Some noted that the 2016 French Open was somewhat uneventful up until yesterday — well, Friday turned out to be the very opposite of that but probably not for the reasons anyone really wanted with Rafael Nadal withdrawing from the tournament. However, there was more to the sixth day that just the withdrawal of the 9-time champion in Paris, even if he dominated headlines.
Rafa bows out
When Rafael Nadal announced an impromptu press conference earlier this afternoon, the rumor mill starting spinning at the same velocity as most of the Spaniard’s forehands that had dominated the clay courts of the Bois De Bolougne for the past decade — but when a player announces an extraordinary press conference on their day off at a big tournaments, it very rarely forebodes great news.
After a few minutes filled with guessing and wondering, the 29-year-old announced that we was forced to withdraw from the tournament that built large parts of his legacy. A wrist issue that was quietly bothering him ever since Madrid earlier this month worsened to such degree that he was forced to play his second round match with an injection and was unable to practice on Friday:
While the quota of opinion pieces on Nadal’s career has certainly been more than saturated since the end of 2014, this is probably the moment that warrants them the most out of any of the blows he’s been dealt throughout the past 18 months.
The World No. 5 played some rather dire tennis throughout the clay season in 2015 –but this year, it’s his body that’s let him down after having played a more solid swing over the course of the past few weeks.
Nadal himself stated that the wrist issue probably isn’t so severe that it’ll require surgery, or a overly long break from competition. With his tennis at a level where he looked more competitive again, the far bigger question is whether his body is going to stand the test of time.
See you on, grass, Rafa. Maybe.
Freaky Friday scorelines
Shelby Rogers defeats Petra Kvitova 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0.
That’s some result for any match. Shelby Rogers already had a great week, defeating Karolina Pliskova and particularly a solid Elena Vesnina but Friday’s match was probably the pinnacle of the Charleston native’s tournament so far — as she handed the No. 10 seed two pastry products in the opening and deciding sets.
Kvitova struggling massively to get going, but Rogers also dictated rallies with depth and precision — never giving the lefty much chance to gain much rhythm. While Kvitova was able to force a tiebreak after being a break down in the second set, it was back to square one for the Czech and she found herself outgunned once again by the 23-year-old, who kept her on the back foot by virtue of painting lines and impressive depth.
Tsvetana Pironkova shell-shocks Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1
This was a beatdown made in Bulgaria. While Stephens had the initial break lead for 2-0 in the first set, it was a one-way traffic from then on. Pironkova’s serve and backhand were firing — and even her weaker forehand was applying pressure on Stephens. After 51 minutes, it was game over, and the American probably found exactly the right words for what way going on on Court 1:
The Ballad of Cornet and Maria
It was quite possibly the story of the Thursday — and it kept on giving on the Friday. In case you missed the dramatic and controversial encounter between the Frenchwoman and the German on Court 2, you catch up in our tweet-ography.
Tatjana Maria faced Alizé Cornet once again — this time in doubles — and the German got her revenge…but it doesn’t look like things are going to stop here. Earlier on Friday, Michael Llodra was on French TV saying that Maria was consulting a lawyer over Thursday’s match, which was later confirmed:
And while today’s match was uneventful — according to eye-witnesses anyways because it was on a non-streamed court (you missed out here, French Open) — yesterday’s firestorm continued raging behind the scenes, if Jon Wertheim’s words are to be believed:
Reem Abulleil also had an interesting chat with the German, who talked about the reactions from the locker room and her disappointment with the way things were handled:
Stay tuned because this one is far from over. Cornet will face Venus Williams in her third round on Saturday.
Come for the tennis, stay for the drama.
Cat and mouse and mouse and cat
One of the most entertaining matches — this time related to forehands and backhands — took place between Barbora Strycova and Agnieszka Radwanska and featured some of the points of the tournament so far. At the end of the three-set tussle, however, it was Radwanska who moved into the fourth round, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2.