Twenty-Fifth Career French Open Win Makes Kvitova Happy

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Women’s seventh seed Petra Kvitova achieved her 25th career match-win at Roland Garros on Thursday. Her quick and efficient, 84-minute 6-3, 6-3 victory over Italy’s 94th-ranked Jasmine Paolini in the first match of the day on Court Simonne-Mathieu lifted her into the third round of this year’s French Open.

While the World No. 11 Kvitova is eight years removed from her best Roland Garros finish, when she reached the semifinals in 2012, her latest victory improved her win-loss record in Paris to 25-10, and it made the Czech No. 1 appreciative about how she achieved it.

“Overall, I’m really happy how I handled it,” said Kvitova during her post-match virtual press conference. She missed last year’s Roland Garros due to an arm injury.  “It wasn’t really easy. I was broken a few times, and I really had to put something else in those important points and really still be there mentally and be strong in those.

“Really trying to play some rallies, as well. Tried to go for the net, not that often, but when I was there, it was a good point for me. So, I’m happy.”

Kvitova hit 32 winners that overcame her 36 unforced errors and broke Paolini’s serve six times in 20 opportunities. She outpointed her opponent 75-64.

The question of playing with few spectators at Roland Garros this year, usually bubbling with excitement, was asked of Kvitova. “For me to be here and playing, it’s okay. I didn’t really think about it. I know [there are] some spectators here, but I mean, of course you don’t really see them and hear them. It’s really like almost playing without [them], she said.

“I mean, that’s the experience what I have from New York, it’s really something totally okay and I don’t really think about it at all.”

Back to her best? Ostapenko pulls off shocking upset of Pliskova

Former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko shocked No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round. Since arriving in the French capital, not only has the 2017 titlist won on the terre battue for the first time since her Grand Slam triumph of three years gone by, she’s also played some of her best tennis in recent memory.

The former World No. 5 who is now ranked 43rd, Ostapenko needed just 69 minutes to dispose of the fourth-ranked Pliskova and she did it with a variety of tools, from drop shots to forehand winners. The 23-year-old Latvian struck 27 winners that more than offset her 19 unforced errors and she converted five of nine break points. Additionally, Ostapenko won 73 percent of her first-serve points and more than half of her return points. Meanwhile, Pliskova managed just nine winners and hit 25 unforced errors. Ostapenko outpointed Pliskova 67-46.

During her virtual press conference afterward, Ostapenko was asked to compare the current and past versions of herself. She said: “It’s hard to compare because that was three years ago and I was fearless. Nobody really knew me, but now players get to know me more. Obviously, they know me already (smiling). They know how I can play. They know how to play probably against me. So, I try to prepare very well for every match.”

When Ostapenko was asked her thoughts about inspiring a new generation of women’s players – and being inspired in return – she said: “I mean, when I saw [Osaka] winning, of course I also want to get back there on top and win another Slam. So, we kind [inspire] each other, the new generation, which is also I think good.”

After the match, Pliskova said: “I’m sure I could do much better. I know that she can be tough if she’s playing well, but I think everything started with me. I was definitely not playing great. I think maybe same level as the match before but of course she’s a much better player.”

Next, Ostapenko will face Spain’s Paula Badosa, who is into her first Grand Slam third round in her Roland Garros debut. The 87th-ranked Badosa advanced with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over 29th-seeded American Sloane Stephens by hitting 20 winners.

Three cheers for reaching the third round for the first time

Passer des coups

• Indeed, the kids are alright as 19-year-old French wild card Clara Burel backed up her late-night win over Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Kaja Juvan from Slovenia to reach her first Grand Slam third round in her Roland Garros debut.

“It’s been a crazy week so far. It’s still difficult to describe my feelings, but I guess it’s only happiness right now,” said Burel, quoted by RolandGarros.com.

“Yeah, a big revenge because she beat me in the final of the Youth Olympics back in 2018. This defeat really hurt. I’m really happy to have taken my revenge today.”

The former junior No. 1 will face Zhang Shuai of China, who reached the third round of the French Open for the second time in her career and first time in three years. She followed up her win over American Madison Keys with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Alizé Cornet of France after squandering four match points.

• American Danielle Collins ended the run of Danish teen Clara Tauson, 6-2, 6-3. Tauson, 17, a former junior No. 1 from Denmark, last week qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw, then upset No. 21 seed Jennifer Brady of the United States in the first round on Tuesday.

