Tennis star Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal pulled out of the London Olympics on Thursday due to injury.

Alexander Zverev is the second seed at Roland Garros after winning the Madrid Masters and losing to Rafael Nadal in the final in Rome (AFP Photo/Filippo MONTEFORTE)
Alexander Zverev is the second seed at Roland Garros after winning the Madrid Masters and losing to Rafael Nadal in the final in Rome
Alexander Zverev is the second seed at Roland Garros after winning the Madrid Masters and losing to Rafael Nadal in the final in Rome (AFP Photo/Filippo MONTEFORTE)
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Denis Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal in Rome the week after reaching the Madrid semi-finals (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)
Denis Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal in Rome the week after reaching the Madrid semi-finals
Denis Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal in Rome the week after reaching the Madrid semi-finals (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)
During an injury-plagued spell that ran from November to March, Rafael Nadal withdrew from six successive tournaments. According to the doom-mongers, his very future as a grand slam contender stood in doubt. Yet over the last six weeks, Nadal has proved that he is not just the king of clay, but the king of comebacks, too. Once Nadal’s feet had touched the red dirt in Monte Carlo, he began a winning streak that has continued all the way to Roland Garros – with the exception of a single reverse at the hands of Dominic Thiem in Madrid. His unbroken run of 50 straight sets on clay set a new world record. All of which begs two intriguing questions. Is Nadal playing better than ever? Or is the competition weaker than before? For answers, the Telegraph turned to Game Insight Group, the cutting-edge tennis statisticians based in Melbourne. And after consultation with their analysts – Graeme Spence, Stephanie Kovalchik and Machar Reid – we can confirm that, as so often, the explanation is a little bit of both. Let’s deal with the competition first. According to Elo ratings (which are different to the ATP’s rankings because they focus on who you are playing, not where or when), Nadal faced a lower standard of opponent in 2017 and 2018 than he had in previous seasons. Rafael Nadal's key numbers in Paris Much of this comes down to injuries and form slumps among tennis’s established stars, especially the ‘Big Four’. Nadal hasn’t played Andy Murray for 25 months, and faced Novak Djokovic only once last year – the lowest seasonal incidence of this high-frequency rivalry since 2006. Admittedly, the great Nadal-Federer feud enjoyed a revival. There were four meetings in 2017, all of which Federer won. But none of them was on clay, as Federer has effectively retired from that surface. Turning to Nadal’s actual performances, the hiring of coach Carlos Moya – himself a former world No 1 – at the end of 2016 proved to be a masterstroke. Moya recognised that Nadal’s power and intensity allowed him to dominate most opponents once the rally had started, but that he was less effective than many of his peers on the two most pivotal shots: the serve and the return. Moya encouraged his old friend, who is not a gambler by nature, to take more risks with his serve. Analysis of data from clay-court matches only shows how the body serve – once the safe option that Nadal used more often than not – has receded so dramatically that he now hits it only one time in 10. Meanwhile the most difficult and penetrative serve – the one which flies down the ‘T’ – has become his favourite this season, used on more than 40 per cent of points. Nadal has had great success under the guidance of Carlos Moya Credit: Getty images And what of the return? Nadal has always stood a long way back when receiving, but under Moya’s guidance he has moved even closer to the line judges. By the time the ball reaches him, it has slowed down to the point where he can take a full-blooded swing, imparting his usual heavy topspin. This is the opposite approach to the one pursued by Federer, notably in his SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), which sees him dart forward to block the serve back almost as soon as it has bounced. Players serving to Nadal have almost a second longer to prepare for their second shot, because the ball travels perhaps 30 feet further in either direction. Even so, dealing with his deep, dipping, kicking return is still nightmarishly difficult. Especially as Nadal’s return depth has vastly improved this year, with a career-high figure of 85 per cent of balls landing beyond the service box. The ATP analyst Craig O’Shannessy has recommended bold experimentation as the best response. “Rafa backs up so far when he’s receiving serve he’s halfway to Moscow,” O’Shannessy said this week. “So an underarm serve? Why not? I’m not advocating a player continually doing it, but you need an agent of disruption. Perhaps a slow serve-and-volley, more drop shots. Do something radical.” Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots The challenge is all the greater because Nadal is an outlier, tactically speaking, whose game has little in common with anyone else’s. The only satisfactory way to prepare for facing Nadal is… by facing Nadal. GIG’s analysis suggests that Nadal deploys less variety of shot than either Federer or Djokovic, preferring to concentrate ruthlessly on his strengths. One particular type of angled forehand, hit short and wide with heavy spin into the right-hander’s backhand, represents around 20 per cent of his total strokes off that wing: an unusually high percentage for a single option. Historically, the figures show that Nadal’s clay-court dominance has grown throughout his career, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2015 and 2016. Since that period of relative uncertainty, when he admitted that “I am playing with too much nerves”, he has found his mojo again. Yet there is one chink of light for the rest of the field. Under pressure in Madrid against Thiem, Nadal reverted to old patterns on both his serve (more conservative) and his return (less depth), as he slipped to a 7-5, 6-3 defeat. This supported the theory, expressed by the ever-insightful Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander on Tuesday, that Nadal can still be knocked off his stride by the stars of the new generation. “When he plays well, Rafa is better now [than when he was younger],” said Wilander. “He and Roger, they’re on every shot. But mentally I don’t think they believe they are better players now, and I don’t think they are as confident as they were. Rafa is more aware of the young players, he is afraid of them differently than before.” If Wilander is right, then Nadal might encounter a few more anxious moments over the next fortnight. Should he slip back into old habits, and fail to apply his recent upgrades, this tournament might not be a foregone conclusion after all.
Rebooted Rafael Nadal remains master of clay - but there is a glimmer of hope for his rivals
During an injury-plagued spell that ran from November to March, Rafael Nadal withdrew from six successive tournaments. According to the doom-mongers, his very future as a grand slam contender stood in doubt. Yet over the last six weeks, Nadal has proved that he is not just the king of clay, but the king of comebacks, too. Once Nadal’s feet had touched the red dirt in Monte Carlo, he began a winning streak that has continued all the way to Roland Garros – with the exception of a single reverse at the hands of Dominic Thiem in Madrid. His unbroken run of 50 straight sets on clay set a new world record. All of which begs two intriguing questions. Is Nadal playing better than ever? Or is the competition weaker than before? For answers, the Telegraph turned to Game Insight Group, the cutting-edge tennis statisticians based in Melbourne. And after consultation with their analysts – Graeme Spence, Stephanie Kovalchik and Machar Reid – we can confirm that, as so often, the explanation is a little bit of both. Let’s deal with the competition first. According to Elo ratings (which are different to the ATP’s rankings because they focus on who you are playing, not where or when), Nadal faced a lower standard of opponent in 2017 and 2018 than he had in previous seasons. Rafael Nadal's key numbers in Paris Much of this comes down to injuries and form slumps among tennis’s established stars, especially the ‘Big Four’. Nadal hasn’t played Andy Murray for 25 months, and faced Novak Djokovic only once last year – the lowest seasonal incidence of this high-frequency rivalry since 2006. Admittedly, the great Nadal-Federer feud enjoyed a revival. There were four meetings in 2017, all of which Federer won. But none of them was on clay, as Federer has effectively retired from that surface. Turning to Nadal’s actual performances, the hiring of coach Carlos Moya – himself a former world No 1 – at the end of 2016 proved to be a masterstroke. Moya recognised that Nadal’s power and intensity allowed him to dominate most opponents once the rally had started, but that he was less effective than many of his peers on the two most pivotal shots: the serve and the return. Moya encouraged his old friend, who is not a gambler by nature, to take more risks with his serve. Analysis of data from clay-court matches only shows how the body serve – once the safe option that Nadal used more often than not – has receded so dramatically that he now hits it only one time in 10. Meanwhile the most difficult and penetrative serve – the one which flies down the ‘T’ – has become his favourite this