Roland Garros, Paris May 25 – June 8, 2014; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Clay
* Compilation of various ATP articles (except the final which is mine) with my blue notes.
Final: (1)Rafael Nadal d. (2)Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 [3:31 h]
Picking a clear favorite of this final wasn’t the easiest task. Of course, Nadal had a mental advantage over his opponent on this particular Court Philippe Chartier, as an 8-time champion & winner of their all five previous Parisian encounters, yet Djokovic won their last four meetings (8-1 in sets, having easily won all those eight sets). The initial stage confirmed that the Serbian player rediscovered his 2011 pattern of beating Rafa as he took the 1st set in 44 minutes thanks to one break of serve in the 8th game – in the following game Nadal had a double break point but missed two relatively easy shots. Of the last 10 sets they’d played against each other, it was seventh won by D’Joke ‘6-3’! The Serb had never before won an opening set against Rafa in Paris, so it should have made a positive impact on his mood – that wasn’t the case though. Admittedly, he was maintaining his high standard of play, but Nadal increased his own & broke for the first time to 4:2 after two ‘deuces’ with the help of his trademark shot – inside-out forehand. Djokovic broke back immediately benefiting from Nadal’s double fault. The challenger saved a break point in the following game, leveled at 4 games apiece, then 5-all. At *5:6 (15-all) his forehand hit the tape which helped Nadal to obtain a comfortable position to finish the point with a forehand winner. Next point – and Djokovic makes an uncharacteristic forehand error striking inside-out – the first sign of tension – double set point. Nadal converts already the first one with a forehand winner and pumps his fist sensing the good things to come… Before the final I thought that Djokovic would win in straight sets (with two tight sets). I assumed that his only chance to win this final was grabbing the two opening sets, pushing Nadal under extreme pressure. He couldn’t do that & the momentum shifted onto Nadal’s side. Since the beginning of the 3rd set his movement was much more better as opposed to Djokovic’s, who looked tired & very upset. First three games of the 3rd set, Nadal actually won in no time. Djokovic regrouped a bit, had break point chances in games 5 & 7 (in the 7th game Djokovic threw his racquet in disgust after a cross-court backhand – this shot let him down the most on Sunday), but Nadal survived tough moments, and concluded the set on his first opportunity. There was a 5-minute break before the 4th set because Nadal left the court for a toilet break. Djokovic had a reason to believe that a scenario of their last year’s semifinal (Djokovic after losing the 3rd set quickly then, got a second wind in the set No. 4) would have been repeated when Nadal bent down with grimace on his face after missing forehand for 2-all in the 4th set. Despite the potential back-pain, the Spaniard proved once again – he’s an extraordinary specimen of physical endurance – won another two games. At *4:2 (15/30) for Nadal, Djokovic delivered a moon-lob & Nadal made a poor error trying to play a quite safe overhead behind the baseline. The back issue was evident… It was the first moment since the conclusion of the 2nd set, when I thought that Djokovic would turn the things around. He partially did it: there was 4-all (deuce), but Nadal somehow escaped to put himself in a good standing: one game away from the championships. In the 10th game, Djokovic led 30/0 on serve, but lost three straight points. Championship point: sometimes history repeats itself – Djokovic experienced it… just like two years ago in the Parisian final trying to stay in the match on serve, he committed a double fault, even though he didn’t risk anything! Nerves got to him… Nadal fell to his knees and covered the face in hands, in the meantime Djokovic was sarcastically showing his thumb towards the stands. Nadal, now the 9-time champion, received the trophy from the 6-time champion Bjorn Borg. The 28-year-old Nadal ties the Swede with 64 titles (the same number of titles collected Pete Sampras); he draws level with Sampras at No. 2 in the Grand Slam title-leaders list on 14 major crowns. He is now three Grand Slam trophies behind Roger Federer, who has 17. “Federer has 17 and I have [won] 14 Grand Slams,” said Nadal. “[Breaking the record], it’s not a source of motivation for me. I’ll follow my own path. Then when my career is over, we’ll count. I don’t really care that much about the records. I’ll still play with a lot of intensity. I’ll still be motivated. To me, winning is the result, the equivalent of lots of effort. Therefore, I feel more serene and personally I’m very satisfied.” The defeated runner-up stated: “Obviously his records speak for themselves. He has won this tournament now nine times. It’s very impressive… He has lost only once in his career on centre court. It’s definitely not easy ‘best of five’ to play against him in these conditions.” Stats of the final
2nd semifinal: (1)Rafael Nadal d. (7)Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 [1:40 h]
The Spaniard improved to a 65-1 record at Roland Garros with a sensational win over Murray. Nadal came out all-guns blazing. He was impressive in his tactical execution early on, mainly firing serves to Murray’s backhand before moving up the court to strike a powerful winner. Only Djokovic, in recent times, has appeared to have been able to counter the ploy with well-placed crosscourt returns. Nadal, who has lost just once at Roland Garros in the past 10 years, looked in ominous form and took advantage of Murray’s slow start to take a 3:0* lead. Having started to strike good forehand length against his compatriot Ferrer in a quarter-final win, Nadal used his killer shot with conviction and wrapped up the 1st set with a forehand volley winner. His rich vein of form continued throughout the 2nd set, when Murray adjusted his position on the return of serve in a bid to make an impact on Nadal’s serve. It did not work. The Spaniard put his foot on the accelerator by breaking to 15 in the 3rd and 7th games. The atmosphere fell flat on Court Philippe Chatrier as Nadal set about his business of further dissecting Murray’s game. Nadal did not lose a point on his first serve, while Murray won 12 points in total. The set lasted 31 minutes. Pressed deeper behind the baseline, Murray was almost powerless in Nadal’s relentless pursuit of a ninth final. Nadal struck a powerful smash to break for a 2:1 lead and by the time Murray miscued a forehand at 15/40 in the 5th game, the Scot’s time on-court was almost up. The fact that Nadal produced such a masterclass was an indication of the respect he has for Murray, who now switches his focus to retaining his Aegon Championships and Wimbledon titles. “I never want to say forget about matches like this, but obviously the grass-court season starts in a couple of days and I need to switch my mind to that,” said Murray. “It’s definitely the most time I have spent on court in a two-week span in the last six months since I came back. So in some ways that’s obviously a good thing; that I managed to get through some long matches.” Murray despite reaching the French Open semifinals twice (and twice quarterfinals), still hasn’t won a title on clay. Stats of the match
