Top Seeds Tumble in First Week at French Open
The first week of this year’s French Open has thrown up some fantastic matches, some of which saw the best tennis of the year. Many players have had breakthrough weeks and will look to continue their success into week 2. However, the theme this week has been the number of surprise defeats, especially in the women’s draw, suffered by the top seeds.
Naomi Osaka, who had won her last 16 Grand Slam matches, crashed out in Round 3 to Katerina Siniakova in a lacklustre performance, which saw her lose 6-4 6-2. Osaka, as she has done in many defeats recently, blamed external factors for her loss, and seems to be putting her recent struggles down to ‘headaches’ or ‘stress’. Although tennis players do face more trials and tribulations than it is possible for those outside the game to imagine, someone of Osaka’s stature in the game would be expected to be able to put these things to one side and get the job done.
Serena Williams was also beaten 6-2 7-5 in Round 3 by her fellow countrywoman Sofia Kenin. Williams looked far from her best this week and is starting to look as though the lack of tennis over the course of the year is starting to affect her Grand Slam results. Williams was also involved in controversy after her match, where Dominic Thiem was reportedly kicked out of the room his press conference was being held in so that Williams could have her press conference in the bigger room. It is unknown if Williams knew of the situation, but one has to feel for Dominic Thiem, who called the situation ‘a joke’.
In better news, Johanna Konta is in red hot form, winning her first 4 matches ever at the French Open to reach the quarter-finals, where she will face 7th seed Sloane Stephens. Konta most recently beat Donna Vekic 6-4 6-2 in the 4th Round and is playing at a level of tennis that could certainly see her contending for the title. Sadly, there was little other success for British players, with the best performance from a Briton in the singles other than Konta coming from Kyle Edmund, who retired during his Round 2 match with Pablo Cuevas. Edmund cited a knee problem as the reason for his withdrawal and may need surgery.
On the men’s side, most of the top seeds have come through unscathed. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have cruised through their matches, while 4th and 5th seeds Thiem and Zverev are also still in contention, despite Zverev being taken to 5 sets in 2 of his 3 matches. Dominic Thiem, who reached the final last year at Roland Garros, beat Nadal en route to claiming the title in Barcelona this year and is a serious contender for the title and will face a tough test from an in-form Gael Monfils on Monday.
However, 6th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is out after falling in a marathon match to 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka. Both men played astonishing tennis, but Wawrinka pulled through with a score line of 7-6 5-7 6-4 3-6 8-6 in a match that lasted over 5 hours. Wawrinka saved numerous break points in the 5th set and looked to be lacking in energy but managed to find a break of serve at 7-6, sealing the win with an inch perfect backhand pass down the line. Tsitsipas cannot be faulted for his level of tennis, but certainly can be for his on-court demeanour. The 6th seed frequently circled incorrect ball marks, most notably on match point, to try and deceive the umpire into giving him the point and should have been given a second code violation (hence, a point penalty) for smashing a ball into the stands. Meanwhile, Wawrinka showed the tennis world that he is well and truly back after his two knee surgeries and will face Roger Federer for a spot in the semi-finals on Tuesday.