The French Open has drawn to a thrilling close this weekend. Even though, one draw went to plan near enough, the other saw all sort of surprises but some stars have been born in the past fortnight as we saw several rise and falls.
As we now enter the grass court season, let take a moment to reflect on the events at Roland Garros which saw a shock female champion and the re-emergence of a ex male winner.
*( ) – seeding number
Early rounds saw things pretty much go to plan for the top seeds except for two surprise early exits
Alexander Zverev (9) and Jo Wilfried-Tsonga (12) were surprisingly dumped out by Fernando Verdasco and Renzo Olivo respectively.
Zverev had won the Rome Masters just a week beforehand so he would of been expected to go far in this grand slam. That doesn’t take away the quality of Verdasco, who is a clay specialist.
As for Tsonga, he surely should of done better despite the intimidating crowds. It however opened the way for Britain’s Kyle Edmund to go deeper than expected, climaxing in a fourth round exit at Kevin Anderson’s hands.
Other than that, things went as expected till the business end when the defending champion, Novak Djokovic (2) lost his crown.
Emerging talent, Dominic Thiem (6) was the man to end that reign with an inspired performance. After a topsy turvy opening set, the young Austrian was just magnificent to watch as he despatched the Serbian with a third set bagel.
If he continues to grow at this rate, he will be knocking on the doors of grand slam finals soon with such a ferocious backhand weapon.
As for Djokovic, he needs to sort himself out before he tumbles down the rankings. He was lucky to even make it to the quarter finals, after an embarrassing performance in the third round against Diego Schwartzman.
Without doubt, the biggest male rise was the re-emergence of Rafael Nadal, who strolled to his tenth French Open title without dropping any sets.
His notable standout performance came in the third round, when he breezed Nikoloz Basilashvii aside in just 90 minutes. If there is any proof that Nadal is back to his best then this match is enough to prove why the big four domination isn’t over yet.
Well well well!! What an eventful Roland Garros it turned out to be for the ladies draw.
For starters, the top seed, Angelique Kerber suffered a hammering first round exit. It was the first time that the no.1 player had lost in the opening round of Roland Garros.
13 other seeds joined her in crashing out in either first or second rounds, which has to surely be one of the most appalling records for the women’s game in years.
It certainly paved the way for a chaotic fortnight though, with only three of the top ten seeds managing to reach the last eight.
Reigning champion, Garbine Muguruza was hardly inspiring as she played herself into the tournament. In my opinion, she seemed a bit uncertain in terms of how to assert herself on the opposition and dominate play.
That was shown up in her fourth round departure against France’s Kristina Mladenovic, when she was torn apart in the opening set before falling in three.
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova might be the most happiest with their French Open exploits but there have been some real stars emerging in the women’s game with no former grand slam champion in the quarter finals and beyond.
Elina Svitolina is one of those young stars because she managed to negotiate what was quite a slippery draw. One notable highlight for her has to be knocking out one of last year’s quarter finalists in Tsvetana Pironkova en route to a thrilling quarter final exit herself.
18 year old unseeded American, CiCi Bellis deserves a honourable mention for beating Kiki Bertens and pushing Caroline Wozniacki all the way in a third round defeat. If she can take confidence from those matches, expect to see her name mentioned more in the next few years.
Ultimately, the real star of not just the women’s singles but of the whole 2017 French Open has to be Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.
Ostapenko initially took advantage of a section one that had opened up for her. In the latter stages, she managed to impress me with how she handled the pressure against bigger players before lifting the trophy.
From the fourth round onwards, all of her matches went to three sets making her achievement all the more remarkable given that she had spent more time on court than Halep.
If someone other than Serena Williams can go the distance in four consecutive matches and still win the championship in future, you will have to look no further than Jelena Ostapenko.
In the end, Roland Garros saw the rise of some future and resurgent players whilst others fell short of expectations.