Djokovic is one match win away from reclaiming No. 1. Should he triumph at Roland Garros in Sunday’s final, he would also become the eighth man in tennis history to complete a career Grand Slam. Second seed and 2012 runner-up Djokovic advanced to his 13th Grand Slam championship final on a sun-kissed Friday in Paris. Gulbis, who will break into the Top 10 for the first time on Monday, was in a confident mood at the start of his first major semi-final. The Latvian started with a love service hold and clever interplay near the net in the 4th game, resulted in Gulbis slicing a backhand winner down the line for 15/40 on Djokovic’s serve. Gulbis could not convert either opportunity, but minutes later he would rue missing the first point – a routine backhand off a second serve. Though he was able to get good kick on his serve in the hot conditions, poorly executed volleys and backhand errors cost Gulbis. He got out of jail on two occasions, but Djokovic showed great mental resilience to clinch the first break for a 3:2 lead. Djokovic remained workmanlike as two set point opportunities came and went at 5:3. However, his third opportunity was executed to perfection from the return to the final backhand. Gulbis’ forehand potency went off the boil and Djokovic won the 41-minute opener. Though chances to break were non-existent through the first six games of the 2nd set, Djokovic was not being pushed by Gulbis. When Gulbis hit a backhand long at *3:4, 30/40, he was left searching for answers. Djokovic ran through the set, losing 12 of his service points, and took control on his third set point to close the 33-minute passage of play. Gulbis left Court Philippe Chatrier at the end of the set. His fortunes changed with a return to his aggressive self and at 3:2, he pushed Djokovic out of his comfort zone. Though Djokovic saved two break points, Gulbis proved that he was up for the fight. Finally, at the fifth time of asking, Gulbis clinched the break for a 5:3 lead with a sizzling backhand winner. His celebration was muted. A few minutes later, he struck an ace down the T, in a hold to 30, to wrap up the 46-minute set. Djokovic’s appetite returned at the start of the 4th set, when two forehand errors by Gulbis gave the second seed a 2:0 lead. However, with the sun in his eyes and perhaps the weight of his own expectations, Djokovic was left frustrated when he lost his serve to 15 – broke his racquet after that. Since the beginning of the set, Gulbis was indicating some problems around his hip and at 3:4, he missed three first serves and paid the price. At 30/40, Gulbis struck a backhand long. He bowed his head, his hands on his knees. Djokovic went on to record his 30th match win of the year converting first match point after attacking Gulbis’ backhand. “I’m not going to celebrate,” said Gulbis, “It’s not enough. I need to reach more now. Now I’m addicted to success, really. I need to make this extra step now. I’m extra motivated.” Gulbis’ longest winning streak – 9 (previously notched 8 wins in a row twice)…Stats of the match
Murray silenced French supporters by beating Monfils in a bizarre five-setter on Court Philippe Charier in their first meeting since November ’10, finished at 9:40 p.m. Murray has advanced to a British-record 14th Grand Slam championship semi-final. The 27-year-old Scot is also the 10th man to reach multiple semi-finals at all four majors. Should he reach the milestone in the French capital, he would become the first British man to capture a clay-court singles title since Buster Mottram at 1975 Palma. Fred Perry was the last British man to lift the Roland Garros trophy in 1935. In their sixth H2H clash, contested in windy conditions, Murray broke first in the 2nd game. Happy to rally with Monfils, he waited patiently before making a move to the net that left Monfils hitting a backhand wide. Murray went on to take a 3:0 lead as Monfils appeared to be weighed down by the occasion. However, in the 5th game, Monfils was awakened by what he considered to be a poor line call. Monfils broke Murray to 30 with a powerful crosscourt forehand winner, before levelling the scoreline at 3-all. Monfils gifted Murray a set point opportunity at 4:5, 30/30, when he hit a low backhand volley into the net. But a big first serve down the middle, allayed concerns momentarily. Murray clinched the set, which lasted 46 minutes, with a forehand winner to end a 32-stroke rally. When Monfils hit a forehand wide at 15/40 in the 2nd game of the 2nd set, the Court Philippe Chatrier fell silent. Murray took a 5:0* lead, and clinched the set after converting his eight set point. The crowd revived Monfils at the start of the 3rd set, but Murray was still able to recover from 0/40 in the 2nd game. Monfils had comeback from 0-2 sets down on one occasion, against Thiemo de Bakker in the 2011 Australian Open first round. Could he do so again? “I could see that the wind was not blowing as hard as it used to in the two first sets,” Monfils said of his turnaround. “In the second set I was thinking, ‘Well, I hope the wind is gonna calm down.’ This is what happened.” Inspired by two successive forehand winners for a 5:4 lead, Monfils grew in confidence. But he could not control himself on two set point opportunities when Murray served at 15/40. However, Murray slapped a backhand into the net to give Monfils the 55-minute set and a major confidence boost. An aggressive Monfils ran away with the 4th set, attacking at every opportunity as Murray hit his hamstrings with his fist to summon up extra energy. Monfils won 93 % of his first service points and hit 13 winners to take the match into a deciding set. Lapses in concentration by Monfils gifted Murray the decider. In fading light, Murray looked set to contest his second match of the championships over two days. His dramatic victory over Kohlschreiber in 3R had also been carried over to a second day. But Monfils won just six points in the 24-minute 5th set. “I didn’t win the first game when I was in a position to win it, and then I rushed it,” admitted the Frenchman. “I tried my forehand and my shots were out, and then it went very fast.” The idea of playing the decisive set seemed suspicious with max. 30 minutes ahead, given they could play just three games within 20 minutes. But they played six games in 24, and it was enough to conclude the match that everyone expected to witness on Thursday as well…
