Roland-Garros: Notebook 10 – Nadal, the beautiful foot, the roar of Djoko, the character of Zverev and the impressive Martina

Rafael Nadal is still alive in this tournament! After a fight of more than 4 hours that ended at 1:15, he defeated Novak Djokovic and is nearing a 22nd Grand Slam title, a 14th Roland-Garros. The Spaniard is actually in the last four for a clash with Alexander Zverev, which casually looks like a final before the letter. Among the ladies, the beautiful story of Martina Trevisan deserves to be told. Just as it is about underlining the immense talent of the relaxed Coco Gauff.

Nadal perseveres… He doesn’t have an enlarged spleen or a crooked liver, but he often recalls having sores all over him. Except that yesterday the wounds were in the stands and he’s developed like a 20-year-old kid. Yes, as the ultimate fighter, Rafael Nadal once again unleashed “phew” punches and the warrior in himself to win the (not always exceptional) poster of the night in 4 sets. Poster of the week, poster of the fortnight, against Novak Djokovic. The title speaks to him. Entering this fight at 200mph while the Serb had the handbrake off, the man with 21 major titles built on his 1st lap success. Because everything he did before the rebellion of “Nole” – who overused 2 balls from 2 innings everywhere – bore fruit afterwards, especially as his comeback paid the Serb physically for it.

CURIOUS START… After a sentence and a half, we could believe that this poster, which we had expected mountains and wonders from, would go “shhh”. Because in front of an over-the-top Rafael Nadal walking beautifully on his two legs, a non-existent Novak Djokovic, bloated in the stocks, was far, so far from the level he had shown in the two weeks so far, and especially Sunday in Round of 16 against Diego Schwartzman. Had the Serb taken the label of favorite that fell to him once the programming was known badly? It has to be said that after the Jacquouille game – day, night, day, night, day, night… – the organizers of Roland-Garros Nadal seemed to have given Nadal a poisoned gift by putting him in a night session, which he did not like. Apart from the fact that the Mallorca Hulk immediately rolled up his sleeves on the pitch. But as the Spaniard led 6-2, 3-0, Novak Djokovic let out a scream. Out of that roar emerged the mighty champion who didn’t take long to be trampled. To avoid a “demontada”.

THE PUMP BLOW… After becoming formidable especially in that 2nd set of all upheavals, the fight calmed down at the beginning of the 3rd round when Djokovic experienced an enormous lull. A surprising weakness as we’re not used to seeing the Serb so uncomfortable in his sneakers at this level. He accumulated unforced errors and gave that round away to his biggest rival. Eight hours later he can still regret his start to the match and that 3rd set that surely cost him a place in the last four. And a 21st Grand Slam title in June 2022? Far removed from these considerations, the world No. 1 preferred to quickly pay tribute to whoever brought him down: “He deserved this win without a doubt. In a match like this you have ups and downs, playfully but also mentally. I gave everything, I could have done better, but I’m proud to have fought to the end.”

“MR” ZVEREV! By dominating Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev so subdued youth. Despite being just 25 years old, the German was indeed an old veteran against the Murcian’s passion, recklessness and talent. Some promised him hell, but the tall blond didn’t end up as a goat. On the contrary, enterprising, solid in the forehand, he very quickly dampened the enthusiasm of the “child” by removing the first 2 movements. Although a bit chilled, the Iberian managed to get back in the game, getting a 2-set ball everywhere, but in an exceptional final tie-break (what a level, my ancestors!), “Sascha” went to his place last four (6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6), as in 2021. Deserved!

A MATCH THAT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING? How often have we read, heard, even written in the course of Alexander Zverev’s career, which has already got off to a good start, that the match could become a reference match, a kind of positive momentum? Dozens, that’s for sure! But still: his courageous win against Alcaraz yesterday can still be seen as such. Rarely have we seen the Germans so concentrated and so calm in a match with such an effort. Also because for the first time in his career he could have a member of the top 10 at a Grand Slam tournament. So if he’s “spun” in 3 sets in the semifinals, of course we can laugh about it (but hey, we have the opponent’s apology). Nevertheless, Hamburg will undoubtedly be able to benefit a lot from this success.

