At the commencement of the French Open, hundreds of players of varying abilities entered Roland Garros in an attempt to ultimately conclude the contest as the victor. Yet, with the tournament now entering its latter rounds, it seems these stages may provide an insight into which of these aforementioned entrants may possess the necessary quality, drive and experience to attain the second Grand Slam of the season. This seems to be the case in the women’s draw as, whilst in the men’s competition the majority of the top seeds, including world, and British, number one Andy Murray remain, the women’s draw will see a guaranteed new victor, as all eight quarter-finalists seem to be striving for their maiden victory on clay, ultimately providing an intriguing finale to an already competitive tournament.
The French Open is one of four Grand Slams, and as such may be amongst the most pivotal opportunities for players to achieve ranking points and a trophy, both of which may contribute to increased opportunities, whilst simultaneously ensuring the enhancement of legacies. With the maiden tournament commencing in 1891, this year sees the 116th edition of the Slam, and it may be this longevity which has been the primary contributor to its high prestige and prize money levels. Yet, the organisers seem to have had to continuously improve the format in order to extend its relevance, most notably with potential development arising after the Paris mayor announced her desire to expand the facilities. As such, in showcasing innovation, whilst coupling this trait with continuing tradition, such as through the clay surface, the tournament has been able to extend its importance.
The men’s draw seems to have resulted in the expected outcomes, with seven of the top eight seeds reaching the quarter-final stage, yet it may be more poignant to focus the attention on the achievements of the British players, as their feats may be increasingly important as the necessity for Davis Cup players intensifies. World number one Andy Murray has reached the quarter-final for the fourth successive year, and this consistency may thus superiorly equip him to attain the trophy; earlier in the season, he seemed to be under pressure to replicate his feats from 2016, yet this seemed to be a challenge he relished, with his performance thus far in Paris emphasising his vast credentials. Fellow Brit Kyle Edmund reached the third round, winning €85,000 in prize money, along with 90 ranking points, whilst Aljaz Bedene and Dan Evans’ involvement also benefiting them in terms of increasing their experience at the pinnacle, whilst also proving the vast strength in depth British tennis possesses.
Conversely, in the women’s draw the competition seems to be increasingly challenging to predict, with the majority of the higher ranked players concluding their ties on the receiving end of the score-line, with the opponents often utilising the pressure on their rivals due to their superior seeding to their advantage. The most notable semi-finalist who seems to be aiming to replicate the achievements of her colleagues seems to be Jelena Ostapenko, with the 19-year-old’s performances enabling her to reach her first semi-final at the expense of multiple seeded players, which may ultimately hold her in good stead prior to the most prestigious and recognisable tournament in the calendar, Wimbledon, and prove the extensive array of talent in the sport.
Whilst it seems the majority of the players’ focus may naturally be on the final rounds, it seems fair to say they may also be aiming to utilise their experiences in Paris in order to enhance their chances of glory at Wimbledon. In the brief period between this tournament’s conclusion and the grass season commencing, the players may be looking to transition their technique to suit the faster surface, ensuring they enhance their repertoires in showcasing the ability to play on contrasting surfaces. As such, the importance of Roland Garros seems understandable as, whilst Wimbledon seems the more recognisable, the French Open also boasts similar credentials, and paves the way for competitors to complete what seems often regarded the most challenging feat in tennis: winning the two Grand Slams consecutively.
How may the British players utilise this tournament to ensure they retain their ranking status?