3rd quarterfinal: (1)Rafael Nadal d. (5)David Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 [2:34 h]
After rolling past four unseeded players, Nadal faced his first big test of the 2014 Roland Garros championships on Wednesday when he came up against Ferrer in a rematch of last year’s final. The eight-time Roland Garros champion lost the opening set, but roared back to beat his fellow Spaniard and the darkness in the rain-delayed quarter-final match on Court Suzanne Lenglen. “I am rather happy to have been able to turn the situation around,” said Nadal. “I managed to pull through. Even though it was complicated, I managed to find solutions during the second set.” Since his straight-sets win over Ferrer last year at the clay-court major, Nadal had dropped two of their three matches – including their most recent meeting in April (Monte Carlo). The pair traded hard-earned breaks in the 4th and 5th games of the quarter-final match, before Ferrer drew ahead with another break to clinch his third straight set against Nadal. The top seed countered early in the 2nd set as he built up a 3:1 lead, and coolly faced down Ferrer’s three break point chances in the 6th game. Nadal benefited from an improved second serve, winning 83 % as compared to 46 in the first, and drew level at one set all with a love service game. “The first set was mentally tough,” said Nadal. “I decided to go more inside to return in the second set, and I decided to play many more times with my forehand. When I did, I think the dynamic of the match changed.” Ferrer, who had entered the match with a six-match winning streak against fellow Spaniards, committed four unforced errors to gift Nadal the 1st game of the 3rd set. He continued to struggle with errors as Nadal went on a 10-game run to go two-sets-to-one and a double break up. Ferrer held triple break point chance in the 2nd game of the 4th set, but was unable to capitalize. He finally got back on the scoreboard with a break in the 4th game, but it proved to be too little too late as he lost to Nadal for a third straight year at Roland Garros. “Today I was not good enough for this match,” said Ferrer, “I lost my focus. I was too slow, and I think I didn’t play the game of a Top 10 [player]. This is why I’m sad. It’s my attitude, my behavior on the court.” When Nadal leveled at 1-set apiece, they potentially had only ~80 minutes of play ahead before the darkness – Nadal managed to win the last two set in 60 minutes...
Djokovic is two match wins away from reclaiming No. 1 and becoming the eighth man in tennis history to complete the career Grand Slam. By reaching the semi-finals, Djokovic will return to No. 1 unless Nadal wins his ninth Roland Garros title. Second seed and 2012 runner-up Djokovic defeated eighth seed Raonic on Courthilippe Chartier for a place in the semi-finals against No. 18 seed Gulbis. Djokovic has a 4-1 Head-2-Head record against the Latvian. “He’s been playing really well,” Djokovic said of Gulbis. “He’s confident. But again, I like my chances because I have had now couple of great weeks on the clay courts from Rome to now last ten days here in Roland Garros.” Djokovic, 27, has lost one set – versus Cilic in the third round – en route to his 22nd Grand Slam championship semi-final (and his sixth on Parisian clay). He is on a 10-match winning streak. Against Raonic, Djokovic struck first at 6:5* in the 1st set, hitting a backhand winner down the line for a set point opportunity – which represented his third break point chance. Raonic was drawn to the net, but Djokovic hit a perfectly weighted backhand return to Raonic’s feet, resulting in a volley into the net. It handed Djokovic the 50-minute opener. Neither player had any opportunity to break in the 48-minute 2nd set, which was decided on a tie-break. From 4-all, Djokovic won two straight points and took a two sets to love lead with a very slow (130 kph), but well-placed kick-serve that Raonic sent into the tramlines. In the 3rd set, Raonic cut Djokovic’s lead from *1:5 (30-all) to 4:5* (15/0) – the Serbian player increased his focus then with extensive ball-bouncing before the serve, and after Raonic’s return, he gained the point with backhand down the line, forcing an error.“Even though it was a straight set win, few points here and there kind of decided the winner,” said Djokovic. “That’s what I was expecting. I knew that he’s going to serve and I’m not going to have many opportunities, but when I do have them, I should use them. I have done well.” Three weeks ago, Djokovic beat Raonic 6-7 7-6 6-3 in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals, manufacturing 29 winners. This time, Djokovic hit 39 winners and committed 19 unforced errors for victory while Raonic fired down 21 aces, but won just 29 % of his second serves.
The last eight players to defeat Federer at a Grand Slam tournament lost in their next match. Gulbis broke the spell on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Two days after knocking out the World No. 4, the Latvian raced past World No. 6 Berdych to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final in second Parisian quarterfinal (2008). He extended his winning streak to nine matches and his season mark on French soil to 13-0. “It’s very special,” Gulbis said in an on-court interview. “Today was the best match of the tournament. I did everything well. I felt physically so good, felt that I can run forever, that he cannot make winners. That’s how I felt on court. I felt that I covered it really well. If I feel so confident from the baseline, then everything just comes together.” The No. 18 seed broke Berdych’s first service game in all three sets of the two-hour match. He capitalized on five of his eight break point chances (six games), hit 31 winners and won 81 % of his first serve points to 69 % for Berdych. “It was not my best day,” said the Czech, who was looking to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals for a second time. “It was not the day that I would stay with him and push him into the tough situations. He handled it quite well.” The 25-year-old trails Djokovic 1-4 in their H2H. “I think just for me it’s 0-0 with him in matches,” said Gulbis. “The way I’m playing now, I never played like this. I never felt like this. What was in the past I don’t even consider. I beat him once, also in a bad match. He was changing racquet, and he was playing really bad.” He added: “It’s really important for my happiness just to be successful on the tennis court. Forget about the money. Forget about fame. It’s just about my inner comfort. That’s it. For me, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.” Gulbis has won 17 matches this year on clay, it’s one more victory than in his three previous seasons on this surface (main-level tournaments). The surprisingly easy win over Berdych, guarantees him entering the Top 10 for the first time, unless Monfils gains the title, which is unlikely.
