2022 French Open: Top highlights

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2022 French Open: Top highlights originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The sliding and gliding on the French Open’s premier red clay courts always lead to impressive tennis.

Intentional or not, each year there are numerous jaw-dropping moments that leave you wondering if the tennis player is human or not. Whether it’s a shot between the legs or a massive upset, these iconic moments will have you rushing to your local tennis courts.

In 2021, Barbora Krejčíková of the Czech Republic stunned the tennis world by winning the French Open as an unseeded player. She also won the doubles event with partner Kateřina Siniaková.

Last year’s Paris crowds also witnessed Russia’s Daniil Medvedev execute a perfect tweener lob against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. He earned a well-deserved standing ovation for that trickshot.

Two weeks of clay court tennis are underway. Here’s a running list of the best highlight from each day of the 2022 French Open:

June 5: Rafael Nadal Defeats Casper Ruud to Win 14th French Open Title

It was evident the 36-year-old Spaniard was no rookie to the French Open clay. 

Nadal clinched his 14th French Open title and his 22nd overall Grand Slam title during Sunday’s match against Casper Ruud, who was seeking his first Grand Slam title. 

The Spaniard won three consecutive sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 to defeat Norway’s Ruud in an exciting array of matches.

The first set started as expected with Nadal rushing out with a fast start. The second set was a bit more of a battle, with Ruud motivated to redeem himself – it began in the Norwegian tennis star’s favor and continued to stay that way until Nadal found his energy again. And the third set was a walk in the park for the “King of Clay,” resulting in a title victory for Nadal.

June 3: Iga Swiatek Defeats Coco Gauff to Win Second French Open Title

Iga Swiatek’s dominant run continues.

The top-ranked player in the world defeated 18-year-old Coco Gauff in the French Open women's final 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday. Swiatek’s second French Open title extended her winning streak to 35 matches, the longest since Venus Williams’ 35 consecutive wins in 2000.

The 21-year-old Swiatek jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the first set against Gauff, who was attempting to become the youngest woman to win a Grand Slam since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004 at 17 years old. Gauff took a 2-0 advantage in the second set before Swiatek won five games in a row to push championship point.

Swiatek’s second Grand Slam title caps a dominant stretch in which she has won 56 of her last 58 sets, captured six consecutive titles and gone without a loss for 108 days.

June 3: Rafael Nadal hits an insane angle down set point in the first set

No. 5 Rafael Nadal was down a set point in the first set tiebreaker against No. 3 Alexander Zverev in Friday’s semifinal and whipped out a tremendous forehand angle passing shot.

Unfortunately, the match ended on a sad note. Nadal won 7-6, 6-6 Ret. when Zverev was forced to retire when he took a nasty fall while running for a forehand and landed on his ankle.

The 25-year-old was visibly in immense pain, screaming while grabbing his leg. When the medics arrived at Court Philippe-Chatrier, they escorted Zverev to the locker room via wheelchair and determined he was unable to continue the match.

Zverev made his way back to the court in crutches to shake Nadal's hand and received a massive standing ovation from the Paris crowd, who were soaking in the incredible match fully.

In the final, Nadal will face the winner of the semifinal match between No. 20 Marin Cilic and No. 8 Casper Ruud. He will be battling for his 14th French Open title and 22nd Grand Slam on Sunday.

The match will be played at 9 a.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

June 2: American Coco Gauff advances to the French Open final

American Coco Gauff was just graduating from high school a week ago and on Saturday, she will compete for her first Grand Slam championship.

The 18-year-old defeated Italy's Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday to become the youngest player to earn a spot in a Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova in 2004.

The Floridian will face Poland's No. 1 Iga Świątek, who is currently on a 34-match winning streak after defeating Russia's No. 20 Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1.

The match will be played on Saturday, June 4 at 9 a.m. ET on Peacock.

June 1: Marin Čilić upsets No. 7 Andrey Rublev and Iga Świątek earns 33rd consecutive win

Croatia’s Marin Čilić is headed to his first French Open semifinal after taking down No. 7 Andrey Rublev 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 [10-2].

The 33-year-old will face the winner of Casper Ruud and Holger Rune for a spot in Sunday’s final.

On the women’s side, Iga Świątek took down American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-2 to win her 33rd consecutive match.

Świątek, who turned 21-years-old yesterday, wrote on the camera after her win, “Getting old, but still fresh.”

The Pole faces No. 20 Daria Kasatkina in the semifinal.

May 31: Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev tops Carlos Alcaraz in quarterfinal clashes

The quarterfinal blockbuster between No. 5 Rafael Nadal and No. 1 Novak Djokovic did not disappoint as the Spaniard took the win 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 to book a spot in the semifinal.

Considered one of the best modern-day rivalries in men's tennis, the two competed in their 59th matchup over the span of 16 years.

In the other quarterfinal on Tuesday, No. 3 Alexander Zverev topped No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz, winning the match 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

Alcaraz, the 19-year-old from Spain, was a co-favorite to win the tournament with fellow countryman Rafael Nadal.

Nadal and Zverev will take the stage on Friday where they will fight for a spot in the final.

May 30: No. 1 Iga Swiatek drops first set of tournament

Unseeded Qinwen Zheng shocked the tennis world on Monday when she handed Iga Swiatek her first lost set of the tournament.

