The French love to shorten words and expressions, so “une cata” is short for “une catastrophe.” A catastrophe the 2016 French is not yet but more rains like the ones that totally cancelled play on Monday and only allowed for a bit more than two hours action on Tuesday are going to put the tournament in that very uncomfortable position between a rock and hard place.
On Tuesday around 6 p.m. about an hour before play was called off, spectators still milled around with about the only thing to watch a large video screen on the side of Court Suzanne Lenglen. It counted down major happenings at Roland Garros over the past decades and when it came to “#1” – it was the absent darling of the French crowds who got top spot – Roger Federer and his triumph at Roland Garros in 2009. Above he is celebrating that glorious moment, one that often seemed like it would never come with the awesome Rafael Nadal running off titles one by one, year after year.
Sunday’s complete rain-out was only the second in the history of the tournament – the others coming on May 25, 1930, and May 30, 2000. That shows how rare this kind of weather is in Paris but with the forecast over the next few days – especially Thursday and Saturday – not too promising there’s potentially a scheduling nightmare ahead for the tournament organizers.
Asked if the event could have a Monday (June 6) final, co-tournament referee Rémy Azémar said, “that’s a real possibility.”
But both Azémar and tournament director Guy Forget have said that there is nothing to stop them from scheduling matches (even men’s best-of-five matches) back-to-back without days of rest in between. Still Forget implied they would not be unreasonable. “If a finalist has finished his semi-final the day before and the other has battled all the way to 7-5 in the fifth set finishing at nine o’clock, we’re probably not going to send him out on the court the next day.”
The rule of thumb in these situations is usually that as long as there are as many days left as there are rounds to play, the tournament can finish on time.
The way things are in the top half of the men’s draw top seed Novak Djokovic (one set apiece and 4-1 up on Roberto Bautista-Agut) and the other potential winners would have to finish their round-of-16 matches on Wednesday and then play back-to-back quarter-finals and semifinals on Thursday and Friday. Then it would be a day off and the final on Sunday, June 5th as per the schedule.
Second seed Andy Murray and the others in the bottom half, who are already into the final eight, would have a significantly more manageable quarter-final on Wednesday and then day off before Friday’s semifinals.
On the women’s side, there’s something similar happening with the top seed Serena Williams. Defending champion Williams is going for her fourth Roland Garros championship, which would tie her with Steffi Graf with at least four titles at each Grand Slam event. She has played three matches over the first 10 days and now likely has to face the challenge of playing four in the next four days if the women’s draw sticks with its intended Saturday, June 4th final.
Williams was so battered physically and mentally after the summer and her travails in her six rounds at the 2015 US Open that she took the rest of the year off. Dominant as she can be, the oldest (34) player left in the draw could be the most vulnerable with such a heavy line-up of matches and no days off in between.
She begins Wednesday with an 11 a.m. (5 a.m. EDT in Canada) match against Elina Svitolina.
Through all the frustration of rain delays and cancellations, through the monotony and discomfort of lingering in the grounds with no tennis to watch, there still have been touches of humour.
You had to like these two headlines in French papers on Tuesday.
“Pas une goutte de tennis” (Not a drop of tennis), topped one story in L’Equipe.
In Le Parisien, there was a better word play: “Jeu, set et bache” (game, set and cover), with ‘bache’ being the French word for the tarps that are drawn over the courts when it rains.
Milos says thanks
Milos Raonic’s support group were not happy campers when the No. 8 seed was beaten 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 by No. 55-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the round-of-16 at Roland Garros on Sunday.
But the man himself seemed to be in better spirits Tuesday when he posted the following:
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Firstly, I must say a big thank you to all of my supporter. Your kind words of encouragement are always pleasant to hear and read. They energize and motivate. Secondly, this clay season has come to an end, the most positive thing many lessons were learned and I came out on the other end of it stronger and better. It didn't end the way I would have wanted by any means but I put it all out there and that goes a long ways. Lastly, I am very hungry and excited to move forward and start on my journey on grass. It presents many challenges but I know with the people around me and my unmatched dedication, work ethic, and ambition I can turn that into some great moments and emotions. I am looking forward to getting back to my game, with the right mentality. I have endless goals I wish to achieve. See you on the grass. Thank you #TeamMilos Milos
Raonic has a modest 18-13 (.581) record on grass but those numbers are skewed by several losses early in his pro career, some trepidation when he first returned to play after his fall on damp grass in 2011 and subsequently had hip surgery as well as the fact that he was not fully fit for last year’s grass-court season after a foot operation on May 11.