Fourth round: ATP
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will face David Ferrer in a re-match of the 2013 Roland Garros final in Wednesday’s quarter-finals after dismissing Dusan Lajovic 6-1 6-2 6-1 on Monday in Paris. “I think that I am playing a little bit better than when I was playing against him in Monte-Carlo, but I think he’s playing great, too,” said Nadal. “He played three weeks in a row at a very high level. In Madrid he played great, in Rome he played great, and he’s playing great here.” Ferrer advanced to his 10th successive Grand Slam quarter-final on Monday at Roland Garros as he held off a late fightback from Kevin Anderson to prevail 6-3 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1 (they met at the same stage in Paris also a year before and Ferrer won much more convincingly 6-3 6-1 6-1). The 32-year-old Spaniard withstood 9 aces and 42 winners from Anderson to break the South African on seven occasions. Ferrer limited his unforced errors to just 24 and made 72 per cent of his first serves, claiming victory in 2 hours and 51 minutes. “It was tough,” said Ferrer. “I think in the first and second sets I played very good. I think I did not make too many mistakes. In the third, he played better. He improved his level. I played consistent. When I lost the third set, I tried to play more with my forehand, and he was more tired than me at the end of the fourth set.”Gael Monfils kept French title hopes alive as he reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals for a fourth time by defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0 6-2 7-5. Monfils made an impressive start against Garcia-Lopez. He raced through the first two sets in just 54 minutes as he capitalized on five break point chances. The Frenchman came back from 2:4* in the 3rd, and took the decisive break in the 64-minute set to go up 6:5 and punctuated the victory with an ace on his second match point. The victory snapped his six-match losing streak against Spanish opponents. The seventh-seeded Andy Murray also advanced with a straight-sets victory over a Spaniard, defeating No. 24 seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-5 7-6(3) just under 3 hours. He extended his streak of quarter-final appearances to 13 straight Grand Slam appearances. In the most dramatic 3rd set, Verdasco saved many break points at 1:3 & 2:4 & leveled at 3-all in the tie-break after losing the first three points. Nevertheless, Murray quickly gained the last four points of the match improving his H2H record to 10-1 over the left-handed Spaniard. Novak Djokovic reached his 20th Grand Slam quarter-final in a row on Sunday at Roland Garros with a resounding 6-1 6-4 6-1 victory over French hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. “I didn’t go through happy moments today,” said Tsonga. “It was not fun for me. It was tough. I didn’t have time to go for my shots. I didn’t get off to a good start. Then against this type of player, things started to deteriorate. He played better and better.”Tsonga, the last year semifinalist in Paris, drops around No. 20 in the newest ranking (at the same time last year was No. 7). He has lost the last six meetings against Djokovic not having even won a set.Milos Raonic advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final as he dismissed Marcel Granollers 6-3 6-3 6-3. He is the first Canadian in the Open Era to reach the last eight at a major. “It’s a good thing,” said Raonic. “If you asked me would I have ever thought that the first one would come at the French Open, I probably would not have answered that way, but I’m happy about it. I’m very happy with the level I’m playing, and I think it’s just showing in the results. I think that’s just a consequence of all the work I have been putting in.” The 23-year-old Raonic hit 54 winners, restricting Granollers to just 14, and broke his Spanish opponent four times from five opportunities to cruise to victory in 1 hour and 54 minutes. Sixth seed Tomas Berdych was the first man through to the Roland Garros quarter-finals as he dismissed John Isner 6-4 6-4 6-4 on Sunday in Paris. The Czech served 11 aces, limiting Isner to just 7, and hit 36 winners to only 13 unforced errors, claiming victory in 1 hour and 51 minutes. It was his fifth win in seven meetings with Isner. “There were quick breaks in each of the sets,” said Berdych. “That’s something that really helped through all the match, especially against a guy like John. He likes to stay as close as possible, serving well. I think it’s a good thing to avoid playing tie-breaks with him. So that was one of my plans in the beginning, and I’m really glad that it was working pretty good.”Ernests Gulbis claimed the biggest win of his career on Sunday as he stunned Roger Federer 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-2 4-6 6-3 to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals. “It’s the biggest win of my career,” Gulbis told Cedric Pioline in an on-court interview. “Sorry I had to win. I know how everyone likes Roger. It was a tough match but this is sport. I’ve been playing very well in France. I won tournaments in Marseille and Nice, hopefully Paris is the next one. For my confidence and just for me as a tennis player, a five-set win over Federer, it’s really big. Hopefully it’s going to change me that I become more confident about myself, you know, on a tennis court.”Federer claimed the 1st set despite a 3:5 deficit in the tie-break, and had the chance to take a commanding two-set lead over Gulbis, but squandered a 40/15 advantage when serving at 5:3 as Gulbis responded with a backhand winner on Federer’s overhead on the first set point! The 18th-seeded Latvian broke Federer twice to take the 3rd set but, after leaving the court before the start of the 4th set, Federer came back re-focused and took the match to a decider. Gulbis went up an early break in the 5th set and afforded Federer no opportunity to get back level. Gulbis held his nerve in the 9th game and served out the match to 15, claiming victory in 3 hours and 42 minutes. “Mentally I have already switched to the grass, to be quite honest,” said Federer. “For me, it’s like, ‘the clay-court season was fun, but we are moving on’. Clay doesn’t need me anymore, I got flushed out here.”The Swiss didn’t lose as early as this time at Roland Garros, in his nine previous appearances.