Zheng won the first set 7-6 after being down 3-0 and 5-2 in the tiebreaker but went on to lose the next two sets of the match 6-0, 6-2.

Swiatek, who has only dropped one other set in the past 32 consecutive matches she has won will face American Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinal.

May 29: Rafael Nadal defeats Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets

On Sunday, No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime gave French Open favorite No. 5 Rafael Nadal a run for his money.

The 21-year-old, whose coach is Nadal's uncle, rushed out with a strong first set, capturing it 6-3. As Nadal settled in, he confidently grabbed the next two sets 6-3, 6-2.

In the fourth set, Auger-Aliassime rallied to stay in the match and won it 6-3 but it wasn't enough to take the match. Nadal won the fifth set 6-3, winning an impressive 71% of second serve points.

Nadal will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster quarterfinal matchup.

May 28: Camila Giorgi upsets Aryna Sabalenka

A big upset happened during Saturday’s round of matches. Italian Camila Giorgi, who entered the tournament as the No. 28 seed, shocked No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the Belarusian who was once ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in singles.

Giorgi lost the first set 6-4 but bounced back in dominant fashion for the last two, winning them 6-1 and 6-0. She now moves on to the final 16 with a matchup against No. 20 Daria Kasatkina awaiting.

May 27: Rafael Nadal with a near perfect serving and Alex Zverev defeats Brandon Nakashima

No. 5 Rafael Nadal had a near-perfect start to the day with 87% of his points won on his first serve (40/45) against Botic van de Zandschulp.

Both Nadal and No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic stayed right on track to make it to the quarterfinals after both became victorious in their matches Friday.

In other news, 25-year-old Alex Zverev secured the win over Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5), and will be advancing to the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year in a row.

May 26: Hugo Gaston with a touch of class around the net post

French tennis player Hugo Gaston showed some extreme speed, touch and skill in his second round win against Argentina's Pedro Cachin 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

In a thrilling point, the lefty served out wide on the ad-court and followed it up with a drop shot behind Cachin, who ran it down with a remarkable one-handed angle when Gaston miraculously hit a down-the-line winner around the net post with a flick of the wrist.

The home crowd gave Gaston some love for that iconic shot with a great round of applause.

For those who are unfamiliar with the rules, a player is allowed to hit the ball around the net as long as the net is not touched by the person or racquet. The trick shot is incredibly rare to see as the shot is hard to execute.

May 25: Carlos Alcaraz hits remarkable winner in full stretch to save match

On Wednesday, No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz found himself in a hole down a match point in the fourth set to Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas but rallied to save the match in five sets.

The hotshot of the day came from Alcaraz in the fifth set when he was receiving down 3-1 and was pushed to a complete stretch on the backhand side but somehow scooped the ball up with a one-hander to hit a down the line winner. He completes the moment by raising his finger to the crowd telling him that he's No. 1. Alcaraz went on to win the match 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Going into the French Open, Alcaraz was a co-favorite to win the slam with fellow countryman and "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal.

Despite being one of the favorites to win the French Open, this is only Alcaraz's second French Open of his career, which places a great deal of pressure on the 19-year-old. One of the toughest obstacles for the teen these two weeks will be staying cool and consistent because he has proved has what it takes to beat the best in the sport.

May 24: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retires in front of home crowd

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was honored on Court Philippe-Chatrier for his retirement from tennis after his first-round loss to Casper Ruud 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6.

The 37-year-old was visibly emotional in the fourth set tiebreaker as his time in the sport was officially coming to an end. He was also noticeably in pain towards the end of the match, dealing with an upper arm injury that failed to subside.

During his post-match tribute, a montage was put together reflecting Tsonga's iconic career on tour along with some of the greatest in the sport, including Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, speaking on the impact the Frenchman has made in tennis.

Tsonga made a speech at the end expressing his gratitude and appreciation for his career and fans.

The athlete reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2012. He made it to the final of the Australian Open (2008), the semifinal of the French Open (2013, 2015), the semifinal of Wimbledon (2011, 2012) and the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open (2011, 2015, 2016).

May 23: Hometown hero Diane Parry

France’s Diane Parry lit up Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday as the 19-year-old defeated No. 2 seed and defending champion Barbora Krejčíková 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

No. 97 Parry’s lack of experience showed at the beginning of the match, winning only two of the first 18 points. As her nerves settled and Krejčíková’s fitness deteriorated, Parry was able to swoop in to win 12 of the last 15 games to earn the best win of her career.

Krejčíková had been kept away from competition with an elbow injury since February.

May 22: Magda Linette sends No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur packing in first round

Day one of 2022 French Open action had a shocking twist as Poland’s Magda Linette dispatched No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur from the draw 3-6, 7-6, 7-5. According to odds posted before the event started, Jabeur was No. 4 on the list of players to win the French Open at +1800.

While Jabeur was in charge of points most of the time with precise placement, Linette used her speed to run everything down. As the match progressed, Linette raised her aggression and the unforced errors accumulated for Jabeur, who finished with 47.

Another key stat was Linette's serving, winning 74% of her first-serve points and only allowing Jabeur to convert 44% of breakpoints.