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French Open: Tsitsipas, Halep survive scares; Medvedev cruises

Last updated on: May 25, 2022 09:17 IST
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IMAGES from Day 3 of the 2022 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas survives first-round scare to progress in Paris

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against Italy's Lorenzo Musetti 

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against Italy's Lorenzo Musetti. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a first-round scare at the French Open, beating Italian Lorenzo Musetti 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to advance into the second round on Tuesday.

The Greek fourth seed was out of sorts in the first two sets before finding his range to set up a meeting against Czech Zdenek Kolar.

"It was a great first round. I'm going to keep working hard to improve and build a relationship with the crowd here," Tsitsipas said on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Musetti last year took the first two sets against Novak Djokovic in the last 16 before injury forced the Italian to retire.

 

On Tuesday, Musetti broke decisively in the 11th game in the opening set when an unforced error from Tsitsipas gave him a 6-5 lead. The Italian followed up on serve and took a one-set lead as his opponent buried a backhand into the net.

Musetti carried the momentum into the second set, racing to a 4-0 advantage as Tsitsipas continued to falter.

But the Greek found his range to stem the bleeding, pulling a break back.

Musetti served for the set at 5-4 and after first missing out with a double fault, he took a two-set lead when Tsitsipas made yet another unforced error.

Tsitsipas cantered into a 3-0 lead in the third set, maintaining the advantage to reduce the arrears.

The Greek moved 2-0 up in the fourth set, saved a break point in the third game to extend his advantage, only for Musetti to break back with a forehand winner.

But Tsitsipas made the most of his opponent's nerves to break again and go 4-2 up before levelling the contest.

The Italian had run out of gas and Tsitsipas was business-like as he wrapped up the match late in the night to extend his stay in Paris in the bottom half of the draw, where he will not have to meet defending champion Novak Djokovic or 13-time winner Rafael Nadal.

Simon draws inspiration from Tsonga in gruelling French Open win

France's Gilles Simon in action during his first round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta

IMAGE: France's Gilles Simon in action during his first round match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's battling performance in the final match of his career proved to be a source of inspiration for compatriot Gilles Simon, who defeated Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in a gruelling five-setter at the French Open.

Former world number six Simon, playing after Tsonga's loss to Casper Ruud on Tuesday, said his former Davis Cup team mate's spirited showing had spurred him on to a 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4 first-round win.

Simon, who is also playing in his final French Open, had failed to get past the opening round at his eight previous tournaments and was beaten 6-2, 6-1 by 308th-ranked Oleksii Krutykh at the ATP Challenger Tour in Heilbronn, Germany earlier this month.

"It's not my last match, but it will be my last Roland Garros, for my last five-setter, because it's my last Grand Slam," Simon told reporters.

"I said to myself, 'well, it would be great if we could see the true Gilles Simon one more time.'

"Not the one that lost two and one against Krutykh in Heilbronn. But the one who could be on the court, play three, four hours, and who is going to be brave and try to find solutions to fight back.

"That was my state of mind when I entered on the court. I said to myself, 'Well, Jo was really strong, and I want to do the same thing'. Sometimes you really want something and you don't succeed, but here I wanted it very hard, and I succeeded."

Simon will face American Steve Johnson in the second round.

Halep survives first round scare

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Romania’s Simona Halep plays a forehand against Nastasja Schunk of Germany. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Former French Open champion Simona Halep overcame a second set blip to beat German 18-year-old Nastasja Schunk 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 to book a spot in the second round.

Schunk entered the main draw as a lucky loser due to Ana Konjuh's withdrawal after the Croatian said on that she required surgery on her leg having suffered a fracture when she had a fall.

Medvedev cruises past Bagnis to begin Roland Garros campaign

Daniil Medvedev

IMAGE: Russia's Daniil Medvedev in action during his first round match against Argentina's Facundo Bagnis. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

World number two Daniil Medvedev showed no signs of discomfort from his recent hernia operation, kicking off his French Open campaign with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Argentine Facundo Bagnis on Tuesday.

The 2021 US Open champion, who briefly held the world number one ranking earlier in the season, played his first clay event of 2022 last week in Geneva after a two-month break but lost in the opening round to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Clay courts have not been Medvedev's strong suit and he was 0-4 at Roland Garros before last year's tournament but turned around his dismal record by reaching the quarter-final of the 2021 edition of the Grand Slam.

"I love Roland Garros, especially since last year," Medvedev said with a smile during his on-court interview. "Before that I don't know if I actually loved it given that I was out on the Sunday when the tournament was actually starting on the Monday.

"But now it's Tuesday and I'm still here. I've been well after my surgery, I didn't think I would be able to play on clay. But with the help of the doctors and the physios I've been able to be back on my feet to even play a match on clay last week and I'm 100% ready to play Roland Garros."

After trading service breaks at the start of Tuesday's contest on a chilly and windy morning on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Medvedev took control of his first matchup against the left-handed Argentine, ranked 103rd in the world currently.

The 32-year-old Bagnis, who retired with injury during his first round in Geneva, had his right leg heavily taped and suffered a fall while serving during the second set.

But he continued playing despite limping between points amid applause from the crowd.

The pair traded breaks of serve once again early in the third set but Medvedev, who hit 35 winners while keeping his unforced errors in check, kept his composure and broke his opponent twice more to seal the contest.

Medvedev will next meet the winner of the match between Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and Laslo Djere of Serbia for a place in the third round.

Rising star Rune thumps 14th seed Shapovalov in straight sets

Holger Rune

IMAGE: Denmark’s Holger Rune plays a forehand against Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Danish teenager Holger Rune swept aside 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in straight sets at the French Open to earn his first win in a Grand Slam tournament and confirm his status as one of the sport's brightest prospects.

The 19-year-old, who won his maiden tour title in Munich this month, powered past the Canadian world number 15 with ease, winning 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(4) and showing no nerves.

"I'm really positive and working hard every day to get better. This is what you work for every day, to be able to play the biggest tournaments," the baby-faced teenager with a bright smile told a news conference.

"You know, I'm super happy and pleased to be in this position right now, to be able to have chances against these guys, to be able to, you know, win my first title in Munich was a huge step forward in my career."

A former French Open junior champion at 16, Rune looked extremely comfortable on the red clay on the outside Court 12, cruising through the first two sets in less than an hour with Shapovalov having no answer to his power and serial drop shots.

"I just really like playing it (drop shot), especially on the backhand side," Rune said.

"It's very natural for me and I think it's good, especially here on clay when opponents are far behind the baseline, to mix it up. It's also more fun to watch," he said.

Rune had the chance to finish the contest with his first match point at 5-4 but sent an easy forehand into the net and gifted Shapovalov a set point two games later.

Another superb drop shot restored order and forced a tiebreak which Rune won when Shapovalov fired a forehand wide.

The teenager shot up from the 400s in the rankings in 2021 to the top 100 early this year.

He has already improved his ranking to world number 40, a major accomplishment considering he played for the first time in the main draw of an ATP tournament just over a year ago.

"I'm improving every day. I'm trying to improve 1% every day to get, you know, always to do things a little better than the day before," he said.

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