Senthur Shanmugarasa reviews the action from this year’s French Open Championship at Roland Garros.
A semblance of tennis normality resumed in Paris last Sunday as Rafael Nadal cemented his position as the greatest clay court player in history, capturing his 13th French Open Title. The Spaniard beat Novak Djokovic over 3 sets, with victory putting him on par with Roger Federer with twenty Grand Slam titles. This caps a flawless fortnight for Nadal, who had reservations about how the changing conditions would impact his game, as he did not drop a set throughout the tournament.
Furthermore, this French Open, we saw the emergence of new talents who are tipped to have a big future in the game. 20 year-old Frenchman Hugh Gaston became the lowest ranked man to reach the 4th round since 2002 and took two time finalist Dominic Thiem to five sets. He looks set to excite the French crowds (when they return) for the next few years as they search for the first home winner since Yannick Noah in 1983. An even more brighter prospect is 18 year old Italian Jannik Sinner, who beat substantially more established names such as Alexander Zverev and David Goffin, before coming up short against the eventual champion. Only time will tell how big these names will become as the traditional tennis calendar (hopefully) resumes and the older stars find their footing
The unpredictable nature of the women’s game was further solidified as Iga Swiatek became the first Polish winner of a Grand Slam, winning the final in straight sets. The 19 year-old played like a seasoned professional (only dropping 28 games in the whole tournament,) as she brushed aside No.1 seed Simona Halep in the quarter finals and 2020 Australian Champion Sofia Kenin in the final, for a relatively comfortable victory. This victory seems no flash in the pan either. The power she produces from her forehand is at times, on par with those in the men’s game. This heavy topspin and power-based game makes her rather unique among those playing in the women’s game. On this evidence, she looks set to be a leading light on the women’s tour.
Despite British expectations being rather low heading into the tournament, there was still disappointment as no Brit made the second round of the singles for the first time since 2013. Although British pride was salvaged by Alfie Hewett, who won the wheelchair singles and doubles, alongside fellow Brit Gordon Reid.
Despite the tennis calendar being severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the level of tennis was excellent. The change in scenery (from the traditional spring to a colder autumn,) made for a more exciting brand of tennis. This combined with the rise of promising stars pushing the old guard deep into the tournament, means the game of tennis is in relatively safe hands as we head into a hopefully longer and more normal 2021 tennis season.