Final thoughts on the 2017 French Open
Originally published on 12/06/17 00:00
1. The women’s event didn’t disappoint
With Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova not making the jaunt to Paris, anarchy was predicted in the women’s draw.
Shocks and surprises has been the theme of the WTA season but there was a nice blend between youth and experience in the French capital. Sam Stosur and Venus Williams flew the flag for the veterans, while Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic showed the locals that French tennis has a bright future.
The women’s game may be going through a transitional phase, but there is a talented crop of youngsters beginning to emerge.
2) Jelena Ostapenko
Jelena Ostapenko is not a new name on the tennis scene, but few would have predicted her astonishing run to the French Open title. The youngster is a fiery character with ferocious groundstrokes, and she wowed the Parisians with her shotmaking capabilities.
At just 20-years-old, the Latvian is a major champion however she is far from the finished article. Her tentative second serve is in sharp contrast to her aggressive gamestyle and she lacks a little subtlety. If she can add pace to her second delivery and encompass more variety in her game, she will become a prominent figure at the forefront of the sport for the next decade.
It’s also worth noting that Ostapenko, who won the Wimbledon girls' title in 2014, has a gamestyle tailor-made for the lush lawns at the All England Club.
3) Novak Djokovic looks lost
Djokovic’s title defence came to an abrupt at the quarter-final stage. He was soundly beaten by Dominic Thiem and he looked disinterested in the latter stages of the contest. With a skeleton support staff and uncertainty surrounding the long-term commitment of Andre Agassi, the former world No.1 has some important decisions to make.
It will be interesting to see if Djokovic, who tends to avoid playing between the French Open and Wimbledon, will look to make an appearence at a grass-court event in the build up to the penultimate major of the year.
4) The young guns disappoint
Nadal and Wawrinka contested the first over 30s final at Roland Garros in 48 years. It may appear like an anomaly however the Australian Open championship match this year was a battle between 35-year-old Roger Federer and his great Spanish rival.
While the top players seem capable of performing at a high level well into their 30s, there is a lack of young talent making an impact at Grand Slams.
The likes of Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic, who should be in their peak years, never impressed in Paris and the much fabled ‘Next Gen’ group were quickly dismissed.
Alexander Zverev – who won in Rome just prior to the French Open – was beaten by Fernando Verdasco in the first round, Nick Kyrgios struggled with injury and Borna Coric was dumped out early by Steve Johnson.
The hardworking Thiem has shown what can be achieved, but at the moment he is the only young player in a sea of veterans.
5) Nadal could still equal Federer’s Grand Slam haul
When Federer, at his swashbuckling best, stunned the tennis world and bagged his 18th major title in Australia at the start of the year, it looked certain that his record total would remain unsurpassed for the foreseeable future.
Nadal’s form in recent months has thrown doubt on this assumption. With a 15th major title banked without even conceding a set at Roland Garros, the Spaniard is flourishing again under the guidance of his Uncle Toni and Carlos Moya.
Fitness permitting, the 31 year-old will remain a factor at his beloved French Open for at least the next few years – and his insatiable appetite for success remains as stong as ever.