If this year’s Australian Open proved that 30 is the new 20, Roland Garros, at least the women’s side of the draw, proved anything but that.
Unseeded 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia shocked the tennis world when she defeated No. 3 Simona Halep in the Women’s Singles final by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to take home her first grand slam title. Ostapenko’s young age contributed to the surprise many had at the result of the match, as she’s 16 years younger than this year’s Australian Open winner, Serena Williams. Furthermore, Ostapenko was an unseeded player, ranking only No. 47 in the world. The last time such an event happened at the French Open was Margaret Scriven’s victory back in 1933.
Ostapenko’s victory can perhaps be lended to the fact that the women’s draw was blown open due to Serena William’s absence, as she’s taken the rest of 2017 off due to her pregnancy, as well as No. 1 Angelique Kerber’s shocking first round loss at the tournament. However, these occurrences shouldn’t undercut Ostapenko’s performance, as she had to defeat top seeds like Halep and No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki en route to the title.
Ostapenko’s victory wasn’t the only major headline of the tournament, as Rafa Nadal’s triumph over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to win the French Open title for the 10th time was also significant, albeit more predictable. The Spaniard utterly dominated Wawrinka in the final, cruising to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over the Swiss. Nadal made history back in 2013 when he won Roland Garros for the eighth time to set the record for most titles won at a single grand slam. Nadal furthered his dominance in Paris with his 10th championship victory on Philippe-Chatrier Court, becoming the sole open era player to raise a trophy at the same major ten times, achieving a feat many have coined “La Decima.”
Nadal’s French Open “La Decima” was coupled with titles he took home at Monte Carlo and Barcelona this year, tournaments which he also won for the 10th time. Nadal’s Roland Garros victory also served as his 15th overall grand slam title, earning the claim of second place of all time, surpassing Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major titles. The only other man in the open era to win more grand slam titles than Nadal is his biggest rival, Roger Federer, with 18 titles to his name.
Nadal’s 10th Roland Garros victory was perhaps one of his most important, as it ended his three-year drought at majors, elevating back up to No. 2 in the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings.
Another notable highlight from this year’s tournament was the battle for the position of world number one on the women’s tour. With current No. 1 Angelique Kerber producing less than stellar results thus far in the 2017 season and the always dominant Serena Williams out of the game for the remainder of the season, No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 Simona Halep had their crack at the No. 1 ranking at Roland Garros. Coincidently, Pliskova and Halep squared off in the semi-finals. Had Pliskova won the match, she would’ve achieved the No. 1 ranking, but Halep took the victory with a scoreline of 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. A victory in the women’s final would have meant the No. 1 ranking for Halep, but as mentioned previously, she was defeated by Ostapenko instead, ensuring that Kerber would maintain the top ranking.
Ranking shifts were abound on the men’s side of the draw as well. After winning the tournament last year, current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost in the quarterfinals to No. 6 Dominic Thiem, causing his ranking to drop to No. 4, the first time he’s been ranked outside the top two since March 2011. Djokovic’s early loss helped propel Nadal back up to No. 2 in the rankings, with Murray remaining as world No. 1 and Wawrinka at No. 3.
For the past decade, French players have struggled to make a dent at their home major, but this year, three female French players left their mark at the tournament. With Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic reaching the quarterfinals and Alizé Cornet reaching the round of 16, French fans were more pleased than usual at this year’s Roland Garros.
With a young, first time grand slam winner in Ostapenko and Nadal’s return as a top contender in grand slams, tennis fans can’t help but wonder what 2017’s last two majors, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, have in store.