Tsitsipas back on the brink as French Open clouded by Wimbledon row


Response: Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas © AFP / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

Paris (AFP), May 24 – Stefanos Tsitsipas came back from the brink to reach the French Open second round as Roland Garros was again overshadowed by the crisis engulfing Wimbledon.

Tsitsipas, the fourth seed and runner-up in 2021, beat world number 66 Lorenzo Musetti 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in a match that ended early Wednesday.

Greek star Tsitsipas triumphed as 20-year-old Musetti crumbled on the brink of a famous Paris win for the second straight year.

Twelve months ago, the Italian won the opening two sets against Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 before injury forced him to drop the final set.

He got off to a good start when the first-round draw of the night session began on Tuesday, sweeping the first two sets, beating Tsitsipas as he did against Djokovic.

But then came the familiar blackout and Tsitsipas comfortably pocketed the next two sets.

Tsitsipas entered the tournament after a successful title defense in Monte Carlo and a runners-up spot in Madrid.

He was also on a season-leading 31 wins that became 32 in the decider thanks to two more breakouts.

“It was positive and a good effort at the end. I didn’t feel very good in the first two sets, something was wrong with my game. Lorenzo wasn’t giving me any rhythm,” the 23-year-old said.

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– ‘The Russians cause problems’ –

A look at the second round: Daniil Medvedev on his way to victory against Argentinian Facundo Bagnis © AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

World number two Daniil Medvedev also qualified for the second round but could not escape the shadow of Wimbledon, the Grand Slam tournament where he was declared persona non grata.

Medvedev beat 103rd-ranked Argentine Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners.

“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the first round on his first four trips before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021. “I hope this year I can go further.”

One place he won’t go, however, is the All England Club next month after Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the Ukraine invasion.

The ATP and WTA have responded by stripping ranking points from the sport’s most prestigious tournament.

A day after former world number one Naomi Osaka revealed she was ‘leaning not to play’ at Wimbledon as defending champion Novak Djokovic said he would play despite losing 2,000 points, controversy showed no signs of slowing down.

“I will go there to collect my prize, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” Frenchman Benoit Paire said after a 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 loss to Ilya Ivashka .

Claiming that “99%” of players want a Wimbledon with points, he added: “I’m sorry for Russia and the Russians, but they’re the ones causing all the problems.”

2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov said he opposed both the ban and the decision to withdraw the points.

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“I think they could have done it differently, maybe kept 50% like they did in the past,” said the Canadian.

Winning form: Czech Karolina Pliskova en route to victory on Tuesday against Tessah Andrianjafitrimo © AFP / Thomas SAMSON

The biggest loser on the women’s side will be Karolina Pliskova who will drop all 1,000 points by finishing second to now-retired Ashleigh Barty in 2021.

– ‘Love the game’ –

She also wants 50% of the points to be kept. She intends to return to the All England Club.

“If you like the game, you’re always going to play,” Paris 2017 semi-finalist Pliskova said after making it through to the second round beating Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Russia’s Andrey Rublev, world number seven, described the atmosphere as “toxic” after beating South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in of his opening match at Roland Garros. .

Meanwhile, former Australian Open finalist and world number five Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has bid farewell to tennis after losing in the first round to Casper Ruud.

End of line for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga © AFP / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

The 37-year-old Frenchman was beaten 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) by the eighth seed from Norway.

“I hope the world can soon find as much peace as I found today. Thank you Roland-Garros. Thank you Mr. Tennis. I love you,” Tsonga said.

Elsewhere, 19-year-old Dane Holger Rune made his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Shapovalov, who committed 53 fouls direct.

Spain’s third seed Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist last year, advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over French joker Fiona Ferro as the 2018 champion.

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Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, beat Germany’s Nastasja Schunk, a lucky 18-year-old loser in qualifying, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

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