Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bowed out this Tuesday, May 24 at Roland-Garros. At 37, the former French number 1 bid a moving farewell to his professional tennis career by being eliminated in the first round of Roland-Garros by the Norwegian Casper Ruud (8th in the world) 6-7 (6/8) , 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0). Despite the unconditional support of the French public, the player injured in the right shoulder at the very end of the game ended his career with elimination after 17 and a half years on the circuit.
The player, ex-world number 5, delivered a very encouraging first set with a very successful tie-break and powerful tennis. It was in the fourth set that he totally broke down when he showed up injured on serve, unable to serve normally to the point of serving with a spoon. The Frenchman ended the meeting in tears on the match point. After 3h49 of battle against the Norwegian, the public paid him a moving tribute with a very long ovation and loud applause.
“I am now here in front of you without my racquet which will have been my best friend for thirty years. Becoming a dad has reshuffled the cards in my life. My family is once again my priority and I hope that the world will calm down as I am at peace. Thank you Roland, thank you Mr tennis, I love you”, he finished.
Djokovic is definitely a comeback professional. The world number one won in five sets (6-7 [6-8], 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4) against Stefanos Tsitsipas this Sunday, June 13 at the door of Auteuil. Two days after defeating Roland-Garros master Rafael Nadal in 4:11, it was exactly at the same time that he beat the Greek when he was down two sets to nothing. Crowned for the second time at Roland-Garros after 2016, the Serb thus won his 19th Grand Slam title. He also becomes the only player to have won twice in the four Grand Slam tournaments. “I am very happy and very proud to be here with the Coupe des Mousquetaires”, reacted the Serb in a press conference after his victory.
World number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas had yet shown impressive precision and aggressiveness for his young age, but the Serbian’s experience ended up winning. “What I learned today is that no matter what, for the match to be over, you have to win three sets, not two. Two sets doesn’t mean a lot, c It’s always one less than what it takes to win,” the Greek told the team’s journalists at a press conference after his match.
Despite this cruel disappointment, the player remains optimistic as he has just played his first Grand Slam final. Many observers see in him the future of tennis. “Despite my loss, I have faith in my game. I believe I can get there very soon. I was not far away today. There is a small difference between the player I faced today and those before. But I see no reason not to lift this trophy one day”, warns Stefanos Tsitsipas. If he has not yet won the Paris tournament, he has undoubtedly won the hearts of the French.
Djokovic came close to the correctional on the Philippe Chatrier court. After losing the first two sets against all odds against an exceptional Lorenzo Musetti, the Serb managed to turn the situation around by winning against his 19-year-old opponent 6-0, 6-1 in the third and fourth sets of these round of 16 at Roland-Garros. The Serb came back in the race by taking advantage of a physical flaw from the Italian and finally managed to win after his retirement two games from the end of the match due to back pain. Novak Djokovic therefore wins after 3h27 of unbalanced combat these round of 16 (6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 4-0, abandonment). He will thus play the quarter-finals of Roland Garros this Wednesday, June 9 against another Italian, Matteo Berrettini. The world number one will thus experience his 12th consecutive quarter-final at Roland-Garros.
For this last round of 16, Rafael Nadal is opposed to another Italian: Jannik Sinner, a rising figure of the new generation. The 35-year-old Spaniard, who had started well by breaking Sinner, also had a scare when he was caught and then passed in front of the score. The 13-time French Open winner finally managed to come back late in the set and win 7-5 in that first set.
There are no more French people at Roland-Garros. After the eliminations of Gaël Monfils and Enzo Couacoud, all French hopes rested on Richard Gasquet. The 34-year-old Biterrois lost in three sets this Thursday evening, June 3, in the second round of Roland-Garros against Rafael Nadal (6-0, 7-5, 6-2). Despite a disputed second set after a white first set, the mission was impossible for the Frenchman. The Spaniard, who has won the Roland-Garros tournament 13 times, was unable to thwart the odds against Rafa’s violent forehands. “It’s a brutal experience to play Nadal. There’s no one who plays like him. I’ve never seen such a thing in history, with such a powerful forehand. Every ball is played with such intensity. maximum, there is not a ball that you can play softly,” the player told the team.
Rafael Nadal won twelve of the game’s first fifteen points as well as the first seven games, before the Frenchman managed to save his face-off for the first time. The Spaniard started making more mistakes. The second set was therefore much more contested and the Frenchman was able to reveal his game. “There were sequences in the second set where I had fun and I started to believe in it, really, to win at least this round…”, assures Richard Gasquet. He gave in, however, losing 7-5 in the second set and lost the match losing the third set 6-2. This defeat also means that, for the first time in the history of the tournament, no French player will play in the third round. Nadal will face Briton Cameron Norrie this Saturday, June 5 to qualify for the round of 16.
