Medvedev cruises as Paris struggles to escape Wimbledon shadow

Published May 25, 2022
FRANCE’S Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hits a return to Casper Ruud of Norway during their French Open match at the Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.—Reuters
FRANCE’S Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hits a return to Casper Ruud of Norway during their French Open match at the Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.—Reuters

PARIS: World number two Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round on Tuesday but could not escape the shadow of Wimbledon, the Grand Slam tournament where he has been declared persona non grata.

Medvedev, who came into Paris with just one match on clay this year following hernia surgery, routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve.

“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021.

“I hope this year I can go further.”

One place he will not be going, however, is the All England Club next month after Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The ATP and WTA responded by stripping the sport’s most prestigious tournament of ranking points.

One day after former world number one Naomi Osaka said she was “leaning towards not playing” Wimbledon while defending champion Novak Djokovic said he will play — despite losing 2,000 points — in what he described as a “lose-lose situation”, the controversy showed no signs of abating.

“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” said Frenchman Benoit Paire after a 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 loss to Ilya Ivashka in which he hit 24 double faults.

Denis Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2021, said he objected both to the ban and the decision to strip the points.

Jelena Ostapenko admitted she was also in two minds over Wimbledon.

“If there are no points, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do,” the Latvian 13th seed said after beating Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti.

The biggest loser on the women’s side will be the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova who will drop the 1,000 points she gathered by finishing runner-up to the now retired Ashleigh Barty in 2021.

She too wants at least 50% of the points to be retained. She still intends to return to the All England Club.

She made the second round by beating Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Spanish third seed Paula Badosa swept into the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over French wildcard Fiona Ferro.

Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bid an emotional goodbye to tennis after losing in the first round to Casper Ruud.

Tsonga was beaten 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 7-6 (7-0) by the Norwegian eighth seed.

Tsonga delighted the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier by taking the opening set, but Ruud hit back to claim the next two sets.

Elsewhere, 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Shapovalov.

Slovakia’s Alex Molcan defeated Federico Coria of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second-round clash against defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to love, has a dangerous assignment against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who is working with Serena Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou, faces Germany’s Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying.

Spanish third seed Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, takes on France’s Fiona Ferro.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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