On a somewhat uneventful day on court, the news of nine time champion Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the tournament has deprived the French Open of yet another battle royale as the projected semi final against the world number one Novak Djokovic on what would have been the Spaniard’s birthday on June 3rd on Friday will now be a no show.
Nadal has a left wrist injury and will have to concede a walkover to the fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the third round. Nadal had played his second round match against Argentine Facundo Bagnis with an injection in his wrist. Subsequent MRI and echography results were not positive and for the first time in his career he withdrew from a grand slam tournament in the middle of the proceedings.
The two fancied players in the bottom half of the men’s draw – the second seeded Andy Murray of Scotland and the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland enjoyed straight sets wins over dangerous opponents Ivo Karlovic and Jeremy Chardy respectively. Murray who had needed five sets in both his opening matches took advantage of Karlovic’s fatigue following a marathon 12-10 final set win against the Australian Jordan Thompson as he won 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3). Wawrinka defeated the French hope Jeremy Chardy with surprising ease 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
There was good news though for France as the ninth seeded Richard Gasquet decimated the next gen star Nick Kyrgios of Australia 6-2, 7-6(7), 6-2. Another Frenchman Giles Simon who had a come from behind five set win over the Argentine Guido Pella fell by the wayside against the Serb Victor Troicki.
There were mixed results for Spain and the USA. The fifteenth seeded John Isner needed five sets to beat the Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6(7), 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. However the American Jack Sock was beaten by the Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas also in five sets. The unseeded Vinolas won 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 against the 23rd seed Sock.
The remaining two spots have been taken by the established gen next stars who are still to win their maiden grand slam title. Both won in contrasting styles as Milos Raonic of Canada beat the Slovak Andrej Martin 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3. The sixth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan squandered a two set lead to the gallant Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco but came through 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4.
The following is the list of matches in the top half of the men’s draw on Saturday with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Aljaz Bedene
Jo Wilfred Tsonga (6) v. Ernests Gulbis
Dominic Thiem(13) v. Alexander Zverev
David Goffin (12) v. Nicolas Almagro
David Ferrer (11) v. Feliciano Lopez (21)
Pablo Cuevas (25) v. Tomas Berdych (7)
Roberto Bautista Agut (14) v. Borna Coric
Marcel Granollers walkover Rafael Nadal (4)
In the women’s section of the draw, second seeded Agnieska Radwanska of Poland and the 2014 finalist Simona Halep of Romania needed three sets to advance to the round of 16. Last year’s finalist Lucie Safarova was beaten by the 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia. Two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost to the American Shelby Rogers in three sets.
Notable winners were last year’s Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza of Spain and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. The remaining two slots have gone to the Romanian Irina Camelia Begu and Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]