Gaël Monfils, seeded n°14, lost this Thursday, June 3 in the second round of Roland-Garros against the Swede Mikael Ymer, 105th in the world. Seeming to be physically diminished in the first set, the Frenchman however did not seek an excuse for his defeat. “I don’t need to talk about it. I was on the pitch, I lost. I have to do better. Much better. Mikael played better than me,” he explained to West reporters. -France. “In the deal, I’m super frustrated, I can do better. I really apologize to all my fans and people who watched this because it’s still a game I have to win. I’m so disappointed of not being able to find the solution to play a little better”, regretted Gaël Monfils. After the defeat of Enzo Couacaud this Thursday, June 3, there is already only one Frenchman left in the tournament. Surprise of the first round, the 177th in the world still jostled Pablo Carreno-Busta, double quarter-finalist of the tournament, and therefore left through the front door. Richard Gasquet will face Rafael Nadal, who has won the tournament 13 times and against whom he has never won.
Only three French players have qualified for the men’s second round of Roland-Garros. This is the worst record since 1968 and the beginning of the open era. After tonight, if Richard Gasquet does not achieve a feat, there is a good chance that no French player will remain for the third round of the tournament.
Richard Gasquet did not drag. The 34-year-old Biterrois swept fellow Frenchman Hugo Gaston in three sets on Tuesday June 1 (6-1, 6-4, 6-2) at Roland-Garros. A Franco-French confrontation which lasted just over an hour and a half on the Suzanne-Lenglen court. Richard Gasquet will have a lot to do in the second round as he will play against Rafael Nadal, who has won the tournament 13 times. A mountain that the Frenchman fears to be able to climb. “Rafa is the only player I have never beaten. I have been playing him for seventeen years and I have never won. It is very unpleasant”, indeed confided the Frenchman after his match against Hugo Gaston. The latter was very disappointed not to be able to repeat the feat of last year, he who had beaten the former winner of the tournament Stan Wawrinka and had given a hard time to Dominic Thiem, two-time Grand Slam finalist.
The 20-year-old Toulousain admitted to having “a lot of frustration” after this game. After this defeat, the French player assured that he found it “heavy” that we talk to him “a lot” about his heroic journey last year. “I want to move on, and just focus on the future,” concluded the player.
After her boycott of press conferences, world number 2 Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from competition. “I think the best thing for the tournament, for the other players and for my well-being is to retire. This will allow everyone to focus on tennis in Paris. I never thought or wanted the situation comes to this”, wrote the player on Twitter this Monday, May 31 at the end of the evening. An unprecedented decision when the Japanese had nevertheless validated her qualification for the second round of the tournament thanks to a success against the Romanian Patricia Maria Tig (6-4, 7-6).
The player had explained on May 26, even before the start of Roland-Garros, that she would not respond to the press to protect her “mental health”. “I’ve seen so many videos of athletes breaking down in tears after a loss in the press room, and so have you. I think this is like hitting someone who’s already down,” she said. In a statement, the Grand Slam Tournament Directors announced that the player should pay a fine of $15,000 for refusing “to honor her contractual obligations to the media”. It was following this decision that the Japanese announced her withdrawal from the tournament. “I agree that the timing of my message was not ideal and that my message could have been clearer. I wrote directly to the organizers apologizing and explaining that I would be happy to speak with them once the tournament is over,” she explained.
On the sporting side, only two out of nine French people qualified this Monday, May 32 for the second round of the Parisian tournament. They are Caroline Garcia and Harmony Tan. Among the seven tricolor players eliminated, there is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost to the Japanese Nishioka in four sets. Roger Federer, soon to be 40, has qualified for the second round of Roland-Garros, a first victory two years after his last appearance. He will face Cilic in the next round. The Swiss is playing his 19th and likely last Roland-Garros this year.
The draw did not smile on the French. Three days before the start of the Roland-Garros tournament, the draw for the men’s draw took place this Thursday, May 27. A difficult draw for our French players since two of them, Hugo Gaston and Richard Gasquet, will have to face each other in the first round on Tuesday June 1st. A real clash of generations between the revelation of last year’s tournament, aged 20, and the 34-year-old Biterrois, 51st in the world at ATP. “I have enormous respect for him. He had an incredible career and he did a lot for French tennis, and even tennis in general. It’s a chance to play against him and I can’t wait. The clash generations (20 years against 34 years), I don’t think too much about it”, Hugo Gaston told L’Équipe.
