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French Open Midterm Grades

Midway through the 2022 French Open, let’s take stock of the story lines.

We have the old, reliable standbys on the menu: Iga Swiatek, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal. We have the hot breakout special this year, Carlos Alcaraz. And we will be serving Coco Gauff. Or Coq au Gauff, as it were. Sadly, we’re all sold out of Krejcikova—popular last year—and Jabeur, a Tunisian specialty. (We blame the supply chain.) We also regret to report the removal of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga from the menu. Midway through the seven-course meal that is the 2022 French Open, we pause to mix metaphors and hand out midterm grades.

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) returns a shot from Sebastian Korda (USA) during their match on day six of the French Open at Stade Roland-Garros.

Can Carlos Alcaraz build on his breakout Madrid Open win with his first major title?


The favorites: For all the various and sundry upsets, they are of the secondary variety. Hurricane Iga still rages. The "top half trio" of Nadal, Djokovic, and Alcaraz continues apace as well.

Americennes: As we write this, no men remain. (Congrats if you had Mackie McDonald in your ghoul pool.) But there are five women: Coco Gauff, Madison Keys, resurgent Sloane Stephens, Jessica Pegula, and, not least, Amanda Anisimova, who nearly won this event three years ago, went through some personal friction and is now playing as well as ever.

Jil Teichman: The talented Swiss lefty undefeated here so far, outlasting Victoria Azarenka in one of the better matches of the tournament. Daniil Medvedev: What is Russian for “sandbag”? His protestations to the contrary, the second-seeded Russian can play on clay. Scandinavia: Ruud and Rune (and Ruusavuori) ….no, not a law firm to secure your Baltic Sea fishing and maritime rights. It’s three young ascending ATP players. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Frenchman plays his final match. A stellar career—top five showing; 18 titles—and never anything less than gentleman.

Caper Ruud: Him again. Yes, for reaching Week 2. But also for the abundance of grace he showed playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Ruud, 23, was handed the mic after the win and said, “I don’t want to talk about myself. This day is about Jo.”


Simona Halep: The former champ lost in round two. But how many people has she helped by her normalizing what happened to her on the court? “It was just a panic attack. It happened … I lost it. I couldn't focus. After the match, was pretty tough. But now I'm good. I'm recovered, and I will learn from this episode. Nothing like dangerous, in my opinion, but it happened. So it's good that now. I can smile.”

Canada: Denis Shapovalov and Bianca Andreescu go out early; Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez stay late.

Linda Noskova: Failed to close out Emma Raducanu, but what an arrival for the 17-year-old who qualified and will be a player to watch for years.

Ann Li: The young American was leading a set in round one before retiring. A disappointing retirement but still more indication she has real game.

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Taylor Townsend: Back after maternity leave, looked terrific both in singles and doubles.


Maria Bouzková: Czech tests positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw. More happily, she is now officially a Hoosier.

Lorenzo Musetti: For the second year in a row, the Italian shotmaker—bonus points for the one-hander—took a 2–0 set lead on a star. (Last year, Djokovic; this year, Tsitsipas.) For the second year in a row, he failed to close.


Women’s top-10 seeds: Swiatek has played her role to (near) perfection. But by Thursday, only two others (Badosa and Sabalenka) were in contention.

Andrei Rublev: Still alive in the draw. But, man, is he lucky he wasn’t booted after this:

Irina-Camilia Begu: Still alive in the draw. But, man, is she lucky she wasn’t booted after this.


Lack of media access: The mission creep has gone too far and gone on too long. Placing limits on the written press in particular has been spun as a “player-friendly” touch—like a sushi bar and courtesy cars—that benefits the competitors. It does not. It does not benefit the fans. It does not benefit the sport. It does a disservice to all.

Ons Jabeur: She handled defeat with great class and perspective. But the second favorite after Swiatek was out by midday on the first Sunday session. In addition to a deeply disappointing defeat, that’s a lot of time off between matches.

Dominic Thiem: One of the all-time nice guys. But it’s now been more than a year since his last win. Not tournament win. Match win. The return from the wrist injury has been a slog and has exacted a price on his confidence.

Garbiñe Muguruza: Never mind that she’s a former champ. She closed out 2021 with a title at the WTA Championships, mowing down all comers. This year? A sub-.500 season including a listless first-round defeat here.

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