In a recent interview, Raonic admitted that it took about two years for him to get comfortable again on grass after the trauma of his fateful tumble on Court 3.
In 2012, he lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Sam Querrey and then in 2013 he was beaten by Igor Sijsling, again in the second round.
The year most people like to use as a reference now is 2014 when he reached the semifinal, beating Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios in the round-of-16 and quarter-finals before losing to Roger Federer.
A year ago Raonic was just not ready and said about his fitness after he lost 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3 to Kyrgios, “I’m just dealing with a lot of things. I still have some discomfort in my feet, so compensations and stuff like this just make any pain pretty much come up. The more I got through the match the more difficult it was. The feet led to everything else. The feet are, I’d say, the instigator.”
If he’s healthy after playing the Queen’s Club event from June 13-19, he should be genuine contender at Wimbledon, especially if his serving and his volleying can reach the level they did at the Australian Open last January.
Sigouin mounts a comeback
Benjamin Sigouin was the only one the three Canadian boys in the junior event to make it on court Tuesday on yet another damp, drizzly, dreary day at the 2016 French Open.
The 16-year-old (he turns 17 on Friday) got off to an abysmal start against diminutive Argentine Francisco Vittar – falling behind 5-0 before staging an remarkable comeback to win the first-round encounter 7-6(0), 6-1.
“It was a really rocky start,” he said. “I came out down 2-0 and then we had a rain delay and I wasn’t feeling good with myself. I was very nervous. But I knew if I played well I was going to beat him so I knew I just had to stick with my game and eventually I was going to catch up.”
Sigouin came into Roland Garros off winning the doubles event at an ITF junior tournament in Milan, Italy, two weeks ago. Then last week in Charleroi, Belgium, he was runner-up in doubles and won the singles title over Ryan James Storrie of Britain.
About facing Vittar, who is only about 5-foot-8, he said, “I have some friends who played him but I never played him before.”
Describing the one-way traffic tiebreak, the big-serving, heavy ground stroking Sigouin said, “I had the momentum going with me so I just tried to ride with it. I started well. I knew that was key.”
It’s Sigouin’s second junior Grand Slam tournament – he played the qualifying for the 2015 US Open but then didn’t make it to the Australian Open earlier this year because on an injury. He had a wrap below his left knee on Tuesday but downplayed its significance. “(It’s) kind of growing pain – tendinitis,” he said. “I’ve been playing a lot of matches coming in and it’s taken its toll. But it’s nothing serious.”
About his background, Sigouin said, “my father’s French (from Laval, Que.) but my mom’s from the Netherlands and I live in Vancouver so I don’t speak French. I understand a lot because I train in Montreal sometimes but I don’t speak that well.”
He is 6-foot-3 – “almost 6-foot-4” – but neither of his parents are particularly tall. “My father is not that tall, neither is my mom, but her side (of the family) is quite tall,” Sigouin said. “I get it from there. My dad is like 5-foot-10 but my mom’s brother is like 6-foot-6. It’s definitely from that side.”
So far in his career, he has played second fiddle to promising Canadian juniors Félix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal and Denis Shapovalov of Mississauga, Ont. “Obviously they’ve been doing very well but I’m fine where I am right now,” Sigouin said. “I think it’s good not to have so much attention on me just being a junior. I like to play freely with not so much on my mind. I feel like I play better like that. So I’m fine with that where I am.”
An Eiffel engagement
— Taylor Fritz (@Taylor_Fritz97) May 30, 2016
Taylor Fritz, the 18-year-old American who currently has an ATP ranking of No. 67, proposed to his girlfriend Raquel Pedraza, also 18, in one of the most romantic locations in the world. Pedraza, a Californian like Fritz, is also a tennis player and competes in ITF junior events. Fritz’s uncle Harry Fritz, a former Canadian No. 1 and Davis Cup player, is currently resident in the Palm Springs area of California.
Paris post card
Le Moulin de la Vierge – translated means The Virgin’s Mill – is a patisserie on rue St-Dominique in the Paris 7ieme. When asked about the shop’s name, one of the women working inside could only come up with the explanation that it was because they were ‘Catholic.’