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ROLAND GARROS - THE STORY SO FAR



I thought a Roland Garros without Rafael Nadal is like going to a pub with no beer... what's the point?


Once the action got underway though, I was quickly awoken out of my sad Rafael Nadal-less slumber. Action, drama and heartwarming storylines were plentiful in the French capital.


Round 1


Frenchman Lucas Poullie a former world number 10 and AO semi-finalist who had been lost in the tennis wilderness for years was the story of round 1. He fought his way through qualifying to reach the main draw and then went on to win his round 1 match in front of the most partisan French crowd.


The singing of " La Marseillaise" the French national anthem from the crowd and Poullie was spine-tingling.


Emotions running high for Poullie who appreciated this moment in time after revealing he had suffered from depression and Alcoholism. It's very easy to lose sight of the human element that goes on behind the winning and losing of tennis matches.


Elsewhere in round 1 was the first big shock of the tournament when Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in 5 sets to in-form clay specialist Thiago Seyboth Wild, who had come through qualifying. Medvedev who won the title in Rome the week before Roland Garros was thought to have been in the mix here even though he has a love/hate relationship with the clay.


By the time the final match of a 3-day Round 1 took place under the lights on Court Philippe-Chatrier, I had already forgotten the king of clay was absent.


This match was the best so far and possibly the best match of the tournament as Gael Monfils the much-loved French veteran took on Argentine Sebastion Beaz who is more than comfortable with the red dirt under his feet.


Emotions running high, Monflis looked all but gone after losing the 4th set 6-1 and being down 0-4 in the 5th.


Gael seemed to tap into the amazing support from the crowd to fight back into the match with wonderous shot-making whilst battling a fatiguing and cramping body. Still, a break down in the final set the full house got on their feet to sing 'La Marseilles" to Monflis who was visibly moved by their support.


He put his heart into the final stretch of the match and somehow found a way to get over the line as the victor. Monfils himself told the crowd that they got him the win and he was thinking of his daughter being there and getting his first win as a dad. Unfortunately, Gael succumbed to a wrist injury and was unable to continue in the tournament.

Round 2


More crowd drama was the talking point of round 2 with Taylor Fritz playing the last Frenchman standing in the event so as expected there was a partisan and vocal French crowd in the house. Fritz came from a set down to win in 4 sets and after the match point, all the pent-up emotion spilled out as he shushed the crowd vigorously with a finger to the lips.


Of course, it's fair to say the crowd did not appreciate this as the booing came hounding down from the stands. When trying to conduct the on-court interview the crowd were rabid in booing him as he was only able to get one sentence in, "I love you guys " is what Taylor said.


It was clear then that Taylor would not have it easy for the rest of the tournament, he may have taken out the last Frenchman standing but perhaps the crowd got their win too as he was booed onto the court for his next match where he was defeated by argentine Francisco Cerundolo.


Jannik Sinner would have had high hopes coming into this event like all top players as no Nadal means an opportunity.

Unforantly for Jannik, it wasn't meant to be as he lost a gruelling 5 and half hour 5 set match to clay specialist Daniel Altmaier. Sinner had two match points along the way but for the fourth straight major he was unable to get across the line in a close 5 set match, it is now becoming a bit of an issue for Jannik. Credit must be paid to Altmaier who fought so hard throughout and played some unbelievable shots with the most beautiful one-hand backhand, his tears after the match signalled what it meant to him.


On the Aussie side of things, there wasn't too much to get excited about. Thanasi Kokkinakis did deliver as he took out 20th seed Dan Evans and former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka in 5 sets and 4 hours. A great effort by Kokki but unfortunately Alex De Minaur wasn't able to progress further than round 2, stopped in his tracks by another clay specialist in Thomas-Martin Etcheverry.


Round 3


On the WTA side of things, some are terming Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina the new big 3 as they seem to be dominating the field and between them winning the last 4 majors.


All three were breezing through the draw without dropping a set but unfortunately, Rybakina had to withdraw from the event with illness, robbing us of a potential semi-final showdown with Swiatek.


Swiatek is doing her thing though dishing out bagel sets as we are on track for a Swiatek Sabalenka final which will be a fascinating showdown.

Elsewhere 16-year-old hype train Mirra Andreeva who came through qualifying to reach her first major main draw lost out in the 3rd round battle of the teens vs Coco Guaff.


Andreeva did take a set of Coco, last year's finalist and showed in the first two rounds that she has a beautiful all-court game. Definitely one to watch as her future in the sport looks extremely bright.


So far through the first week, the big guns are delivering, Djokovic, Swiatek, Alcaraz, Sabalenka and the French crowd are all in top form.


Second week and beyond...


Looking ahead there are some mouthwatering quarter-finals.


Alcaraz vs Tsitsipas and Rune v Rudd in a spiteful Roland Garros rematch from last year. The young Dane came through in 5 sets last night vs Francisco Cerundolo.


Of Course, the match-up everyone in the tennis world has wanted to see for a long time now and definitely once the draw was made is a semifinal between Djokovic and Alcaraz in what would be there first meeting in a major, with history on the line for Djokovic. Only Tsitspas and Khachanov stand in the way of this becoming reality.


A huge opportunity awaits in the bottom part of the draw for Alexander Zverev to at least match his semi-final run of last year where he was cruelly struck down midmatch with injury vs Nadal.


He blasted Grigor Dimitrov off the court last night and looks to have re-established himself as a top player again.


On the WTA side, Swiatek and Guaff's quarter-final is now locked in a rematch of last year's final.


Sabalenka is looking on track to reach the final and Jabeur and Muchova are still floating around as the dangerous disrupters to the number 1 and 2 seeds with their all-court well-suited clay court games.

The stakes get raised in the second week of a slam so strap yourself in for some late nights and see how it plays out!

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