Third round: ATP
Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round of the French Open without dropping a set after defeating Leonardo Mayer on Court Philippe Chatrier. After the match Nadal hugged Jerome Golmard, who was watching the King court-side in a wheelchair (the Frenchman is diagnosed with ALS)… The eight-time champion overcame a few sticky moments in the 2nd set (he was two points away from losing it at *4:5) to see off the Argentinian 6-2 7-5 6-2 in 2 hours and 17 minutes to equal his record of 31 consecutive wins in Paris. Nadal had been hugely impressive in defeating rising star Thiem in round two and he started in the same vein against Mayer. It was the first warm and sunny day of the tournament, which helped Nadal’s extreme spin fizz off the clay. He has dropped only 19 games this year, heading into a match against 83rd-ranked Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, who is in only the second Grand Slam tournament of his career and beat Jack Sock 6-4 7-5 6-3. The Serb managed to save two set points in the vital 2nd set. Before this French Open, the 23-year-old Lajovic had a 10-21 career record in tour-level matches, never winning two in a row. World No. 8 Andy Murray held his nerve to close out a 3-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 12-10 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to secure his place in the Roland Garros fourth round. The match had been suspended due to bad light at 7-all in the fifth set on Saturday evening. On the resumption, Murray was denied a match point leading 9:8 on Kohlschreiber’s serve. On second match point, Murray rifled a backhand return winner to clinch victory in 4 hours and 7 minutes. “Physically in the fifth set I was struggling. I was cramping,” admitted Murray. “So I was disappointed obviously that I wasn’t able to finish in four sets. But at the same time, stopping the match probably helped me a little bit, because if I had played seven or eight more games, probably wouldn’t have been great. Today was a pretty high standard, I thought. Probably the best standard of the match I think from both of us. He came up with some great shots when he was behind in games today. I thought both of us served a little bit better. It was a good finish to the match.” Murray blew a 3:1* lead in the 1st set & 3:0* in the 4th, yet in the 5th he came from a break down (2:3) and saved two mini-match points (6-all on Saturday & 9-all on Sunday). He goes on to face Fernando Verdasco, who returned to Court Philippe Chatrier to defeat French hope Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-2 6-3. The match had been suspended due to bad light with the score balanced at 2:2 in the 3rd set. “It’s never easy when they stop a match when you are two sets to love up and you are starting the third,” said Verdasco. “Because you know that you need to be 100 per cent from the first point or everything can change very quickly. Even more so when you are playing against a player like Richard here in France.”Gael Monfils had the Suzanne Lenglen Court crowd on the edge of their seats Saturday as he edged Fabio Fognini 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2 avenging a five-set defeat to the Italian on Philippe Chartier Court in 2010. The Frenchman looked spent as he won just six points in the 4th set, but found a second wind for the deciding set as he opened up a 3:0 lead. Buoyed by the vociferous home support, Monfils held on to seal the dramatic victory in 3 hours and 24 minutes. “When I arrived in the fourth, he broke me straight away,” said Monfils. “I was starting to struggle a little bit, not cramping, but I felt really tired. I think all the fatigue coming up.” For a place in the quarter-finals, Monfils will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who also needed five sets to battle past Donald Young 6-2 6-4 2-6 6-7(4), 6-4 in 3 hours and 47 minutes. The 30-year-old Garcia-Lopez is through to the fourth round of a major for the first time in his 39th Grand Slam appearance! In the 4th set GGL failed serving for the match, in the decider he saved break points in 3rd & 9th game, and notched the only break of the set breaking Young to 30 in the final game. Fifth-seeded David Ferrer, who lost to Nadal in last year’s final, got to the fourth round by defeating No. 32 Andreas Seppi 6-2 7-6(2) 6-3. Ferrer improved to 7-0 against Seppi, winning all 15 sets they’ve played. Ferrer, who has lost a total of 26 games through three matches this year in Paris, will face No. 19 Kevin Anderson for a place in the quarterfinals. Anderson advanced when Ivo Karlovic retired after one set Saturday because of a bad back (Karlovic’s second retirement of the year facing Anderson).Roger Federer completed a record-breaking win at Roland Garros on Friday, reaching the fourth round for the 12th time. It bettered the record set by Guillermo Vilas, the 1977 champion, who reached ‘the last 16’ on 11 occasions. “At the start of my career, clay was not my favourite surface,” said Federer. “I got my best results in indoor courts or hard courts, so people thought at that time that I was only a fast-court player. But that’s not the case, so I’m very happy with this record, and I’m enjoying it.” Fourth seed and 2009 champion Federer extended his record to 5-0 against No. 31 seed Dmitry Tursunov with a 7-5 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4 victory in 3 hours and 7 minutes. He is now three match wins shy of 200 clay-court victories (197-60 overall). Tursunov saved three set points from 0/40 at *5:6 in the 2nd set with risky shots on Federer’s backhand, before going on to seal the tie-break. The Swiss led 4:1 in the tie-break and did not convert fourth set point opportunity at 7:6, before Tursunov levelled at one-set all with a forehand winner. Sixth seed Tomas Berdych, recorded his 30th match win of the year with a 6-1 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4 victory over No. 27 seed Roberto Bautista-Agut. Berdych entered the match having a 1-2 H2H record vs RBA. Tenth seed John Isner fired into the fourth round for the first time, when he became the first American man to reach the last 16 in Paris since Robby Ginepri in 2010. Isner overcame No. 17 seed Tommy Robredo 7-6(13) 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 7-5. It broke his five-match losing streak against seeded players at the Grand Slam championships. He saved all 13 break points he faced (in six different games) and five set points in the opening tie-break, which was the third longest in the French Open history, in terms of number of points. “That guy is really good, very good, especially on clay, so for me it’s a very good win,” said Isner. “Happy with how the match ended and very happy with how I served, obviously.”Novak Djokovic recorded his ninth straight victory against Marin Cilic on Friday with a battling 