French Open Week One Recap
The 2022 French Open began on the 22nd of May, and there were eager eyes cast upon Roland Garros wondering who would impress in Week 1. How would rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz fare after an exciting beginning to the year? Would Rafael Nadal pick up his second Grand Slam of the year? How would Novak Djokovic bounce back after missing out on the Australian Open following the vaccine controversy back in January?
Many expected a quiet and relaxed Sunday start to Roland Garros, but it was the exact opposite as Ons Jabeur was shocked by Magda Linette on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Tunisian who had made history a few weeks ago as the first African to win a WTA Masters 1000 event was out before her tournament had barely even started, and many had tipped her to be in the mix right until the very end. The crowd seemed very shocked by the sixth’s seeds exit, and the fact that she didn’t go further in the French Open will have many fearing for her chances at Wimbledon due to a lack of playing time. There were a few more shocks around the courts as well on Sunday as tenth seed Garbine Muguruza lost to the Estonia Kaia Kanepi and former world number 3 Dominic Thiem lost in straight sets to the Bolivian Hugo Dellien. The Austrian’s defeat was particularly saddening as he just hasn’t looked himself since returning from injury, with his losing streak stretching to seven losses in a row. Elsewhere, Felix Auger-Aliassime had to fight back from two sets down to beat qualifier Juan Pablo Vargas, Carlos Alcaraz didn’t look his best but was fairly comfortable in dispatching Juan Ignacio Londero and Coco Gauff picked up an important victory with her side of the draw now wide open after the exit of Ons Jabeur. Finally, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina suffered a poor first-round exit to Tallon Griekspoor.
It was a wet and rainy Monday for Day 2, with players facing tough conditions as they looked to get their Roland Garros campaigns underway. It was comfortable performances for the big names as Iga Swiatek, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic got their tournaments off to a good start. The shock came courtesy of Naomi Osaka as for the second grand slam running she was defeated by the American Amanda Anisimova. You may remember she was frustrated by the American back in Australia as she knocked her out in the third round there as well. Following this loss, Osaka discussed with the press how she may not play at Wimbledon, with the lack of ATP ranking points and prize money making the prestigious event look almost like an exhibition for the big stars. Emma Raducanu had to fight back in an impressive comeback performance against Czech teenager Linda Noskova, whilst Bianca Andreescu also had to fight back to defeat Ysaline Bonaventure. There was more news on the women’s side of things as reigning champion Barbora Krecjikova was knocked out in her first match against Diane Parry. An early exit was expected for the Czech Champion as she hasn’t played since February, but no one expected it to be at the hands of Diane Parry. Finally, former world number one Angelique Kerber fought valiantly to come back to defeat Magdalena Frech.
Day Three was all about French Tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he played his final game of tennis in front of his home fans. He showed brief glimmers of his past self as the home crowd backed him until the end where it was a shoulder injury that nullified him and allowed Casper Ruud to take the win at 3 sets to 1. Tsonga will be remembered as one of France’s best of the 21st century, reaching semi-finals and a final at Grand Slams. His retirement ceremony followed the defeat where many of his toughest foes over his career such as Andy Murray shared their words and wished the Frenchman all the best in the future. Stefanos Tsitsipas was staring down the barrel of crashing out of the French Open in the first round as Lorenzo Musetti ran away with a two-set lead, but the fourth seed was able to fight back and see another day at Roland Garros. The most entertaining game of the day may have been the thriller between Hugo Gaston and Alex de Minaur at Lenglen. The crowd were behind Gaston, making it a bit of an intimidating atmosphere for the Aussie, as Gaston eventually won on the tiebreak at 10-4. De Minaur slammed the crowd following the defeat, claiming that they “crossed the line” with their support of the hometown hero Gaston.
Day 4 of Roland Garros was action-packed, with some of the big names just scraping by their opponents. Potential winner Carlos Alcaraz had to save a match point to claw his way back to defeat fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Alexander Zverev also struggled as he came from two sets down to defeat Sebastian Baez. The bottom half of the women’s draw lost more big names with Maria Sakkari and Emma Raducanu both dropping out in the second round against Karolina Muchova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich respectively, leaving the bottom half wide open for a new name to break onto the scene. That was the second time Raducanu has lost to Sasnovich since the US Open win last year. A lot of people have been writing off Raducanu since the US Open, as she hasn’t been at her best, but people need to remember that the Brit is still only 19 and has plenty of years ahead of her to win more trophies. Finally, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal continued their strong starts to Roland Garros, both not dropping a set in their first two matches.
Day 5 was perhaps one of the least memorable days of the first week at Roland Garros, but there was still a load to talk about. Leolia JeanJean burst onto the scene as the 26-year-old who had only won one match against an opponent in the WTA top 100 prior to this defeated world number 8 Karolina Pliskova in a massive upset. Iga Swiatek comfortably swept aside Alison Riske, Paula Badosa picked up an important 2-1 victory over Kaja Juvan and Alize Cornet stunned Jelena Ostapenko. The women’s bracket is shaping up very favourably for the number one seed, with the only 3 people to defeat Iga Swiatek this season not being left in the tournament, with Ash Barty retiring following the Australian Open, Danielle Collins losing in the second round to Shelby Rogers and Jelena Ostapenko losing to Alize Cornet as mentioned earlier. On the men’s side of things, Stefanos Tsitsipas made life difficult for himself again, with three tie-break sets against Zdenek Kolar taking a lot out of the Greek. The number four seed has played eight hours already up until this point, so it will remain to be seen if fatigue is a factor in Tsitsipas’ game as the tournament rolls on.
Carlos Alcaraz finally stamped his authority on Roland Garros with a dominant win in what should have been his toughest test yet against Sebastian Korda, where he really showcased his power behind the racket. Rafael Nadal steamrolled past Botic van De Zandschulp and Novak Djokovic did just the same to Aljaz Bedene, really leaning towards the imminent quarter-finals matchup between the two. That match isn’t inevitable, however, as Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has proved himself at recent slams, stands in the way of Nadal whilst Diego Schwartzmann is Novak’s next challenge. On the women’s side of things, Leylah Fernandez defeated Belinda Bencic 2-1 whilst Amanda Anisimova defeated Karolina Muchova in what was an entertaining match which ended unfortunately as Muchova had to retire due to injury. Fernandez and Anisimova will meet in the fourth round in what should be a highly entertaining game of tennis. Finally, Jil Teichmann saw her way past Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens continued a surprisingly impressive French Open run as she got the best of Diane Parry 2-0.
Phillipe-Chatrier was packed full of French players for Day 7, but unfortunately, they all lost as Alize Cornet lost to Qinwen Zheng, Giles Simon lost to Marin Cilic and Hugo Gaston lost to Holger Rune. Perhaps the main court is cursed for French players. Iga Swiatek finally looked like she faced some sort of trouble as she defeated Danka Kovinic on Phillipe-Chatrier. Despite still winning the game, the Montenegrin would’ve taken more games off of Swiatek than she would have liked, which raises many questions about what sorts of problem Qinwen Zheng could cause Swiatek in the fourth round in her toughest test so far. Daniil Medvedev was a name that flew under the radar for many when you looked at potential winners, with Alcaraz, Nadal and Djokovic being the names on the tips of everyone’s tongue, but the world number two has quietly been having a great start to his French Open campaign, rounding off the first week with a 3-0 win over Miomir Kecmanovic. Paula Badosa was incredibly unlucky as she suffered an injury which cost her her third-round match against Veronika Kudermetova and Stefanos Tsitsipas was delighted to have an easier match than his two previous as he comfortably defeated Mikael Ymer.