Talking Points: Late-day drama in women’s draw, Roger Federer closing in on ‘Alphabet Grand Slam’
We look back on day four at Roland Garros as the women’s draw gets a bit of a shake-up, Grigor Dimitrov shows some fight and Roger Federer moves within one letter of completing the “Alphabet Grand Slam”.
A lack of early carnage and then some late-day drama
The seeded players stood firm on the first couple of days at Roland Garros. Sure Angelique Kerber (5) and Caroline Wozniacki (13) were first-round casaulties, but if we are totally honest, both came into the tournament under a cloud so their exits were not that big a surprise.
But then came the two big stories late on Wednesday.
First one of the pre-tournament favourites Kiki Bertens pulled out due to illness. It was a tearful end for the Dutchwoman and you can understand as she had looked a real contender.
Oh no 😰
Kiki Bertens, a favorite to win the title, forced to retire due to illness.
“I don’t have any power and I don’t feel well.”
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 29, 2019
That news had barely settled and then Bianca Andreescu withdrew due to a shoulder injury.
Again, understandable as she struggled with the same injury since March.
‘Younger’ contenders spending too much time on the court
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer once again made light of their opponents in the second round as they won in straight sets. Stan Wawrinka likewise.
But Stefanos Tsitsipas needed nearly three hours to see off Hugo Dellien while Kei Nishikori did go over three hours to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who we have to acknowledge is not an easy opponent. Alexander Zverev, meanwhile, went the distance in the opening clash.
However, if you reach the final and face a Nadal or a Novak Djokovic, you will need to have plenty left in the tank. You can’t afford to waste energy in the early rounds.
Grigor Dimitrov showing some fight
The Bulgarian has had a nightmare year as he has suffered a string of early exits in the build-up to Roland Garros. He opted to play in the qualifiers in Geneva, but then lost in the first round.
Yet he finds himself in the third round of the French Open after coming through two five setters.
After beating Janko Tipsarevic in three hours in the first round, he required four hours and 23 minutes to see off 11th seed Marin Cilic 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2-7), 6-3.
His reward? A third-round clash against a fresh Wawrinka who dropped only five games in his second-round match.
Roger Federer one win away from ‘Alphabet Grand Slam’
Roger Federer just needs to beat someone with the surname starting with the letter X to complete the “Alphabet Grand Slam”.
By beating Oscar Otte, the 20-time Grand Slam winner took his alphabet tally to 25.
X is understandable, but it’s actually quite surprising that there have not been too many players with a surname starting with O on the ATP Tour… off to Google you go.
With his win over Oscar Otte, @rogerfederer has now beaten the tennis alphabet in a tour-level event with the exception of the letter ‘X’. #Federer‘s 1,204 wins have come over opponents with surnames starting with 25 of the alphabet’s 26 letters (also played Xavier Malisse).
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) May 29, 2019
Bonus points to anyone who would like to have a go at naming the 24 players on the alphabet.
Rafael Nadal is just fine on Leglen
Before the day’s play even got underway there was a controversy brewing, as fans flocked to social media to complain about Rafael Nadal being ‘shunted’ to Suzanne Langlen court while Roger Federer enjoyed the surroundings of Court Philippe Chatrier.
The argument is, of course, that Nadal has such a sparkling record at Roland Garros that he should always be scheduled to play on its main showcourt. It’s a compelling argument.
Many have described it as ‘an insult’ to Nadal to be moved to Langlen for his match against Yannick Maden, though, and that surely goes a little too far.
It is, after all, not like Nadal has been bumped to the outside courts.
Furthermore, it’s unlikely that the man himself could actually care less about it. Nadal is generally all about business and will just have been interested in getting the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
As some of the crowds on Chatrier have shown too, the time to be there is week two, and that is something that Nadal knows better than anyone.
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