6-3 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 win for a place in the Roland Garros fourth round. The Serbian now has a perfect 9-0 record or better against four players – Seppi (10-0), Jeremy Chardy (9-0), Monfils (9-0) and Cilic (9-0). “Physically I had to work very hard, because he was very aggressive,” said Djokovic. “It wasn’t easy, because once you start being passive, you lose kind of the confidence to step in. That’s what happened maybe in the end of the third and little bit of the fourth. In important moments I held my nerves and I’m very happy that I went through.” Second seed Djokovic recovered from a *1:3 deficit in the 1st set and from 2:4* in the 3rd set. The Serb opened up a 4:1* (40/0) lead in the 4th set, but Cilic ensured a tense finale with a mini-resurgence. “I think overall I played really good tennis today, and I am happy with that,” said Cilic. “I think the serve wasn’t the best today, but when you’re playing against somebody like Novak he’s gonna return some balls that you’re not used to against some other players, and then you feel you’re gonna go for a little bit more.” Djokovic will next play No. 13 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman delighted supporters on Court Suzanne Lenglen with a 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory over Jerzy Janowicz in just over 2 hours, breaking opponent’s serve five times (in all games he had his chances). It was his 20th match win of the season. Eighth seed Milos Raonic prevailed in a five-set battle with No. 29 seed Gilles Simon in the final match on Court Philippe Chatrier, clinching a 4-6 6-3 2-6 6-2 7-5 victory after 3 hours and 16 minutes, concluded at 9:30 pm. The Canadian was broken to love as he served for the match at 5:4, but came back strong to win the final two games. If he had been broken again, the match would have been suspended due to darkness like a meeting between Marcel Granollers & Martin Klizan (they left court No. 7 at 9:35 after 3 hours 22 minutes with Granollers leading 2-1 in sets, having saved a set point on serve in the 3rd set). Ultimately the Spaniard prevailed 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(4) 7-5 capturing the 4th set in 53 minuteson Saturday. “This is a bitter loss, a tough loss, a five-set defeat,” said Simon. “The level is so close. I think he just played better at the right moment at the end.” Raonic became the first Canadian man to reach the round of 16 in Paris, and also equalled his best Grand Slam result. He also reached this stage at the Australian Open (2011, ’13) and the US Open (2012-13). “It’s a new territory I’m putting myself in in this tournament, because I was able to fight and get through in important moments and give myself an opportunity to win,” said Raonic.
Second round: ATP
World No. 1 and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal swept past the youngest player in the Top 100 for a place in the Roland Garros third round. Nadal defeated 20-year-old Dominic Thiem 6-2 6-2 6-3 on Thursday afternoon to improve to 61-1 lifetime at the clay-court Grand Slam championship, which he first won in 2005. “I played well,” said Nadal. “I played the way that I would like to play… and I’m happy the way I returned today… He will have his chances to become a top star and fight for these tournaments… .” “It was a great feeling to play on this court [Philippe Chatrier],” said Thiem. “He has lost one match here in 10 years, so I knew that it was going be the biggest challenge in my tennis career.” World No. 8 Andy Murray powered into the third round with a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory over Marinko Matosevic on Court No. 1. Murray stated: “I was just trying to make sure that my intensity was there every moment, especially at the beginning of the sets. I managed to get ahead early in all of them, and that helped.” In the third round he meets Philipp Kohlschreiber, who ousted Denis Istomin for the second time within a week. The German won 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2 this time, producing a 1:5* comeback in the 2nd set tie-break. World No. 13 Richard Gasquet gave the French crowd reason to cheer as he overcame Carlos Berlocq 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4. Gasquet – just like Istomin – blew a 5:1 lead in the tie-break, but made a vital forehand winner at 5-all. The Frenchman, playing his first clay-court tournament in 2014, converted 4 of his 10 break points and won 32 of his 48 net approaches to prevail in 2 hours and 42 minutes. “On clay, I’m not so well trained,” said Gasquet. “I don’t have much practice behind me. It’s very difficult. You have to use your mental strength. But right from the first set, it was difficult already, but I stayed in the match. I played in a very serious way. I tried not to get unnerved. It could not have gone better than winning in three sets today.” He goes on to challenge No. 24 seed Fernando Verdasco, who fought back from two sets down for the fifth time in his career to beat Pablo Cuevas 4-6 6-7(6) 7-5 6-4 6-3. Victory in just under 4 hours for Verdasco ended his five-match losing streak in five-set contests. Verdasco had opportunities to win the two opening sets, he led 4:1* in the 1st set and had two set points in the 2nd (after trailing 0:4 before), but kept his composure serving to stay in the match in the 3rd set – he was three points away from defeat leading 30/15 in the 10th game of that set. Gael Monfils saved six set points in the 1st set of his match against Jan-Lennard Struff, and won it 7-6(4) 6-4 6-1. At 2:1 in the 3rd set, Monfils made an extraordinay dive which would have been concluded with a broken hand! Nothing bad happened though, and the Frenchman took the last four games since then. World No. 39 Marcel Granollers got the better of in-form this season Alexandr Dolgopolov, who committed 96 unforced errors, in a 1-6 3-6 6-3 6-0 6-2 victory just over 3 hours. Granollers’ 10-4 in five-setters – one of the best records among active players. The second seed, Novak Djokovic improved to 22-0 in sets against Jeremy Chardy, when he beat the Frenchman for the ninth straight time 6-1 6-4 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon for a place in the third round. “I managed to play some good tennis and [I am] already feeling like I’m improving my game as the tournament progresses,” said Djokovic. “I managed to make him play an extra shot. I managed to stay solid from the baseline and I think that forced him to make a lot of unforced errors, which definitely helped me to win in straight sets.” Djokovic has a 33-match winning streak against French opponents dating back to November 2010 at the BNP-Paribas (l. to Michael Llodra). Djokovic will next play No. 25 seed Marin Cilic, a winner of two ATP World Tour titles this year, who fired 49 winners – including 19 aces – past Tobias Kamke in