It is as you were then, the men and women’s tours pretty much remain as they have for the past two years. The Big Three, Four, Whatever still dominate the men’s honours list – such is this remarkable unprecedented era we are still very much part of. On the women’s side we continue to see an exciting emergence of young stars who are ticking all of the boxes. An all-court game, a nerveless approach on the biggest stages and seemingly a level-headedness off the court once the pressure and attention builds.
Iga Swiatek, who had shown real moments of promise on tour but had not yet won a WTA title, was some expert’s dark horse here. But make no mistake, this was history-making at it’s finest, eclipsing even the revelation that was Ostapenko’s vicory only three years previous. That is where the comparison’s already halt however. Ostapenko is sadly – despite some flourishes here and there – looking to follow the all-too-familiar pattern of a breakout star fading just as quickly as she emerged. It is too early to say for certain but such is her demeanor and her all-court playstyle [a world away from Ostapenko’s blistering but brittle do-or-die approach], but Iga could build on this in the same vein as Osaka and what i predict to be the case too for Kenin and Andreescu.
Going back to the history books, this was Swiatek’s maiden tour title as well as maiden slam, she is the first Polish player male or female to win a major title and she did so – like Rafa – without dropping a set, the first time at the French this has happened.
This feels like a genuine new era now on the WTA, it will be fascinating to see how it evolves when the world returns to normal and with it, a full calendar.
What of the rest of the tournament and it’s cast? One main take away has to be a worrying question mark over the current or middle generation. Former winners Halep and Muguruza had some excuse, beaten by Swiatek and the in-form Danielle Collins. But what of Pliskova, Svitolina, Keys, Mertens etc? They continue to flatter to deceive when it comes to the crunch. Serena bowed out with injury early on and Azarenka can be forgiven, given her heroics in New York.
No, it is becoming a bit of a pattern, at least Kvitova had a decent fortnight before succumbing to Kenin. Hopefully both continue their fine form next year.
Now, to the men and where else to start but the irresistible Nadal? There were some doubters going into this fortnight – myself included – would the 12x champ still be as dominant in such different conditions? Would Novak come out with added intent after his unceremonious and -again very public – exit in New York. Would Thiem’s statement of intent in winning the U.S Open result in a continued stepping up [finally] from the young guard?
Almost yes, Rafa and Djoko weren’t the only stories on the men’s side; Thiem, his conqueror Schwartzman, Tsitsipas, Sinner and others had wonderful tournaments. But on this surface and with these two still very much at the top it was still little surprise to see Nadal and Novak clash horns on the final day.
And this really is where the story of the tournament presides; the absolute demolition job this was – almost to the point of looking like a complete mismatch at the end of that second set. Djokovic could have been a little fatigued after the testing semi-final against Tsitsipas, but I honestly doubt it would have made much difference if the Serb had been at his finest.
Rafa was unplayable, he showed no mercy and – crucially – looked as fresh as he did say ten years ago. If not for that 3rd set, this would have been a drubbing to eclipse even the victories over Federer in 2008 and Wawrinka in 2017. All of this, at 34 – there is absolutely no doubt at all that Rafa will add to his now 20 majors, even if only here in Paris then we must be talking three or four?
The excruciating GOAT debate may soon be a thing of the past thank goodness.