Roland Garros Daily Preview: Djokovic, Alcaraz, Wawrinka, Thiem Play on Monday - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Djokovic, Alcaraz, Wawrinka, Thiem Play on Monday

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Court Suzanne-Lenglen has a new look in 2023, as it’s been fitted for a roof starting next year (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Day 2 in Paris is the second of three days featuring first round singles action.

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will make their 2023 Roland Garros debuts on Monday, with both being heavy favorites in their opening rounds.  So this preview will dive deeper into the first round matches of two other Major singles champions: Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem, both of whom are fighting to regain their form of yesteryear.

Two of the day’s other most appetizing matchups include two Italians with previous success at this tournament.  Fabio Fognini will look to upset a top 10 seed when he takes on a struggling Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Martina Trevisan plays a resurgent mother in Elina Svitolina.

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


Felix Auger-Aliassime (10) vs. Fabio Fognini – Second on Court Simonne-Mathieu

Auger-Aliassime is a meager 13-9 this season, and just 1-2 on clay.  Felix has not been fully healthy, as only a few days ago, he withdrew from Lyon due to a shoulder injury.  A year ago at this event, he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets, while being coached by Uncle Toni.  But in this match, FAA is on upset alert, against a former Roland Garros quarterfinalist.

That result for Fognini occurred 12 years ago in Paris.  The biggest title of Fabio’s career also came on this surface, when he won Monte Carlo in 2019.  The 36-year-old Italian is only 4-9 on the year, though two of those victories took place recently on clay in Rome, when he defeated both Andy Murray and Miomir Kecmanovic.

Their only prior encounter also occurred and clay, which was four years ago in Rio.  Felix prevailed in straight sets on that day.  But on this day, the unpredictable Fabio may be a slight favorite to eliminate the tenth seed in the opening round.


Stan Wawrinka vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Second on Court 14

Wawrinka’s French Open title run took place eight years ago.  Stan reached the quarterfinals or better at this tournament in five of the last 10 years.  But injuries have derailed the 38-year-old’s career in recent years, and he’s just 12-10 this season at tour level.

35-year-old Ramos-Vinolas was a quarterfinalist in Paris seven years ago.  His only Masters 1000 final also came on this surface, six years ago in Monte Carlo.  A year ago here, he gave Carlos Alcaraz a scare, going up two-sets-to-one before losing in five.  But in 2023, Albert is just 6-16 at tour level.

Wawrinka has dominated their history 7-0, but they haven’t played since they met in the quarters of this tournament in 2016.  Can Stan recapture some of the magic he’s displayed in the past at this event?  On Monday, he’s the favorite to advance against a tough clay court opponent.


Elina Svitolina vs. Martina Trevisan (26) – Third on Court Simonne-Mathieu

On Saturday, in just her third WTA tournament since becoming a mother for the first time, Svitolina became the champion in Strasbourg.  Elina is 22-9 at Roland Garros, having reached the quarterfinals three times. 

Trevisan equaled that result back in 2020, then she surpassed it a year ago, reaching the semifinals of this event.  Yet in 2023, Martina is only 11-13 overall, and 4-4 on clay.

In their first career meeting, Trevisan should be favored.  This will be a quick turnaround for Svitolina from Strasbourg, and she is not yet re-accustomed to playing so many matches within a short time span.


Dominic Thiem vs. Pedro Cachin – Third on Court 6

Between 2016 and 2020, Thiem reached two finals, two more semifinals, and another quarterfinal in Paris.  But since a serious wrist injury sidelined him in 2021, Dominic is 0-2 at this event.  The Austrian is 11-15 this season at all levels, and is coming off two Challenger events on clay earlier this month.

Cachin is a 28-year-old from Argentina who reached the final of a Challenger event on clay in April, before advancing to the round of 16 at the Madrid Masters thanks to impressive victories over Francisco Cerundolo and Frances Tiafoe.  Pedro advanced to the second round of this event in his French Open main draw debut a year ago.

They have never played at tour level, but they did meet at a Challenger tournament last year on clay, with Cachin prevailing in straight sets.  However, it’s worth noting that was Thiem’s first event in nearly a year after returning from injury.  On Monday, I expect the two-time finalist to rediscover enough of his form to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Karolina Pliskova (16) vs. Sloane Stephens – This is a matchup between two players who have each achieved two Major finals, with Stephens winning the 2017 US Open, yet neither arrives in Paris with much form.  Pliskova got off to a strong start on the year, but is just 2-2 on clay, and has been dealing with a knee injury.  Sloane is 9-11 at tour level, though she is coming off a semifinal run this past week in Rabat.  Stephens leads their head-to-head 4-1, which includes a straight-set win at this event in 2021.

Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Aleksandar Kovacevic – Djokovic is a two-time champion of this tournament, and is 85-16 here lifetime.  He’s reached at least the quarterfinals for 13 straight years, though he’s been battling an elbow injury, and is just 5-3 on clay this season.  Kovacevic is a 24-year-old American who has never been ranked inside the top 100.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Flavio Cobolli (Q) – Alcaraz is an excellent 30-3 this year, and won back-to-back titles on clay in his home country before suffering a shocking loss to qualifier Fabian Marozsan in Rome.  This will be Carlitos’ first match at a Major since winning last year’s US Open, as he missed the Australian due to injury.  Cobolli is a 21-year-old Italian qualifier making his main draw debut at a Slam.

Arthur Fils (WC) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (29) – Fils is an 18-year-old French standout who on Saturday won his first ATP title in his home country, defeating Francisco Cerundolo in the final of Lyon.  Davidovich Fokina is just 17-13 on the year, but was a quarterfinalist here two years ago. 


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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 Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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