a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-0 win mid-afternoon. “I’m going to have to be playing even better against Marin next round,” said Djokovic. “Since he started working with Goran Ivanisevic he’s playing very, very, very good. He’s a big guy, and he can play really aggressive. If he feels the ball well, he can be dangerous.” Sixth seed Tomas Berdych battled hard to beat Aleksandr Nedovyesov, currently No. 99 in the ranking, 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 6-3 on Wednesday for a place in the Roland Garros third round for the fourth time. Berdych won 83 % of his first service points against 27-year-old Nedovyesov, whom he also beat in this year’s Australian Open first round (6-3 6-4 6-3 then). Berdych will next face No. 27 seed Roberto Bautista-Agut. “It was definitely a tough one,” said Berdych. “He really was playing well. The only thing I was struggling with was his serve. Once I found the rhythm how to return that, it was fine. That was the key of the game.”John Isner beat the darkness, drizzle and Mikhail Kukushkin, closing out with a powerful serve a 6-7(6) 7-6(4) 6-3 7-6(4) victory in 3 hours and 18 minutes. The 10th-seeded American fired 35 aces and saved 10 of 11 break point chances (unbroken in the last three sets). “I wouldn’t say 100 per cent pleased with how I played, but I’m 100 per cent pleased that I’m through to the next round,” he said. “Definitely I have relied on my serve so much these first two rounds, which is fine, but I wish it didn’t have to be that way, so I’ve got to get better.”Roger Federer has become the first man in tennis history to record 60 or more match wins at all four Grand Slam championships. Fourth seed Federer extended his winning streak to 20 matches against qualifiers at Grand Slam championships on Wednesday when the 2009 Roland Garros champion beat Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. Federer notched his 60th victory at Roland Garros with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 win against the World No. 109, who was making his first appearance at a major, on Court Suzanne Lenglen. “I think it was kind of tough all the way through for me,” said Federer. “I didn’t feel relaxed for the entire matchFernando Verdasco… He managed to put pressure on me and keep the pressure on me.” The 32-year-old Federer is 73-11 at the Australian Open, 60-14 at Roland Garros, 67-8 at Wimbledon and 67-9 at the US Open! Last year’s semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 13 seed, entertained French support by beating Jurgen Melzer 6-2 6-3 6-4. Jerzy Janowicz, the No. 22 seed, will next face Tsonga after a 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4 win over Jarkko Nieminen. Janowicz hadn’t won two matches in a row since February when he lost in Rotterdam to Berdych, which initiated his shocking 9-match losing streak. “Jerzy is a difficult player,” said Tsonga. “You never know exactly what to expect on court. He’s rather unpredictable. He’s very tall, he strikes hard. So you have to find a way to neutralize him and it’s not always that easy.” Nieminen was in a winning position of each set: 6:5* (30/0) in 1st set, 5:3* in 2nd & 3:0* in 3rd.“I played against Simon in Paris, so I know what to expect against Tsonga supported by the local crowd“, commented the Pole.
First round: ATP
Japan’s Kei Nishikori  has become the first major casualty at Roland Garros. World No. 59 Martin Klizan proved too strong for fellow 24-year-old Nishikori in a 7-6(4) 6-1 6-2 first-round victory on Monday. “The key was [winning] the first set,” said Klizan. “We were breaking each other four times in the first set. I was down *3:5, so it was [a] very, very tough comeback. [Once] I won the first then, then I think I was the better player on the court… I was very focused.” “I was really disappointed with my performance,” said Nishikori, who watched some videos during the one-hour rain delay. “I was playing good in the first set, because I was more offensive and I didn’t [commit] many unforced errors in the first set. It could be different if I could get the first set. I was playing well on clay in Europe, so it’s very sad for me to lose first round here. But it’s good [that] I didn’t have another injury.” Roger Federer needed just 84 minutes in an opening-round rout of Lukas Lacko to open his Roland Garros campaign on Sunday. Federer prevailed 6-2 6-4 6-2, firing 40 winners and breaking the Slovak’s serve on five occasions. It was the 32-year-old’s first match victory since the birth of twin boys Leo and Lenny two weeks ago. “I’m happy I got off to a good start for the tournament here in Paris,” said Federer. “There’s always that little bit of feeling that if you don’t feel well, if the opponent plays great, you could lose early. I was happy getting the early signs out of the match that I was actually playing well and I was going to get my chances. I’m very pleased with the outcome.” In other action, former Top 10 talents Mikhail Youzhny and Radek Stepanek both overcame two-set deficits to book a second round encounter. Youzhny outlasted Spanish young gun Pablo Carreno-Busta 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-0, breaking serve eight times. The 31-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2010, rallied from an 0-2 deficit for the fifth time in his career. Stepanek snapped a three-match losing streak in Paris, defeating Argentine Facundo Arguello 6-7(8) 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-2 in nearly three and a half hours. The Czech, who is competing in his 11th Roland Garros (12-10 record), came back from down two sets to none for the sixth time and first since the 2013 Australian Open (d. Troicki), Arguello was making his Grand Slam debut. Milos Raonic triumphed 6-3 7-6(1) 6-3 in exactly two hours, blasting 27 aces against Nick Kyrgios, 54 total winners and breaking serve four times. “I felt very good,” exclaimed Raonic. “I was able to do the things I wanted to do.” In other action, Jarkko Nieminensquandered six set points in the opening set, but won his 50th Grand Slam match, overcoming Michal Przysiezny 6-7(7) 6-4 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4 under four hours. Nieminen won five of 21 break points garnered, benefiting from 80 unforced errors by his Polish opponent (five-set records: Nieminen 20-11, Youzhny 21-13, Stepanek 16-22). Przysiezny has lost 12 consecutive matches, Vasek Pospisil  has lost 7 after being eliminated in straight sets by Teymuraz Gabashvili. Nieminen will face another Pole, No. 22 seed Jerzy Janowicz, in the second round after the young gun beat Grand Slam debutant  Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4. The 33-year-old Estrella is the second player from the Dominican Republic to compete in a major (Manuel Morales appeared at Roland Garros in 1956). Janowicz, who entered the tournament