10 June 2024

Drench Open, late nights and Swiatek’s way ahead – Roland Garros talking points

10 June 2024

Carlos Alcaraz won a first French Open title after a five-set thriller against Alexander Zverev.

A day earlier Iga Swiatek was peerless as she romped to a fourth Roland Garros crown.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what we learned from a fortnight in Paris.

Not so bleak for Brits?

The British singles contingent did not exactly travel to France with high expectations, and they lived down to them. Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Jack Draper, Harriet Dart and Katie Boulter all exited in the first round. In fact it was only because of the incessant rain in Paris that Boulter lasted as long as she did, losing to Paula Badosa at 11.30pm on the first Tuesday. But it should be remembered that the last time Britain had more players in the singles draw at Roland Garros by ranking – there were seven but Jodie Burrage pulled out injured – was in 1985. “It’s just been a bit of a tough tournament. I think we’re actually in the best spot we’ve been in on clay for a long time,” said Evans.

Time violation

The incessant rain in Paris over the first week saw this tournament dubbed the ‘Drench Open’. It also led to some ludicrous late finishes. Novak Djokovic endured the latest in Roland Garros history against Lorenzo Musetti, with the last ball struck at 3.08am local time. Djokovic was diplomatic about it despite later withdrawing with a knee injury, but other players hit out at the scheduling. Coco Gauff called it “not healthy” and Jamie Murray added: “We shouldn’t be in a situation where guys are finishing at 3am as by the time he goes to bed it’s probably like six and then you’re totally goosed the next day, and then the next day is a battle as well.”

Bring back the booze

With rowdy fan behaviour in the spotlight, chiefly after Belgian veteran David Goffin claimed a spectator spat chewing gum at him, Roland Garros bosses banned punters from drinking alcohol in the stands. Maybe banning chewing gum would have been the more sensible option. Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo later admitted: “Honestly, I don’t think in the end of the day it was necessary.” Get the Moet & Chandon back on ice for next year.

Swiatek streets ahead

Gauff is now the world number two. The American’s run to the semi-finals earned her 350 points. Numbers two to 10 are separated by around 4,000 points in the WTA rankings list. Yet Swiatek is nearly 4,000 points ahead of Gauff, a gulf starkly illustrated by the Pole’s 6-2 6-4 dismantling of her nearest rival in the semi-final. The chasing pack have a lot of catching up to do. Yet Swiatek, now a four-time French Open champion, could probably walk down Wimbledon High Street unnoticed, having not progressed past the last eight at SW19. The world’s best female tennis player by a distance has yet to reach the public consciousness in the UK.

Murray the last of the old guard

Talking of Wimbledon, who would have thought a few years ago that, out of the men’s ‘big four’, only Murray would be playing in 2024? Novak Djokovic’s knee surgery has all but ruled him out, and Rafael Nadal does not want to compromise his participation at the Olympics. With Roger Federer long since retired, the changing of the guard first trumpeted in about 2014 is finally upon us. Alcaraz will be back to defend his title on the back of his Roland Garros success.

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