French Open Update: Big Names Out, American Shelby Rogers Heats Up
With the French Open rained out for the first time in 16 years, now is a great time to reflect on the first week of clay’s most important tournament.
The most shocking news to come out this week is when nine-time French Open champion withdrew from the tournament due to an injury. It’s no secret that Rafa struggled last season and earlier this year. However, with wins at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and a tough two set battle with Novak Djokovic it was clear that Rafa was turning it around. Unfortunately, Rafa’s left wrist, which he said flared up a couple weeks ago in Madrid, was too bothersome for him to proceed in the tournament. With Nadal and Federer, who pulled out before the French started, out, this is the first time in more than a decade that a semi will not be filled in with their names.
This wasn’t as devastating as the aforementioned Nadal pulling it but still a grave shock to the tennis world, particularly French fans at Roland Garros. Tsonga, a French native and crowd favorite, has made it to the semis twice at the French. With the absence of Nadal many tennis experts believed Tsonga had a good shot at repeating his semifinal appearance last year. But while leading 5-2 against Latvian player, Ernest Gulbis, Tsonga injured his leg causing his immediate retirement.
Shelby Rogers Emerges
Unfamiliar with the name Shelby Rogers? Well that will soon change. The 23 year-old, 108 ranked American stunned two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Proving it wasn’t a fluke Shelby continued her great play in the fourth round beating Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu to advance to her first grand slam quarterfinal. Win or lose, nothing can take away from Roger’s incredible run on the red dirt.
Business as usual
American men struggle/ American women flourish/ Serena’s on track
What isn’t a surprise and hasn’t been for a while is the lack of representation of American men in the later stages of the tournament. Five American men entered the draw and only one made it to the fourth round; top American John Isner. Many thought Jack Sock had the best chances of going deep in the tournament but he lost a tough five set match to Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas.
In the women’s field American women are preforming well. Serena faced a stern challenge from French player Mladenovic but was able to survive and appears on pace to tying Steffi. Serena’s big sister Venus has seen a resurgence in her game and by reaching the fourth round she has equaled her best results since 2010. Madison Keys is keeping up the momentum she gained by making in the final in Rome by making the fourth round. Shelby Rogers, already in the quarterfinals, is making a name for herself
Djokovic and Murray on path to meet
Djokovic has been in dominant form, making it to the fourth round without dropping a set and that much games as well. Murray had to play two five set matches to get through the first two rounds but now seems to have righted the ship and is looking good to face Novak in the finals.
Everything else in between
Unpredictability continues in the WTA
Yet again it’s anything goes on the women’s side of the draw. Serena is still the player to beat but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will emerge to face her. With top players such as Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova losing early and Victoria Azarenka having to retire due to injury, there is a chance for numerous players to make the finals. World number two player in the world Agnieszka Radwanska is in good form but considering she has only made the quarterfinals once in nine tries, it’s hard to envision her as a serious threat. World number three Garbine Muguruza is looking strong as well and given the fact that she has already beat Serena at the French, she appears to be the greatest obstacle between Serena and the trophy. There are other potential challengers such as a Simona Halep and even Venus who can derail Serena’s chances of tying Steffi but given their inconsistency it is hard to bet money on them.
Dominic Thiem, the contender
With both Rafa and Tsonga out, a golden path has been laid out for rising young star, Dominic Thiem. Thiem has been on a tear this year winning three titles and with wins over Nadal and Federer, it is clear that he is the real deal. Clay seems to be Thiem’s best surface and with a wide open draw Thiem has a spot in the semis calling his name.
This year’s French is proving to be as wild as ever and although the favorites are still on path to take home the trophies there are no guarantees. Stay tuned to see how the rest of tournament unfolds.