with a stunning 9 defeats in a row, blew a match point in the tie-break, but managed to break his inferior opponent in the 10th game of the 4th set. Second seed and 2012 runner-up Novak Djokovic cruised past Joao Sousa,  6-1 6-2 6-4 for a place in the second round against Jeremy Chardy. “I played, for most of the match, quite solid,” said Djokovic. “[The] end of the match was not so nice from my side. [I] dropped my serve twice.” World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, contesting his first major as a Grand Slam champion, bowed out in the first-round match against Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez  on Centre Court. Garcia-Lopez broke the Swiss eight times from 12 opportunities, finishing the match with a flourish, 6-4 5-7 6-2 6-0. Nine years ago Garcia-Lopez stunned No. 3 Carlos Moya in four sets in the first round of the Australian Open. Wawrinka, a quarter-finalist last year in Paris, committed 62 unforced errors to 28 for the victor. “I was trying to find my game, trying to find to be aggressive, trying to find anything, and I didn’t,” said Wawrinka, who became the first reigning Australian Open champion to bow out in the first round of Roland Garros since Petr Korda in 1998. “It’s a tough loss, for sure,” he added. “I’m sad, but maybe it’s going to be very positive the rest of my season. Maybe it will put my ideas in the right place, and maybe it will give me answers to the questions I have for the rest of my season, for the rest of my career.” Defending champion Rafael Nadal made a strong start in his bid for a ninth Roland Garros title, improving to a 60-1 mark at the clay-court major with victory over American Robby Ginepri  on Monday. Nadal raced through the opening set in 29 minutes, after winning the first game on a Ginepri double fault on his fifth break point chance. Ginepri held his first three service game of the 2nd set before the top seed pulled away for good, rolling through the last 10 games to clinch the 6-0 6-3 6-0 win. Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis  made a memorable and emotional Grand Slam debut, battling to a 6-1 6-2 1-6 3-6 18-16 victory over Julien Benneteau . Bagnis clinched the 4-hour, 27-minute victory with a volley into the open court, and fell to the ground in celebration. Two years ago, Paul-Henri Mathieu had come up on the winning end of an 18-16 decisive set, prevailing against John Isner in the longest match at Roland Garros by numbers of games played. “Given the fact it was Roland Garros, of course it’s cruel,” said Benneteau, who came to Bagnis’s side of the net to embrace the winner. “But honestly, I want to congratulate him. He was huge. He served perfectly each time. He was present everywhere on the court. Sometimes it’s just hard.” The 24-year-old Bagnis, who had never defeated a Top 50 player prior to the match, sat on Court 1 even after all the spectators had departed, crying and talking on his phone. Bagnis saved a match point at 10:11 with a service winner, he was forced to serve 12 times to stay in the match after squandering a 4:2* (30/15) lead in the decider! Benneteau until his tournament No. 158, had not lost a match wasting a match point – since then, he lost seven MP-up matches in the following 80 tournaments… Just three days after contesting his first clay-court final for seven years, Ivo Karlovic  has caused a big upset at Roland Garros. In-form Karlovic hit 22 aces and lost just seven of his first service points to defeat No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 7-5 7-6(4) in just under two hours. It was the 40th clay match win of his career and avenged his loss to Dimitrov at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia two weeks ago. On Saturday, Karlovic contested his first clay-court final since 2007 Houston losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Dusseldorf Open final. “It’s never easy to play against Ivo,” said Dimitrov. “Of course, it’s a big disappointment for me. I liked my chances here. [I’ve] been playing good tennis on the clay courts, so I don’t want to be too disappointed.” Seventh seed Andy Murray made a welcome return to Roland Garros on Tuesday as he started his quest for a first clay-court title with a 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Andrey Golubev .em Last year, Murray missed the Grand Slam championship due to injury. Murray, who has won 28 tour-level titles, has reached the semi-finals at four clay Andreas Seppievents – 2009, 2011 Monte-Carlo, Rome & Roland Garros in 2011. He will next play Australian Marinko Matosevic, who recorded his first Grand Slam victory on his 13th try by defeating Dustin Brown 7-6(5) 6-4 6-7(1) 7-5 when the Jamaican-German player double faulted on match point. Matosevic celebrated the victory falling on the ground and rolling ~7 meters as he covered himself. He won the final six games of the match (saved a double set point at *1:5). The worst Grand Slam record belongs to Juan Antonio Marin, and it’s 0-17 –Filippo Volandri has lost his 18th consecutive Grand Slam match as he was dismissed in straight sets by Sam Querrey.Fernando Verdasco, the No. 24 seed, beat wild card Michael Llodra 6-2 7-6(4) 7-6(3). Llodra was making his final singles appearance at Roland Garros, where he has competed for 15 straight years. Llodra appeared in 49 Grand Slam tournaments in singles, never reaching the quarterfinals (lost four times in the fourth round). He couldn’t convert any of his four set points in the 2nd set & suffered a back injury trying to serve to stay in the match in the 12th game of the 3rd set. Against the rules he received the treatment at ‘deuce’, won two points in a row forcing the tie-break which he lost 3/7 barely moving. After the match he enjoyed standing ovation,together with his son…Miloslav Mecir Jr. : ATP lost his first Grand Slam match 5-7 6-7(2) 6-7(1) to Tobias Kamke; Miloslav Mecir Sr. debuted at Roland Garros 30 years ago, also losing in 1R. Tommy Haas retired leading 5:2* (30/40) in the opening set against Jurgen Zopp due to shoulder injury. It’s Haas’ 23rd retirement (22 – Nikolay Davydenko, 20 – Janko Tipsarevic, 19 – Jerome Golmard, 18 – Llodra). On Court No. 7, one of the youngest players in the draw (b. 1994), French qualifier Laurent Lokoli  squandered a 4:0 lead in two consecutive sets against Steve Johnson . The first time without consequences because won 2nd set in a tie-break saving three set points, but on the other occasion, Johnson took his opportunity having saved two match points. When the young Frenchman began to fade, the match was suspended due to darkness (at 9:33 pm) while Johnson was leading 3:1*. After the resumption on the following day (Wednesday) the American kept his nerves and finished the job 4-6 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-3 in 3 hours 57 minutes. Johnson’s first five-set victory in six tries.