Roland Garros was an opportunity, not just for fans to watch their favourites but for the players especially those who rely on these opportunities which haven’t come around that often this year.
The opportunities were taken and the stories behind the success of Martina Trevisan, Sebastian Korda, Nadia Podoroska, Hugo Gaston & Daniel Altmaier have been a delight to follow their stories in Paris.
As a junior in 2009 the Italian made semi-finals at two majors in the doubles and was tipped to be a big star in the future. From the end of December 2009 until May 2014 sadly we didn’t see Martina Trevisan. The Italian had some personal issues including a battle with anorexia and had to re-educate herself to eat and is now on a fairytale run in Paris.
This opportunity is one which has been taken without waste. Martina had never played a Grand Slam main draw match until this year, she hadn’t won one until this week and is now going into her third week at Roland Garros having won seven matches in a row to come through qualifying and make the quarter finals.
From not winning a match before to making the final eight with some massive wins over Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari and Kiki Bertens before going down to the eventual winner Iga Swiatek.
In 2016 a 19 year old Nadia Podoroska qualified for a Grand Slam for the first time in her career down in New York. The Argentine went out in the first round to Annika Beck and has since battled six qualifying draw but didn’t progress.
Players have stood in her way including Minnen, Putintseva, Schmiedlova and Barbora Krejickova but the Argentine from Rosario made the quarter finals pretty unscathed.
Standing in her way of an eighth consecutive win at Roland Garros and a place in an unprecedented semi-finals was the highest seed remaining in Elina Svitolina.
The pressure was on for the third seed but that struggle against players in-form in these latter stages of big events especially the Grand Slams just won’t go away. Even if Eli was trying to stay away from the talk people were using the phrase of “hers to lose” and she didn’t perform but Nadia did!
In the semi-finals Nadia lost to Iga Swiatek 6-2 6-1 who of course went onto win the title.
A bit of history in Paris as for the first time in the 123 year history a ladies qualifier has made the semi-finals of Roland Garros.
22 year old Daniel, had never even played a Grand Slam match or a qualifying match for a major before Roland Garros and made it through qualifying and into the fourth round.
Dan was ranked at 186 in the world and plays a lot of ITF events but this opportunity was one he took and ran with to the last sixteen!
He had only won two tour matches prior to coming to Paris but to get more under his belt he had to defeat some tricky players and all in straight sets. Feliciano Lopez, Jan-Lennard Struff and seventh seed Matteo Berrettini before falling to Pablo Carreno Busta.
Sebastian only turned 20 a couple of months ago, the 6’5″ American is ranked outside the top 200 at 213 coming into Roland Garros and his dream run has been magnificent to watch.
It has been a long week for Korda who for the first time in his career came through qualifying at a major. It was just a few weeks ago he made his Grand Slam debut in New York as a wildcard but lost to Denis Shapovalov in four sets.
Set defeated Andreas Seppi, John Isner and Portero reminding his physio to swim the Charles Bridge in the Czech Republic (which was completed)
His run came to an end in the fourth round but he was thrilled to be able to play his idol Rafael Nadal on Phillipe Chatrier at Roland Garros, his love for Rafa is soo much he even named his cat after him!
Hugo was on a four match losing streak on his way into Roland Garros on the challenger tour and was an entrant following a wildcard and he has paid it back in style.
The 20 year old is now the last Frenchman standing after seeing off Stan Wawrinka in five incredible sets in front of a small but passionate crowd on Suzanne Lenglen.
Easy to forget before this week Hugo was ranked 239 in the world and:
- Had never won an ATP tour match (0-2)
- Had never won a Grand Slam match (0-1)
- Lowest ranked player in R4 of a Grand Slam in 16 years
Suddenly the Frenchman is into the fourth round of his home Grand Slam in Paris having never won a tour match before the week. He defeated Janvier, a tricky Nishikori and the former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to set up a big meeting with Dominic Thiem!
Hugo was incredible to watch, he played his game. He had next to no experience at this level but put on a show. The drop shots tore opponents apart and gave Dominic Thiem a five set nightmare.
For him to hear his name being chanted by the small crowd on Court Phillippe Chatrier following his epic battle against Dominic Thiem must have been magnificent!