If this Franco-French duel will already be the opportunity to lose a French player, the obstacles will not stop there for the winner who will have to face Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard who has won the title 13 times in the next round! Note that this year Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer find themselves in the same part of the table. Rafael Nadal could thus find the Serbian in the semi-finals. The Spaniard, 3rd player in the world, won against Djokovic last year by beating him in the final of the tournament.
Regarding the Swiss Roger Federer, his situation is much more complicated. Often injured, he could only play three games in almost a year and a half, and only one on clay. The seeded number 8 should still have a smooth entry into the tournament by facing a qualified player. It should get tougher in the second round against Marin Cilic. Finding the three tennis legends Nadal, Federer and Djokovic in the same part of the table is no less rare.
This Thursday, May 27 was also the occasion for Rafael Nadal to discover a statue made in his effigy. It was Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, in the presence of Guy Forget, tournament director, who unveiled it in the presence of the player. As L’Équipe points out, the statue was placed in the stadium on the Avenue side of the Porte d’Auteuil, near Gate 1, the new “General Public” entrance. The statue of the Spanish player who won the tournament 13 times, a historic first, was made by the Spanish sculptor Jordi Díez Fernandez. Made of stainless steel, it is three meters high, 4.89 meters wide and two meters deep. It features the player hitting a forehand.
This Sunday, May 30, the public was invited to leave the Roland-Garros stadium around 8:15 p.m. in order to respect the curfew introduced from 9 p.m. “The gates of the stadium will close at 8:45 p.m. Thank you for making your arrangements to leave the stands during a change of sides”, was announced on all the courts from 8:20 p.m. according to AFP, in particular relayed by Ouest -France. An announcement that became more direct and urgent at 8:45 p.m.: “Ladies and gentlemen, the stadium doors are closed to the public”. From this time, only accredited people were allowed to stay on site. A well-respected instruction, with the exception of the public at the Simonne-Mathieu court, where Corentin Moutet and Laslo Djere started in a tie-break. A lack of respect for the instructions which greatly annoyed. “I don’t play while they’re there, they don’t have accreditation,” the 22-year-old Frenchman complained to the referee. The recalcitrant spectators finally got out before the match resumed. He finally lost in four sets (6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5) and 4h26 of play against the Serb. This operation to “evacuate” spectators before the end of the matches is likely to be repeated every evening until June 8. It is on this date that the curfew will then change to 11 p.m.
Roland-Garros has been postponed again this year. After being postponed to October last year, the Parisian Grand Slam is this time postponed by a week. Initially scheduled for May 23, the tournament will be held from May 30 to June 13. Asked at a press conference about this, Daniil Medvedev did not mince words and called this decision “ridiculous”. “I was surprised by the decision to postpone the Roland-Garros tournament for a week. As if a week would change something… We’re talking about the Covid. It’s ridiculous, it has to be said” , he asserted.
“I’m not saying that in relation to the French Federation or the government, but in relation to the overall situation. As if we had the impression that the Covid was going to disappear in a week in Paris!”, Added the tennis player. Novak Djokovic also reacted to this postponement and struggled to indicate whether it was a good or bad thing for the players. “It’s hard to say. I’m neither in the French federation nor in the government to understand everything. We have to accept it. The tournament will be played, and that’s what we all want. And not in October like last year when it was cold … It’s hard to say if it’s a good or a bad decision because the calendar will suffer a little”, he explains.
Indeed the preparation of the players could be heavily impacted for certain tournaments on grass. “For Roland it’s good. For some grass tournaments, it’s less good… It’s a challenge for the ATP”, concluded the world number one. “For me, it will perhaps allow me to better prepare for Roland-Garros (where he was eliminated four out of four times in the 1st round), making the best use of the two weeks after Rome to try to have a good trip. Roland’s postponement may also have effects for the grass season. Because for those who are going to make the quarter-finals in Paris, and I’m not necessarily talking about myself, they will surely only be able to play Wimbledon and that’s not It’s never easy…”, explained Daniil Medvedev.
Roland-Garros will finally be able to accommodate 5,000 spectators per day. According to the Team, the gauge finally established will make it possible to accommodate 5,388 spectators per day until June 8, a less restrictive arrangement than the rules imposed by the government (1000 people maximum until June 9). The evolution of the lifting of health restrictions will then make it possible to increase to 13,146 daily spectators from June 9.