The world-renowned French Open has concluded its first week of play, and already many stunning moments have occurred on the clay. In the 116 matches played, there have been exhilarating five-set matches and utter domination by many of the world’s top players. Most exciting of all, young stars like 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz and 20-year-old Jannik Sinner have been dominant, proving the next generation of tennis is upon us.
The biggest storyline entering the tournament was Novak Djokovic‘s return. He was prohibited from playing in the Australian Open after not complying with the vaccine mandate in Australia. This is his first grand slam since through the first week, and he has yet to drop a set. Despite Djokovic’s major success so far, his biggest challenge will be on Tuesday when he plays world No. 5 Rafael Nadal.
Through the first week, here are a few of the best matches.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Lorenzo Musetti (Round 1)
The 6’4″ greek monster Tsitsipas came into the match heavily favored being the world’s No. 4 ranked player. Despite this, Musetti did not surrender, as he broke Tsitsipas’ serve twice in the first set and ending up taking the set. Musetti took the second as well, giving him a two-set lead. Tsitsipas was magical in the third set, however, getting up 3-0 quickly and breaking his opponent twice to win his first set of the match. The rest of the match belonged to him, as he protected his serve well and broke Musetti numerous times. Tsitsipas took the match 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
Holger Rune vs. Denis Shapovalov (Round 1)
The up-and-coming 19-year-old Rune came into the French Open with serious momentum after his semifinal run in the Lyon Open just days prior. On the other hand, world No. 14 Shapovalov looked to recreate a finals run on the grass at Wimbledon just last year. Though not favored, Rune completely dominated the older Shapovalov. Rune broke the veteran twice in the first set, and twice in the second, while only allowing Shapovalov four games through the first two sets. The third and final set was much harder for Rune. He won the set tiebreaker 7-4 and took the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 7-6.
Alexander Zverev vs. Sebastian Baez (Round 2)
After an underwhelming Australian Open for the world No. 3 Zverev, he looked to make a deep run in the French Open. Zverev and Baez faced off in a three-and-a-half hour thriller, a match for the ages. Baez was the controller of the contest through the first two sets, constantly utilizing his drop shot to move Zverev around. Baez took the first two sets 6-2 and 6-4.
In the third, though Zverev shifted the momentum with his serve. He seemed to overwhelm Baez with his raw power and size advantage, as he handily took the next two sets 6-1 and 6-2. In the fifth set, Zverev went down 2-4 and was broken in the sixth game. Regardless, Zverev would break once and hold his serve a couple of times to make the set score 5-5. The next two games were all Zverev as he broke Baez and served it out, utilizing his “hammer” of a serve.
Carlos Alcaraz vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Round 2)
Alcaraz has possibly had the best year of any tennis player entering the French Open. He had won the Miami Open in April and beaten Djokovic and Nadal back-to-back in the Madrid Open. Despite his momentum, the 34-year-old Spaniard gave Alcaraz serious trouble. The match was back-and-forth, as Alcaraz took the first set 6-1, breaking Ramos-Vinolas’ serve on several occasions.
Ramos-Vinolas would go on to win the next two sets (each in seven games), making Alcaraz feel uncomfortable even on his best surface, clay. The ultimate highlight of this five-set match came in the fifth, where Alcaraz heroically came back from 1-3, putting together extraordinary points both at the net and from the baseline. Alcaraz took the battle in five sets, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.
Carlos Alcaraz vs. Sebastian Korda (Round 3)
This match was one of the most hyped matchups of the year. The young 21-year-old Korda, took on Alcaraz, even younger at 19 years old. Both have had stellar years so far, but the catch of this match was that Korda. The American was the only person to beat Alcaraz on clay this year. Despite all the hype, the match was rather quick as Alcaraz took it in three sets.
The three sets were three long, however, as Korda fought and tallied 10 games. Alcaraz looked more confident on clay throughout the match, often utilizing the surface to slide and hit magnificent shots. The matchup between these two young stars will be one fans will look forward to for years to come.
As the first week of the French Open has now concluded, the public looks forward to some of the best matchups to come. One specific matchup everyone should have their eye on is Nadal versus Djokovic, two of the all-time greats meeting once again. Nonetheless, it was a great week in tennis.
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