The French Open once again proved itself as somehow the most unpredictable and predictable Grand Slam in tennis, but who were the winners and losers at Roland Garros?
Roland Garros Winners
Let’s start with the only person you can ever start with when discussing Roland Garros – Rafael Nadal.
This year was, by his own admission, his biggest ever challenge in the tournament he loves the most. The weather was colder, the courts slower, the balls heavier.
He also arrived in Paris with precious little tennis in his legs after skipping the US Open.
It was enough to have analysts and former players queueing up to tip him to struggle, yet he sailed through without losing a set.
The cap it all off, the tennis Nadal produced in the final against Novak Djokovic was arguably the best we have ever seen from the Spaniard, and that is really saying something given his career.
While we are on the subject of Djokovic, it is important to resist the temptation to declare an entire tournament a failure due to one match, and that is exponentially truer when that match is a defeat to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
The world number one has had a huge amount of criticism – often unfairly – thrown at him this year, particularly after his US Open defaulting, yet he continues to display the mental strength to put it all one side and churn out consistently brilliant tennis.
He himself will likely not see anything less than another Grand Slam title as a success, but for simply continuing to prove the detractors wrong, that makes him a winner for us.
The clay of Roland Garros has a history of throwing up surprise winners and Cinderella stories, but Swiatek’s run to the final didn’t end up feeling like that.
She went into the competition ranked outside the world’s top 50, and yet by the time she met Sofia Kenin for the title she somehow felt like the obvious and overwhelming favourite.
That wasn’t a fluke either. She earned it through her brilliant tennis and it seems inconceivable that she is not going to win many more Grand Slams before she is done.
Quite simply, there is not a more charismatic player in the world than Stefanos Tsitsipas. You can’t help but feel like tennis is going to need him once the big three eventually hang up their rackets.
In fact, he is so charismatic than you sometimes forget just how good his tennis is too, and this was a tournament in which he really caught the eye.
His semi-final performance against Djokovic felt like a coming of age, and it is hopefully just the start.
Schwartzman has always been a good player, but he has never been a top ten player before – until now.
There isn’t a single player on the ATP Tour who wants to see their name drawn against the Argentine, and clay has always been his surface of choice.
He reached the semi-finals before running into Rafael Nadal, but he arguably gave the Spanish star his biggest test of the competition. All in all, a fine two weeks’ work by Schwartzman.
You know who he is now. You didn’t before. Sometimes, that is enough!
Great things have been expected of Sinner for a couple of years now, although he is still young enough to get a free pass in the same way that Felix Auger-Aliassime often does.
Roland Garros was the tournament when his talent truly shone on the big stage for the first time, though, and boy was it exciting.
The Canadian youngster was one of the stand-out performers at the US Open and it was enough to see him break into the top ten for the first time.
Roland Garros was a chance for him to show that he was there to stay for a while and had moved up a level, but he wasn’t able to impress at all before going out blaming a line call.
He remains one of the most exciting players in the world to watch, and we still believe great things lay ahead of him, but this felt like a missed opportunity for Shapovalov.
We know that clay probably isn’t the Italian’s favoured surface, but the manner of his third-round exit was extremely poor.
Daniel Altmaier, who sits well outside the top 100 players in the world, was able to completely break down Berrettini’s backhand and that has to be setting alarm bells ringing in his camp.
Let’s be honest, Daniil Medvedev is in a strange place right now. The incredible run in the summer of 2019 that propelled him into the top five suddenly feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it.
Medvedev is in a position where he needs to start proving that he is a top player, not that he simply had one brilliant summer.
You look at him and he seems to have all the tools, and a recent US Open semi-final helps. That said, another failure at the French Open, where he is still yet to win a match in his entire career, is not a good look for someone with his current standing in the men’s game.
We are, of course, aware of Kvitova’s history, and in a way the fact she is playing tennis to this level at all is something of a miracle after what she has had to go through.
However, there is also a part of you that thinks two Grand Slam titles just isn’t enough for a player of her talent.
With Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, and Bianca Andreescu absent and Serena Williams withdrawing after the first round, this was a great chance for her and once again she couldn’t get the job done.
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