Like all Grand Slams, there were upsets, breakthroughs, and disappointments.
Here are ten things to remember from this year’s French Open — in no particular order.
1. Stan, The Man.
He defeated the odds-on favorite and World No. 1 in four sets — 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 — showing off the biggest shot in men’s tennis: his one-handed backhand. Djokovic was once again denied, after three finals, the one major missing from his resume — even after conquering nine-time champion, Rafael Nadal, in the quarterfinals. The underrated No. 8 seed has upset the top two seeds in each of his Grand Slam victories, the first of which came last year in Melbourne.
Wawrinka is starting to make a habit of disrupting The Big Four’s status quo, who had been all but unbeatable at the Grand Slam tournaments in the last decade. “My dream was to play Roland Garros, not win it,” Wawrinka said after winning the semifinal. “The people who have won it, to me, they are mutants.”
Welcome to the far reaches of the universe, Mr. Wawrinka.
2. Serena Williams’ 20th.
She played five three-set matches just to get to her 24th major final, and pulled the proverbial “rabbit out of a hat” against Lucie Safarova, running off six consecutive games to take her third French Open championship, 6-2 6-7(2) 6-2. Safarova was playing in her first-ever major final, and will make her Top 10 debut in the WTA rankings, at No. 7.
3. Mattek-Sands’ Doubles Domination.
Safarova went on to win women’s doubles title alongside partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands, defeating Yaroslava Shvedova and Casey Dellacqua, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4. This was their second slam doubles title of the year, having first won the Australian Open in January. Mattek-Sands is quickly becoming a must-pick partner across the doubles disciplines, with the American also winning in mixed doubles alongside Mike Bryan. For the year, she has swept three of four major doubles’ titles.
4. The Year of the Youths.
Though he fell in the first round to Martin Klizan, Maryland native Francis Tiafoe nonetheless made history when he became the youngest main draw wildcard at the French Open. There were more male teenagers in the draw than had been since 1978.
5. The Security Breach.
The Day 1 debacle at Roland Garros will likely go down in history as one of the worst at any Grand Slam. Roger Federer was approached and reached by a 14-year-old fan who wanted a selfie, following the No. 2 seed’s emphatic victory.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” Federer told the kid, but security didn’t arrive for several more seconds. It was the second day in a row that he had to fend off a fan, and the 2009 champion was furious in press, “Obviously, not one second am I happy about it.”
Gilbert Ysren, the French Open tournament director, apologized to Federer following the incident, reportedly citing a “lack of judgement” by security guards. Ysren also said, “Of course, we should not make too big a case of that…but it’s embarrassing, of course, for Roland Garros when something like this happens.”
His cavalier attitude and arrogance in the face of such glaring ineptitude should not be tolerated. Security has to be number one. You would have thought a country, and city, traumatized by masked terrorists that stormed the office of Charlie Hebdo killing 12 would have motivated tournament security to do a much better job.
6. Eugenie Bouchard’s Slumpy Ride.
Once the fastest-rising sporting figure, the reigning Wimbledon finalist lost in the first round in Paris, leaving her 2015 record in a shambolic 7-9. The Canadian was defending semi-final points, as well, causing her to tumble out of the Top 10 for the first time since that breakthrough run at the Championships.
7. Bacsinszky and Van Uytvanck’s Excellent Adventure.
Two dark horses revealed themselves in the City of Lights. In 2014, Bacsinszky had to qualify for the main draw and lost in the second round. This year she was seeded No. 23 and fought her way to the semifinals, losing to Williams from a set and a break up. Van Uytvanck entered the main draw as No. 93 in the world. On Monday, she’ll reach the Top 50, losing to none other than Bacsinszky in the quarterfinals.
8. The Shoddy Scheduling.
No major tournament starting a day earlier than the rest, yet find their schedule nonetheless falling into disarray. The most dismal example was the semifinal between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, which was scheduled second on Friday. The two Top 10 seeds had to stop before the match was completed due to a weather warning, which forced them to resume early the next morning. This meant Djokovic played three days in a row, which could well have dampened his ability to perform against Wawrinka in the final.
9. The Questionable Commentary.
John McEnroe’s comments and perspectives on NBC and Eurosport were worn out, spent, embarrassing. His inability to speak respectfully made more than a couple of viewers uncomfortable. During the women’s final, he classified Safarova as, “a poor women’s [Petra] Kvitova,” later saying her serve “has no impact.” He described Tomas Berdych’s legs as, ‘thick,’ Gilles Simon frame as, ‘frail,’ meaning what, exactly?
10. The American Dream.
Two American boys battled for the junior French Open title for the first time ever this weekend. Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz stood side by side and held an American flag between them after Paul won, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2, to become the boys’ champion. Though he lost, Fritz will be the top-ranked junior Monday.
“Everyone says that US tennis is bad on clay. I would have to disagree,” Paul told ESPN. “Right now, I think that obviously we’re doing pretty well on the clay. We had two people in the finals, and Bjorn Fratangelo won it in 2011. We are only getting better, I think.”
What was your most memorable French Open moment? Sound off in the comments!