French Open 2021: Top player’s weaknesses exposed ahead of week two

Roger Federer found a way through a challenging third round match Picture: Twitter/ATP Tour

For the first time since 2014, the top three women’s seeds have failed to make it past the third round at the French Open. Meanwhile, it’s the happy youngsters and the Big Three that continue to dominate the men’s draw.

Women wear down the best

Each of the top three women has gone out in different way’s at Roland Garros this year, with Ash Barty forced to retire due to injury in the second round, Naomi Osaka making the decision to withdraw following her second-round win and now Aryna Sabalenka losing in three sets to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The slower Paris courts always left a question mark over Sabalenka’s name despite her stunning tour performances in May. Experts wondered whether she could go the distance at Roland Garros, however, in the third round, a high error count was ultimately her downfall.

Pavlyuchenkova proved to be consistent at the service line winning 55% plus of points regardless of whether it was her first or second serve. Not one to hit many winners it was the 31st seed’s cool head that saw her winning all games bar two that stretched out past three minutes including the five-minute game that really set the tone of the opening set, coming back from 40-15 to hold her serve.

The Russian has become a player to watch at the French Open since beating Sabalenka and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, and she will be tested once again in the fourth round against Victoria Azarenka who has looked very comfortable at Roland Garros thus far.

Teenage superstar Coco Gauff is now the favourite to exit her bracket in the second round after a short match against fellow American Jennifer Brady.

Gauff dominated the solitary set of the match, winning 6-1 and it was her strong first serve, winning 100% of first-serve points. Which helped her cruise to a first set victory. There was no second set due to Brady’s decision to retire due to injury.

As a result, Gauff will play 25th seed Ons Jabeur in the fourth round as the youngster seeks her maiden Grand Slam quarter-finals.

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Fed and Med continue to find a way

Andy Murray put it best about Roger Federer’s late-night match against Dominik Koepfer, he is an inspiration to continue to win despite the circumstances.

It was an unusual match, to say the least, going well into the night with no crowd to witness Federer’s heroics. The match also marked the first time in 424 Grand Slam matches that Federer played tie-breaks in the first three sets.

The issue for Federer now is the wear and tear on his body, the 39-year-old weighing up whether or not to continue on in the French Open.

“I have to decide whether or not to continue playing. Is it too risky to keep putting pressure on the knee? Is it a good time to rest?” Federer said following the third-round match.

Should he take the court in the fourth round his opponent will be Italian Matteo Berrettini, in what is bound to be a second consecutive physically draining match for the former world number one.

Weeks ago Daniil Medvedev jokingly pleaded to be defaulted by the chair umpire due to his frustrations with clay, now at the 2021 French Open you wouldn’t think that was the same man.

Winning his first three matches in style and looking comfortable on the surface for the first time in years the shift in Medvedev’s attitude has done wonders for his game.

Against 32nd seed Reilly Opelka, finally looked like the contender that could challenge Tsitsipas come the quarter-finals, out serving and receiving Opelka, winning 40 receiving points to the American’s 18.

He’ll face 22nd seed Christian Garin in the fourth round which should he get through he’ll be facing the favourite to make it out of the bottom half of the draw Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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About Jacqui Dodd 127 Articles
Jacqui is a journalist based in Melbourne. A fan of all things sports she primarily focuses on Olympics and Tennis news. You can hear her on The Inner Sanctum's Olympics podcast, Ascending Olympus.

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