Sunday, June 5, 2022

My French Open top 10

Here are my top 10 French Open happenings, in ascending order:

10. This is the best they could do?: As someone who lives in the U.S. (and who cannot rise at the crack of dawn or before), I missed so many matches that I really wanted to see. And while I caught some of them on demand, it just isn't the same. The organization issue behind my problem was that almost all of the night matches were ATP matches. Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo got some pushback when she said that there was more appeal for men's matches. She later said that her words were taken out of context, and she apologized to WTA players. 

Mauresmo said that the length of matches was an important factor in making the night match decision, and men's matches at majors follow the best of five format. She also acknowledged that there were other ways that the schedule could have been organized, and that she will do better next year.

9. One of these things is not like the other: World number 1 Iga Swiatek posed for many photos with Original 9 member Billie Jean King, who was honored by the French Open because the 50th anniversary of her only French Open singles title win occurred during the tournament. Swiatek obviously looks up to King and has said so many times. Her idol, however, is a man who is opposed to the concept of equal prize money (he was also part of the Spanish Davis Cup team that, several years ago, lost its mind over the concept of having a female coach).Swiatek's cognitive dissonance is significant, in part, because it's a microcosm of tennis fandom (and--most important--female tennis fandom) in general.

8. There must be a factory in Prague: 17-year-old Lucie Havlickova, who trained with none other than Petra Kvitova, is the new French Open junior girls champion. The world number 9, seeded 9th at the tournament, defeated Argentina's Solana Sierra 6-3, 6-3 in the final. But that wasn't all. Havlickova and her Czech partner, Sara Bejlek, the top seeds in doubles, won the doubles title when they defeated 2nd seeds Nikola Bartunkova (also Czech!) and Celine Naef 6-3, 6-3 in the final. 

7. If there were a trophy for rudeness...: The French crowd would win it. Every year. All of the crowds at the majors behave badly, but the French crowds have turned it into an art form. If a player--who is, by the way, performing her job--questions a line call, she's booed and jeered. If a French player flubs a ball toss, there's silence, but the moment her opponent does it--boos and jeers. But that doesn't mean that the French won't turn on their own--just ask Alize Cornet.

When Cornet played 2017 champion Alona Ostapenko in the second round, the crowd was simply horrible to Ostapenko--one of their own champions. Ostapenko, at the end of the match, covered her ears so that she couldn't hear the boos and whistles. To her credit, Cornet made a point of applauding her opponent as she left the court. In the next round, the French star showed up heavily strapped, and--before long--she could hardly move. She was unable to win a game, but--warrior that she is--she just kept limping around the court. Until she couldn't. Down 0-6, 0-3 against Zheng Qinwen, Cornet was forced to retire, and she shook hands, packed her gear, and left the court--all to thunderous boos and jeers.

6. When you just can't catch a break: Karolina Muchova (who came out of that factory) is an extremely talented tennis player, and an extremely unlucky one. The Czech player has had her share of injuries, and she recently came back from a long layoff because of an elbow injury. She looked really good at Roland Garros, too, upsetting 4th Maria Sakkari in the second round, in two tiebreak sets. But in the third round, she rolled her ankle and had to retire against Amanda Anisimova. Everyone knows that sports like life) isn't fair, but this was just brutal.

5.  Wheels on fire: Defending champion and top seed Diede De Groot, aka Diede De Great, defended her title at the 2022 French Open when she defeated 2nd seed Yui Kamiji 6-4, 6-1 in the women's wheelchair singles final. There was a bigger draw this year, which made the event more competitive, but no worries for De Groot, who also defended--with partner Aniek Van Koot--her doubles title. De Groot and Van Koot defeated Kamigi and Kgothatso Montjane 7-6, 1-6, 1-0 (10-8).

4. The big ones aren't always the best ones: It's easy to look forward to the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final of a major tournament. But often, the most thrilling matches take place earlier in the tournament. There were two matches that really stood out for me, One was contested in the opening round, when Angie Kerber had to fight like mad to overcome Magdalena Frech in a match that lasted two and half hours, and which featured every amazing Kerberism known to the tennis world. Sadly, the German star would go out in the third round, but that match against Frech was outstanding.

The other real thriller was played in the third round between Vika Azarenka and Jil Teichmann. The match lasted three hours and 18 minutes, and Teichmann kept raising her level and raising her level until she defeated Azarenka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6.

3. Hot Coco in Paris: She didn't win the tournament, but Coco Gauff announced herself in a big way. not dropping a set until she reached the final. Not that it was a surprise--Gauff is talented, hard-working, and possessed of a rare on- and off-court poise for someone who is just 18 years old. Gauff, with partner Jessie Pegula, was also the runner-up in the doubles championship--quite a tournament for her.

2. Allez!....again: Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic won the French Open in 2016, and now they're the 2022 champions, too. The French pair, playing with a wild card, defeated 8th seeds Coco Gauff and Jessie Pegula 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Mladenovic has two other French Open titles, which she won with Timea Babos, who has been her most consistent partner during her career.

1. Iga the Dominator: Someone please make an action figure of Iga Swiatek. She won the French Open (for the second time), won her sixth title of the season (including the Sunshine Double), and today, she won her 35th straight match. Her dominance is awe-inspiring, and Swiatek herself is a breath of fresh air. Tuning in to Led Zeppelin before a match, reading Wuthering Heights during a changeover, and swatting away gifted opponents with ease--that's Iga. 

The new champion did have some tough times in the course of the French Open, but she did what champions do--she found a way to win. Finding a way to win becomes the Polish star; the season isn't half over, and she's clearly the one to beat, everywhere she goes.


Todd.Spiker said...

And though it was a mere footnote, how great was it seeing Francesca Schiavone (w/ Flavia!) back in Paris with a racket in her hands, winning the Legends competition with her fellow Italian great? :)

Diane said...

It was wonderful!--and it was probably my no. 11, tied with Jabeur's upset--but I chose to go political and big picture instead ;)

colt13 said...

Iga having an action figure makes too much sense.

Sabalenka/Paquet was a good early round match because of the drama.

Plus the Fernandez trio, playing Bencic, Anisimova, Trevisan in consecutive matches.

Diane said...

Didn't see Sabalenka/Paquet. What was the drama?

Yes, Fernandez had quite a load to carry in that draw.