• Three years after a promising clay season – including a Stuttgart title – that was derailed by an ACL tear suffered in Nuremberg, Laura Siegemund has reached the third round at Roland Garros after beating fellow German Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. Next, she plays No. 13 seed Petra Martic from Croatia, who advanced with a 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 42 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

By the numbers

• With Novak Djokovic‘s 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 second-round win over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, the Serbian is tied for second place with Roger Federer for most career wins at Roland Garros with 70. In first is Rafael Nadal (95-2) followed by Djokovic (70-14), Federer (70-17), Guillermo Vilas (58-17) and Ivan Lendl (53-12).

It also marks the 15th consecutive year that Djokovic has reached the third round at Roland Garros, and Djokovic joins Federer as the only players in the. Open Era to win at least 70 matches at all four majors.

• In the five hours that it took to finish the Denis ShapovalovRoberto Carballes Baena tussle on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, which was the first match of the day on the second biggest show court at Roland Garros, a total of 29 other matches on Thursday’s order of play were completed. It was Carballes Baena’s first win over a Top 10 player, first career five-set win and it advanced him to his first Grand Slam third round. Next, Carballes Baena will face 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who reached the third round of the French Open for the fourth straight year with his 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over No. 102 Andrej Martin of Slovakia.

“It is a dream for me to win a match like this,” Carballes Baena said during an on-court interview after his well-earned. “I tried to be very solid and focused on my game. Shapovalov served very well, but I played a very good match. It was the first time I beat a Top 10 player, reached the third round of a Grand Slam, and the first time I won a fifth set.”

• Lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia, ranked 153rd, is into the third round, thanks to his 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Tennys Sandgren of the United States. Galan, 24, lost in the third round of qualifying last week to Henri Laaksonen. However, he made it into the main draw and has seized the opportunity. Plus, the money he’s earned thus far amounts to about 36 percent of his career – yes, CAREER – earnings. Coming into the French Open, Galan had earned $99,822 this season. Already, by reaching the third round, Galan is guaranteed a paycheck of $149,179. Next, the Colombian faces top seed Djokovic.

The kindness of competitors and peers

It’s always nice to be recognized by a community of your peers, especially when you’re retiring. That’s how 164th-ranked wild card Pauline Parmentier of France must be feeling after playing the final match of her career, a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, on Tuesday. On Thursday, fellow competitor Heather Watson of Great Britain posted on Twitter in appreciation of Parmentier:

Now it can be told

• Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan, ranked 159th, rallied from a set down to upset American teen prodigy Coco Gauff, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, in two hours and 11 minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu late Wednesday evening. The win advanced Trevisan to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. “I’m really happy, but I think I need more time to realize what happened tonight,” she said.

Trevisan spoke on the importance of her win, which was her second straight Top 100 victory: “I work every day to be here, to be in the third round of Grand Slam. It’s not easy to reach this result, but I wake up every morning to think about my dream, and today, it realized one of my dreams.

“Important thing today I came in the court without thinking I had to play with Coco Gauff, because everybody know that [she] is the most, the best young player in the world. 

“I play every point without thinking that Coco is better than me ranking, she has a lot of experience in this court than me.”

• Jelena Ostapenko was asked during her virtual press conference after defeating No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova to respond to a description of her given by tennis commentator Sam Smith, in which it was suggested that the Latvian plays like a Formula 1 racer drives, where she goes 100 miles per hour all the time without fear. She said: “Sometimes, of course, I have a lot of energy. So, I’m aggressive like playing aggressive in tennis and I’m very, like, how would you say, energetic. Sometimes, of course, I can drive a little bit faster, but, I mean, it just depends where and who is around.”

• Always a philosopher on and off the court, Grigor Dimitrov, 29, loves playing at Roland Garros no matter the conditions. “Honestly, I always like playing out here. For some reason I have always had – not to sound like an excuse – tough rounds to get over to that second week. In the second week, anything can happen. For me personally, I would love to get further in this tournament,” the No. 18 seed said after reaching the third round with a win on Thursday. Dimitrov came to Paris fresh off a quarterfinal result in Rome.

“Every year I come back with a positive mindset. This year is very different than any other, no doubt about it, but it’s the same for everyone.

“I’m just taking sort of one day at a time. I like that part of the situation, so to speak, that we kind of gotta grind it. That’s really what it is, like improvise a lot. I mean, the first week I have played only indoors, for example. This is the most I have spent outdoors.

“It’s kind of funny, but being on tour for so long, I still have so much to learn and I feel like I’m learning so much about myself in situations like that and conditions like this. I’m very thankful for the situation right now.”