World number two Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round yesterday but could not escape the shadow of Wimbledon, the Grand Slam tournament where he has been declared persona non grata. Medvedev, who came into Paris with just one match on clay this year following hernia surgery, routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve.
“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the opening round on his first four trips before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021. “I hope this year I can go further.”
One place he will not be going, however, is the All England Club next month after Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The ATP and WTA responded by stripping the sport’s most prestigious tournament of ranking points.
One day after former world number one Naomi Osaka revealed she was “leaning towards not playing” Wimbledon while defending champion Novak Djokovic said he will play – despite losing 2,000 points – in what he described as a “lose-lose situation”, the controversy showed no signs of abating.
“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” said Frenchman Benoit Paire 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 Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble.”
Denis Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2021, said he objected both to the ban and the decision to strip the points. “I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 percent like they have in the past,” said the Canadian.
The biggest loser on the women’s side will be Karolina Pliskova who will drop the 1,000 points by finishing runner-up to the now retired Ashleigh Barty in 2021. She too wants 50% of the points to be retained. She intends to return to the All England Club.
“If you love the game you’re still going to go and play,” said 2017 Paris semi-finalist Pliskova after making the second round by beating Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Russia’s Andrey Rublev, the world number seven, described the atmosphere as “toxic”. “Players need to defend the tournaments. Tournaments need to defend the players,” said Rublev after defeating South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a former Australian Open runner-up and world number five, bid an emotional goodbye to tennis after losing in the first round to Casper Ruud. The 37-year-old Frenchman was beaten 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) by the Norwegian eighth seed. “I hope the world can soon find as much peace I found today. Thank you Roland Garros. Thank you Mister Tennis. I love you,” said Tsonga.
Elsewhere, 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Shapovalov. “I didn’t really show up,” lamented Shapovalov, who committed 53 unforced errors.
Slovakia’s Alex Molcan defeated Federico Coria of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second round clash against defending champion Novak Djokovic. World number 38 Molcan is coached by Marian Vajda, the former coach of Djokovic.
Spanish third seed Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist last year, swept into the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over French wildcard Fiona Ferro while 2018 champion. Simona Halep defeated Germany’s Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to love, tackles Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier.
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