguruza took place eight years ago in Melbourne, when Muguruza prevailed in three sets.  But considering Garbine’s recent form, and Kaia’s history at Majors, this match is definitely deserving of an upset alert.


Carlos Alcaraz (6) vs. Juan Ignacio Londero (Q) – Fourth on Court Philippe Chatrier

Alcaraz has rapidly become one of the ATP’s players.  Carlitos is 28-3 in 2022, with four titles.  He is No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, and is within 200 points of the two players ahead of him (Nadal, Tsitsipas).  The teenager arrives in Paris on a 10-match win streak on clay, having taken back-to-back titles in his home country.  Londero is a former top 50 player who reached the fourth round of this event in 2019.  But he is coming off multiple seasons with a losing record, and hasn’t played a match since early-April.  Alcaraz should not have much trouble dismissing Londero on Sunday, though it is always a treat to see the Spaniard’s formidable skills on display.


Leylah Fernandez (17) vs. Kiki Mladenovic – Fourth on Court Suzanne Lenglen

Fernandez has not immediately been able to follow-up on her thrilling US Open run from last summer.  Despite winning a title in Monterrey, she hasn’t reached a quarterfinal at any other event this year.  But still only 19-years-of-age, Leylah undoubtedly has some big results ahead of her.  Mladenovic was top 10 player in 2017, the same year she was a quarterfinalist at her home Slam.  But the Frenchwoman is 2-4 in Paris since, and only 2-10 this season at all levels.  While Kiki will certainly be motivated by the Parisian crowd, it would be surprising if she could upset Leylah, as the Canadian remains a dogged competitor who thrives on big stages.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Sloane Stephens vs. Jule Niemeier (Q) – Stephens was the 2018 runner-up in Paris, and reached the fourth round a year ago.  But she’s 0-4 on clay in 2022.  Niemeier is a 22-year-old German who won an ITF-level event on clay last month.

Grigor Dimitrov (18) vs. Marcos Giron – Dimitrov is only 12-11 lifetime at Roland Garros, though he was a semifinalist in Monte Carlo this season.  This is a rematch from last year’s French Open, when Giron defeated Dimitrov after Grigor retired during the fourth set.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) vs. Juan Pablo Varillas (Q) – Auger-Aliassime is still looking for his first main draw win at Roland Garros.  He is 8-6 on clay this year.  Varillas is a 26-year-old from Peru who has won 19 matches on clay this season at all levels.

Maria Sakkari (4) vs. Clara Burel – Sakkari has some scar tissue to overcome at this event, as in last year’s semifinals, she was one point away from defeating eventual champion Barbora Krejicikova.  Burel is a 20-year-old from France who is a former junior No.1.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Sebastian Ofner (Q) – Zverev has reached the second week of this tournament four consecutive times.  Ofner is a 26-year-old from Austria who prevailed at a Challenger event in Prague last month.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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