2019 French Open Review: Men’s Singles

Rafael Nadal Roger Federer French Open

The French Open ended just over a week ago. Have you already forgotten what happened? Did you somehow miss it entirely? Do not worry! Here is a recap of the key events in the Men’s singles and what it means heading into Wimbledon.

2019 French Open Review

Older players still going strong

The 1st round match between Crotain Ivo Karlović and Spaniard Feliciano López (both unseeded) was the oldest French Open men’s singles match in terms of combined ages in the Open Era (77 years and 11 months). Karlović was the oldest male singles player to compete in the tournament since Hungarian István Gulyás in 1973. It is truly amazing to see two players close to/in their 40s still playing at Grand Slam level. Hopefully we see more of this at Wimbledon to inspire adults in the UK to take up tennis to combat the Britain’s decline in participation in the sport.

Tsitsipas continues to make Greek history

Greek No.6 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros since Lazaros Stalios in 1936. Whilst Tsistipas does not have the most endearing character, what he is doing for his nation in tennis at his young age is truly outstanding. He exudes star quality, and look forward to seeing what he can do on the grass at Wimbledon.

Depth and consistency in the ATP at a high

The Top 10 seeds all reached the 4th Round at a Grand Slam men’s singles tournament for only the 3rd time in Open Era history, and the first since the 1970 Australian Open. It was also the first time since the 2013 Australian Open that all top four seeds reached the semifinals, as well as the first time since the 2012 French Open that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal (“The Big 3”) all reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam. This tournament showed that there is so much depth, consistency, and quality in the ATP right now, even outside of the three greatest players of all time. It will be almost impossible to replicate this at Wimbledon, but anything close at the sport’s most prestigious event will be exceptional.

Father time not yet calling for Federer

2019 was Federer’s first appearance at the French Open in four years. The No.3 seed’s third-round match marked his 400th match in a Grand Slam tournament, an all-time record. The Swiss also became the oldest male singles player to reach the semifinals since the 40 year-old American Pancho Gonzales did so in 1968. Federer’s play continues to defy the aging process and us fans should hope that this continues to be the case. The Swiss superman played tremendously well and beyond the expectations of many on his weakest surface, which bodes well for him to do damage at Wimbledon, on his preferred grass surface.

Djokovic and Federer miss out on Double Career Grand Slam

No.1 seed Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were both attempting to achieve the first double Career Grand Slam (winning at least two of every Grand Slam) in men’s singles in the Open Era. Djokovic was also attempting to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time. Unfortunately for them, they both lost in the semifinals, Djokovic to Austrian No.4 seed Dominic Thiem and Federer to No.2 seed Nadal. The fact that both Djokovic and Federer played so well across the fortnight and yet neither even reached the final gives me reason to believe that the Double Career Grand Slam may forever be an elusive achievement. However, it will be interesting to see who will bounce back better from defeat at Wimbledon.

Nadal once again creates French Open history!

Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open title, defeating Dominic Thiem in a rematch of last year’s final, 6–3 5–7 6–1 6–1. By winning the title, Nadal not only extended his own record for most French Open titles but broke the all-time record for the most singles titles won by a player at the same Grand Slam tournament, overtaking 11-time Australian Open champion Margaret Court. The first two sets of this final were truly exceptional, and Nadal and Thiem once again proved why they are known as the King and Prince of Clay respectively. Whilst the last two sets were lopsided, this was a step in the right direction for Thiem in terms of him trying to win his maiden Major. Whether Nadal can transfer this form and whether Thiem can break new ground at Wimbledon will be one of the stories of the Championships for these epic clay-courters.

Overall, this was one of the best editions of the French Open and Grand Slams in general for some time. The Big 3 are still going strong whilst NextGen players are also becoming reliable at delivering on the big stage and beating players they should beat. With the amount of depth in the ATP right now, Wimbledon this year could be ICONIC!

Main Photo from Getty