The new, the old rule French Open, the future looks Nigerian
The story of the 2017 French Open is summated in the great gift of the French language to mankind: C’est la Vie. That is the way things happen in our existence. The French expression conveys much. As with other expressions, the translation will be but an approximation. History is the chronicle of events as they happen; ‘la Lumiere de la Verite.’ When the curtain fell on the fiesta in Rolland Garros, the Matador from Spain made history.
The winner of the Women’s Trophy, la debutante from Latvia in the Baltic, wrote history while her runner-up Simona Halep, the anointed winner before the finals, would find consolation in the words: it is only a game. And the winner of the girls’ singles, Whitney Osuigwe of the U.S., is of Nigerian heritage.
In any tennis tournament, the factor of the draw is important for the outcome. Nadal had easy six matches leading to the final. The expected semi-final showdown with Austria’s Dominic Thiem (his conqueror in Rome) did not occur. The Master dismissed one of the three musketeers poised to upstage his generation.
The German, ninth-seeded Alexander Zverev (winner in Rome) fell to Fernando Verdasco in the first round. Belgium’s David Goffin was leading 5-4 in the first set of his third round match when he suffered injury from a slip and retired. There was justified concern about Nadal’s match-fitness but his freshness turned positive against a battle-weary Stan Warwinka who had been worn down in a five-set semi-final battle with top seeded Andy Murray.
Simona Halep was the anointed champion, after the exit of top seed Angelique Kerber and defending champion Garbine Muguruza. She also had superstition on her side, having survived match point in quarter-finals and proceeding to a three-set semi-final victory she attributed to her newly gained positive attitude.
However, the title was not to be hers. Her opponent had only one game plan: outright attack. It was reminiscent of the confidence instilled by Harry Hopman into the Australian Davis Cup players, who monopolized the competition for a decade: “When under pressure go for the lines.”
True, you will miss some but better if the aggregate is in your favour. For Jelena Ostapenko, although the 54 winners were equal to the unforced errors, the latter happened when they determined the games.
The show in Roland Garros was a predominantly European affair. The red stuff is the surface of tennis courts across the sub-continent. Within the community of nations, however, Spain paraded more players in the two major draws than any other. Nadal faced compatriots Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round and the quarter-finals.