The Francoise Abanda – Jelena Ostapenko second-round match at Wimbledon on Wednesday had just about everything except a happy ending for the 20-year-old from Montreal. Ostapenko, the French Open champion, pulled out a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory before a packed crowd of 1,065 on Court 12.

It began about 7 p.m. when the long shadows were falling on the lush green lawn and ended with the light fading but still bright enough to be playable.

Abanda won the first set and led 6-5 in the second set with Ostapenko serving in a match where serving was not necessarily a distinct advantage. But Ostapenko steadied and won four straight points to force a tiebreak.

Two points probably decided the tiebreak (and the match) with Abanda leading 4-3 and serving. First she double-faulted wide of the centre line and then Ostapenko showed her champion’s mettle by whacking a bold forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead on the way to closing out the tiebreak 7-4.

Abanda led 2-0 in the final set but again Ostapenko didn’t falter, continuing to go for her big shots, with enough landing in to eventually give her the victory in an hour and 56 minutes.

Courtside it was striking just how low over the net the trajectory of the 20-year-old Latvian’s shots were, with Abanda’s shots having more clearance and consequently less penetration.

The match was largely on Ostapenko’s racquet – she wound up with 31 winners and 39 unforced errors while Abanda had 17 winners and 21 unforced errors.

Ostapenko went through patches of ineffectual play with her shots landing long or in the net – but then was then able to get on a run and just powder the ball with an accuracy and depth that was hard to counter for Abanda.

“I tried to stay aggressive,” Ostapenko answered when asked about her inconsistent, streaky play. “Maybe a couple of shots were out by one metre but some of them were very close – for sure if I’m going to hit some more they’re going to go in.”

That’s a confidence that comes from all the success she has had of late – including being on a run of having played eight three-set matches in a row dating back to a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Stosur in the round-of-16 at the French Open. The one loss was 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 to Johanna Konta in the third round of the Eastbourne tournament last week.

“Maybe I have to be more focused during the whole match but it’s a bit difficult now because everyone is ready to play against me,” Ostapenko said about the three-set matches. “Today when I got to the third set I was kind of calmer because I knew I have all the chances to win. The last eight matches I won in the third set so maybe I have this kind of confidence in the third set.”

Abanda regretted not being able to capitalize on her opportunities. “I feel I was so close,” she said. “I was up in every set. I felt like I should have closed it in the second. I gave it my all in the third.”

She spoke extensively about the tension in her racquet. “Honestly, throughout the whole match I didn’t feel comfortable with my racquet,” she said. “I should have strung my racquet a bit tighter because her balls come so fast that you have to counter them. I felt my racquet was too loose and I made so many unforced errors.”

The 20-year-old, currently ranked No. 142 but set to move up to a new career-best of about No. 120, claimed she should have strung her racquet at 60 pounds instead of 58.

She was also objective and analytical enough to recognize that an erratic Ostapenko was not at her best. “I think she didn’t play the greatest,” Abanda said about her old junior rival. “She made a lot of unforced errors. That’s why I feel like it’s unfortunate for me because I should have taken the opportunity to close it in the second set.”

Summing up she said, “I thought she was attacking me a little more and I let her control a little too much. That’s what made the difference.”

She and Ostapenko have played each other dating back to their junior days and Abanda noted about that in 2017, “it’s a little different because there’s so much in play. There are so many ranking points, you’re playing for a lot. It’s your career. It’s pros and I knew her from juniors and we had a little bit of a rivalry. To me I was just seeing Ostapenko like her in the juniors. I think we played at the French Open. To me honestly I wasn’t too overwhelmed with her winning the French but I knew she was going to play really well.”

Abanda, a qualifier, has a history of playing well on the biggest stages in tennis and she didn’t disappoint on Wednesday. The quality of her play in the rallies was impressive – she moved well and countered Ostapenko with aggression and perseverance.

It’s now up to her to continue her fine level – something she will next hope to do at the WTA event in Washington, D.C., at the end of July.

“I felt like it was a good battle and the crowd enjoyed it,” she said in her almost perfectly fluent English. “Overall it was a good match and I’ll get over it.”

As for Ostapenko, she talked about her biggest thrill since winning Roland Garros being an invitation to visit and have breakfast with the president of Latvia. It turned out it was on his birthday and she brought him flowers.

Asked if she had heard from the erstwhile best-known tennis player from Latvia, Ernests Gulbis, she replied, “not really.”

Then, when responding to a question about whether she had watched a replay of her French Open final victory, she said ingenuously, “I saw it once and it was a very good match. I think it was a good match for the final.”


