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  • Serena Williams is back, while Rafael Nadal is dominant despite not having his best stuff.
By Jon Wertheim
June 02, 2018

We've had nine lucky losers, and 6-10 John Isner. We’ve had scant Major upsets and 5-7 Diego Schwartzman. Rafael Nadal is on track for French Open number 11. But maybe most significantly, Serena Williams—playing herself into contention in real time—is suddenly a candidate for Major title No. 24.

Herewith, your Midterm Grades from the 2018 French Open...


Serena Williams

Maternity leave is over. 

Rafael Nadal

How good is he? He’s not playing his absolute best. And yet he’s not just winning; he’s making his opponents go crying to mommy.

Mailbag: Summarizing the First Few Days of the French a Poem

Reigning WTA Majors winners

Caroline Wozniacki is not just on a 10-match Major win streak but she’s crushing it, giving up four games in her last four sets. Sloane Stephens is in the fourth round here for the fifth time. Garbine Muguruza might well this for a second time.

Maria Sharapova

Suddenly she’s back, playing like someone who’s won this event twice before. Her 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Pliskova wasn't just a win, it was a statement. Serena’s next.

Novak Djokovic

Through week one, he’s done a convincing impersonation of….Novak Djokovic.

Al Italia

For the first time in four decades, a pair of Italian men, Fabio Fognini and Marco Cecchinato reach week two. And arrivederci, Francesca Schaivone.

The Catsuit


Jared Donaldson

Young American comes a few points from beating Dimitrov and, with that, becoming the first American in more than a decade to beat a top player at Roland Garros. He lost 10-8 in the fifth set, but must walk with confidence knowing he came close.

Marco Trungelitti

With grandma in the backseat, Truckstop Trungelitti raced from Bracelona to Paris to make the main draw, the luckiest of luckiest losers. He then beat Bernie Tomic but then lost a winnable match against anther Marco, Cecchinato.

Greeks bearing gifts

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari are both eliminated, but both show off their top ten potential.


Stan Wawrinka

The 2015 champ continues to try and play, though his movement is compromised by a knee injury.

Jo Konta

Lost her first match, but she did win the press conference.

Grand Slam withdrawal rules

Generally a success, this incentivizing players to withdraw rather compete in a compromised state. But fining those who don't meet the subjective standard of “full effort” is problematic.


Jelena Ostapenko

Last year’s champ was sent packing in her first match, dispatched by little-known Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova.(Something less than gracious in defeat she said, "in general I played maybe like 20 percent of what I can play.”) Bonus points, though for sticking around a few days to fulfill her commitment to play doubles.


No. 4 seeds

Grigor Dimitrov loses in round three (in straight sets) to Fernando Verdasco, and is still sub-.500 for his career at Roland Garros. Elina Svitolina’s woes in the Majors continues, as she falls to Buzarnescu in round three.

Damir Dzumhur Accidentally Collides With Ball Kid During French Open Match

Jack Sock

Falls to 5-11 in this dismal year after first round defeat to lucky loser Jurgen Zopp. Compounds matters by telling an official. “You're atrociousI'm a player, you wouldn't be here if it weren't for me.” This is known as hitting rock bottom and starting to dig.

Technology fails

Picnic tables and beanbags and landscaping touches are nice. But when you’re a global sporting event and app is buggy….that’s a much greater issue to address.

Cheating in college tennis

It’s an open secret. It’s getting worse. And, absent coaches with the conviction to sanction their players, maybe we have to lean on technology to do its thing. You know how Joe Rogan busted Carlos Mencia for joke stealing, or Bryan Colangelo now has much to answer for? When your hooking can go viral, maybe you twice about ethical lapses.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)