Rafael Nadal ready to serve

Photo : Roland Garros

The clay season reaches its climax, which means we will have another Grand Slam champion by the end of this week. Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about the clay-court major, one of the four most important tournaments in professional tennis in the world.

Roland Garros Second Week – Must watch

The second week of a Grand Slam is where the top seeds and players in top form start meeting in the latter rounds – and where most all-time classics happen.

ATP clashes to watch

While still early, few rounds now separate the classic epic clash between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. A lot is on the line here: Nadal is trying to surpass Roger Federer’s 20-Grand-Slam-title mark, while Djokovic is trying to be the first male player to win all four majors at least twice and protect his World No. 1 ranking from Daniil Medvedev at the same time. Should the Russian reach the final and Djokovic fail to do so, he will overtake the Serbian in the ATP Rankings.

Djokovic hits a running backhand slice
Photo : Roland Garros

On the bottom half of the draw, the younger cohort of elite tennis players will face off for a place in the final: the exciting Stefanos Tsitsipas-Daniil Medvedev matchup will take place tomorrow in a quarter-final showdown. The Greek has been in top-form in this clay season, but only beat Medvedev once in seven attempts.

For a place in the final, Medvedev or Tsitstipas are likely to face German Alexander Zverev, who is poised to make another Grand Slam semi-final against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina. Zverev’s best result at a Grand Slam came at the US Open final last year, where he lost to Dominic Thiem in five sets, after leading by two sets to love and having championship-point opportunities in the fifth-set tie-break.

WTA clashes to watch

Iga Swiatek has won yet anohter straight-sets match at Roland Garros to reach the quarter-final of the tournament. She had a tough match with ups and downs against 18-year-old rising star Marta Kostyuk. Next for Swiatek will be the Greek Maria Sakkari, who is coming off a strong showing against last year’s finalist Sofia Kenin. Arguably the fittest player on tour, Sakkari will likely make the match against Swiatek a lenghty physiscal combat of great defense and brilliant baseline shots.

Surely, though, the player who has surprised the most this week is Cori Gauff. The teenage American has reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final, and has been winning with conviction. Yet to drop a set, the 17-year-old will be a tough opponent to beat in this tournament, and her showing will most certainly boost her confidence for tournaments to come regardless of her final result in Paris. Should Gauff win her match against Czec Barbora Krejcikova, the American will face the winner of Swiatek and Sakkari in the semi-final.

At the bottom half of the draw, hard-hitting tennis is trending. Elena Rybakyna squares off against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while 23-year-old Paula Badosa clashes against unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek. Notably, Rybakyna has ended 23-time Grand Slam Champion Serena WIlliams’ campaign, while Zidansek stopped Canada’s Bianca Andreescu in one of the matches of the year in the first round. Their epic clash ended 9-7 in the third set in favour of the Slovenian.

Roland Garros First Week – In case you missed it

Iga Swiatek on a mission to defend her title

As previously mentioned, Iga Swiatek’s run in this year’s Roland Garros has been everything she could have asked for a follow-up from her 2020 title-run and the Rome title a few weeks ago. Her game has been peaking since the Rome final against Karolina Pliskova. The newest member of the Top 10 seems to be feeling right at home among the World’s elite. So far, the Pole has dropped only 14 games to reach the fourth round.

Iga Siwatek Jumps with her fist in the air after a win over Marta Kostyuk
Photo : Roland Garros

Federer finds his form

Roger Federer seems to finally have found his game, having won three matches back-to-back for the first time since reaching the 2020 Australian Open semi-final (l. Djokovic). From putting up a clinic against Denis Istomin in the first round to seeing off an inspired Dominik Koepfer in a three-and-a-half-hour battle in his first night match on Philippe-Chatrier with no fans, Federer has delivered the tennis many fans have missed for over a year.

Unfortunately, the 39-year-old has announced his withdrawal this Sunday, the morning after his epic third round win. Federer, who has had surgeries on both knees over the course of 2020, has cited recovery time as the issue, saying he should “listen to his body.”

The Maestro will now focus on the grass season, playing Halle and Wimbledon. The 8-time champion of The Championships in London had already stated he had no expectations to win in Paris, but wanted to focus completely on the grass Grand Slam in July.

Canadians in action

Sadly for Canadian fans, all Canadian players have already left the tournament, with valiant efforts by Leylah Fernandez, Félix Auger-Aliassime, and Bianca Andreescu, who lost in the early rounds. They fought until the last ball and are confident they will bounce back in the grass season.

Fortunately for Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime, they will not have to wait too long to get back in play, as they start immediately in Stuttgart this week as the Nos. one and three seeds respectively. The Montrealer is on the hunt for his first-ever title and Shapovalov, while having missed out on Roland Garros due to injury, reached a third career final in Geneva two weeks before the Grand Slam’s main draw action began. Both players receive a bye in the first round, and will go on court later in the week.

Bianca Andreescu frustrated in a match
Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

In doubles, Gaby Dabrowski teamed up with Leylah Fernandez, while Sharon Fichman played alongside Giuliana Olmos, with whom she won the Rome title. Both teams fell in the third round, after losing in three sets in their respective matches.

Meanwhile, you can check out every other Canadian player in action around the world here.