Milos Raonic will attempt to reach the third round of Wimbledon for the fourth successive year when he faces veteran Mikhail Youzhny in the third match on No. 2 Court (after an 11:30 a.m. local – 6:30 a.m. ET in Canada – start) on Thursday.

Here are the three previous matches they have played:

2016: Youzhny def. Raonic 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4: R16 – St. Petersburg (indoor hard)

2013: Raonic def. Youzhny 6-4, 6-4: R32 – Coupe Rogers (outdoor hard)

2011: Raonic def. Youzhny 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4: R32 – Aussie Open (outdoor hard)

The loss in St. Petersburg, as mentioned in Tuesday’s blog, was a match that Raonic looked to have in hand before a home country Russian crowd spurred Youzhny on to victory.

The 35-year-old is playing his 17th Wimbledon with his best result being a quarter-final in 2012. A former world No. 8 (2008), the Muscovite is a father of two boys – Maxim, 7, and Igor, 5.

Raonic is playing his third match with Mark Knowles as his coach, with the 45-year-old Dallas resident having had previous experience coaching Mardy Fish.

“It’s been positive,” Raonic said on Tuesday about the working relationship with Knowles (pictured with him above) that started following the French Open. “He’s helped me out on a lot of things, especially from how other players perceive different changes of rhythm that I may be able to enforce throughout a match. So things that I can do to help benefit myself throughout a match, not only looking at it from the perspective of how do I feel, but also paying attention to the aspect of how does my opponent feel in these situations – trying to feed off that as well.”

As for a Knowles comment on coaching, he smiled and repeated the words of many like him who have been in his position, saying, “it’s easier being a player.”


Daniel Nestor and partner Fabrice Martin of France advanced to the second round of the Wimbledon doubles on Wednesday with a 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Brazilians Thomaz Bellucci and Rogerio Dutra Silva.

The match was pretty straightforward with the second-set tiebreak being key to the outcome. Martin began the tiebreak with an ace and then Nestor neatly angled off a volley winner to give his side the mini-break – a lead that was never really threatened.

“We played solid, served pretty well and came up with some good shots when we were down on big points,” said Nestor as he came off the court in a hurry to get into the locker room on a day when it was 30 degrees outside – the kind of conditions he tries to avoid.

No. 13 seeds Nestor and Martin will next face the winners of a match between Hugo Nys (France) and Antonio Sancic (Croatia) versus Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) and Andreas Haider-Maurer (Austria).

Nestor is entered in the mixed doubles with Andreja Klepac. The 31-year-old Slovenian ranks No. 26 in the WTA doubles rankings. They are the No. 11 seeds.


Vasek Pospisil and Julien Benneteau didn’t have too many moments like the one pictured above in their opening-round doubles match on Court 7 at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

There wasn’t too much reason to be frustrated as they beat Nicolas Kicker and Diego Schwartzman by a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 score.

The Argentine pair are more at home on clay courts and two experienced and successful doubles players like Pospisil, 27, and Benneteau, 35, were just a little too handy on serve, on the returns and at net for their under-sized opponents.

But they will have to take a step up in their next match when they face the No. 6 seeds – Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcel Granollers of Spain.


Gabriela Dabrowski and her Chinese partner Xu Yifan were defeated 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of doubles on Wednesday by the pairing of Elise Mertens of Belgium and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands.

The Belgian/Dutch duo were superior in every area with the 21-year-old Mertens, ranked No. 54 in singles, being the best player on the court.

An experienced observer of the match summed up afterward about Dabrowski and Xu, who won the Miami Open in early April, “they were outplayed start to finish.”

It seemed that any time Dabrowski and Xu started to get going, Mertens and Schuurs were immediately able to turn things back in their favour.

Mertens, 21, and the No. 60-ranked (doubles) Schuurs have been friends since their junior days, and actually the 23-year-old Dutchwoman now lives in Belgium.

The 25-year-old Dabrowski, ranked No. 23 in doubles, will now play the mixed doubles with Rohan Bopanna of India, her partner and fellow champion at Roland Garros last month. They are seeded 10th and have a first-round bye.


Several people made speeches during the Rogers Cup celebration at the Butcher’s Hook pub in Fulham last Saturday. That included recent French Open mixed doubles champion Gabriela Dabrowski, pictured here with the Grey Cup and Toronto tournament director Karl Hale. Her family roots are in Poland and she is proud to be a Canadian from her hometown – Ottawa, the nation’s capital city.


The lampposts along Church Road are decorated with flowers that more or less reflect the All England Club colours of mauve and green. And if you want a little tooting – just get aboard the 493 bus!