TREVISAN, THE BEAUTIFUL STORY… Grand Slam tournaments, whatever they are, are always full of great stories, but Martina Trevisan’s is clearly the most moving of the fortnight. Qualified for the semifinals after beating Leylah Fernandez, the Italian stepped out of the shadows at Roland-Garros 2020 at almost 27 years old. Twenty months later, she returns to the top of the stage thanks to her 1st WTA title, which she won in Rabat and in this place, finishing last in Paris. If she was “delayed” in exploding despite a promising junior career (semi-finalist at Roland and Wimbledon 2009), it was mainly because she suffered from anorexia after her parents’ split. To the point of not wanting to see the ball anymore and being hospitalized. The Florentine, whose brother Matteo was No. 1 in the youth world, then devoted herself to teaching before turning back to her first love. Given what she’s demonstrating in Paris, she did well to reconnect with her racquet. Hats off madam!

COCO GAUFF, THE EXPERIENCED OR ALMOST… Cori “Coco” Gauff may only be 18 years and 2 months old, but she acts on the court as if she were 10 years older. The American, compatriot Sloane Stephens chewed up (7-5 ​​6-2), It’s amazing. Overwhelmingly calm. Stunning nerve. Stunning address. In short, a pleasure to see. However, we have to beware of sleeping water, because behind her smile and this pseudo-carelessness hides a monster talent and a hunger for victory in the young woman. His potential allows him. She will also have to take revenge against Martina Trevisan on Thursday. The only time they met, the Italian had defeated the one who was still a teenager. It was at… Roland-Garros, in the 2nd round of the 2020 edition (autumn).

4th PLACE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE… Note that at 18 years 2 months, Coco Gauff is the fourth youngest woman to join the last four from Roland-Garros in the 2000s. Before her: Nicole Vaidisova (beaten by Serena Williams in 2007), Amanda Anisimova (beaten by Ashleigh Barty in 2019) and Kim Clijsters (beaten by Jennifer Capriati in 2002).

RUUD ADVANTAGE! At the final night meeting of Roland-Garros 2022, Casper Ruud and Holger Rune will face off on Wednesday. If the Dane seems to have a tailwind in view of the 14 days, the experience and the statistics tend on the side of the Norwegian. In 3 encounters, all on clay, Ruud has beaten his neighbor every time: 6-2, 6-1 in Monte-Carlo in 2021, 6-0, 6-2 in Bastad last summer, then 7-6, 7 : 5 6 weeks ago still on the rock.

RUBLEV HOLDS THE ROPE… Now, if we look at the other men’s quarter-finals, set for Wednesday, it’s Andrey Rublev who takes the lead against Marin Cilic (4 wins 2). But the Croatian eliminated his last confrontation in January at the Australian Open. He also won their first fight, the only one fought on clay in 2015, in Geneva when the Russian nonetheless scored a match point (4-6 7-6 6-1).

AND FOR THE LADIES? On this day there are still two women’s quarterfinals on the program. The first will be the Russian duel Kudermetova-Kasatkina. The two only met once and Kasatkina won (1-6 6-1 6-2 in Saint Petersburg last year). In the other quarter, Iga Swiatek meets Jessica Pegula. It is currently 1:1 in the duels between the Poles and the Americans. Strangely, every time they played each other, the winner won the tournament. In 2019 Pegula won in Washington in 3 sets. In March, Swiatek took revenge in Miami. Does this mean that the confrontation is worth twice as much right now?

FELDBAUSCH ADVANCE… Kilian Feldbausch takes care of that. After a good start in the junior tournament, the man from Geneva flew through his second round against the Australian Jeremy Jin (6:1, 6:1). On Wednesday at 12:00 the semi-finalist from Melbourne meets the Mexican Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez, who for his part completed his first 2 rounds in 3 close races.

Arnaud Cerutti – @arnaud_cerutti

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