season, used on more than 40 per cent of points. Nadal has had great success under the guidance of Carlos Moya Credit: Getty images And what of the return? Nadal has always stood a long way back when receiving, but under Moya’s guidance he has moved even closer to the line judges. By the time the ball reaches him, it has slowed down to the point where he can take a full-blooded swing, imparting his usual heavy topspin. This is the opposite approach to the one pursued by Federer, notably in his SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), which sees him dart forward to block the serve back almost as soon as it has bounced. Players serving to Nadal have almost a second longer to prepare for their second shot, because the ball travels perhaps 30 feet further in either direction. Even so, dealing with his deep, dipping, kicking return is still nightmarishly difficult. Especially as Nadal’s return depth has vastly improved this year, with a career-high figure of 85 per cent of balls landing beyond the service box. The ATP analyst Craig O’Shannessy has recommended bold experimentation as the best response. “Rafa backs up so far when he’s receiving serve he’s halfway to Moscow,” O’Shannessy said this week. “So an underarm serve? Why not? I’m not advocating a player continually doing it, but you need an agent of disruption. Perhaps a slow serve-and-volley, more drop shots. Do something radical.” Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots The challenge is all the greater because Nadal is an outlier, tactically speaking, whose game has little in common with anyone else’s. The only satisfactory way to prepare for facing Nadal is… by facing Nadal. GIG’s analysis suggests that Nadal deploys less variety of shot than either Federer or Djokovic, preferring to concentrate ruthlessly on his strengths. One particular type of angled forehand, hit short and wide with heavy spin into the right-hander’s backhand, represents around 20 per cent of his total strokes off that wing: an unusually high percentage for a single option. Historically, the figures show that Nadal’s clay-court dominance has grown throughout his career, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2015 and 2016. Since that period of relative uncertainty, when he admitted that “I am playing with too much nerves”, he has found his mojo again. Yet there is one chink of light for the rest of the field. Under pressure in Madrid against Thiem, Nadal reverted to old patterns on both his serve (more conservative) and his return (less depth), as he slipped to a 7-5, 6-3 defeat. This supported the theory, expressed by the ever-insightful Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander on Tuesday, that Nadal can still be knocked off his stride by the stars of the new generation. “When he plays well, Rafa is better now [than when he was younger],” said Wilander. “He and Roger, they’re on every shot. But mentally I don’t think they believe they are better players now, and I don’t think they are as confident as they were. Rafa is more aware of the young players, he is afraid of them differently than before.” If Wilander is right, then Nadal might encounter a few more anxious moments over the next fortnight. Should he slip back into old habits, and fail to apply his recent upgrades, this tournament might not be a foregone conclusion after all.
During an injury-plagued spell that ran from November to March, Rafael Nadal withdrew from six successive tournaments. According to the doom-mongers, his very future as a grand slam contender stood in doubt. Yet over the last six weeks, Nadal has proved that he is not just the king of clay, but the king of comebacks, too. Once Nadal’s feet had touched the red dirt in Monte Carlo, he began a winning streak that has continued all the way to Roland Garros – with the exception of a single reverse at the hands of Dominic Thiem in Madrid. His unbroken run of 50 straight sets on clay set a new world record. All of which begs two intriguing questions. Is Nadal playing better than ever? Or is the competition weaker than before? For answers, the Telegraph turned to Game Insight Group, the cutting-edge tennis statisticians based in Melbourne. And after consultation with their analysts – Graeme Spence, Stephanie Kovalchik and Machar Reid – we can confirm that, as so often, the explanation is a little bit of both. Let’s deal with the competition first. According to Elo ratings (which are different to the ATP’s rankings because they focus on who you are playing, not where or when), Nadal faced a lower standard of opponent in 2017 and 2018 than he had in previous seasons. Rafael Nadal's key numbers in Paris Much of this comes down to injuries and form slumps among tennis’s established stars, especially the ‘Big Four’. Nadal hasn’t played Andy Murray for 25 months, and faced Novak Djokovic only once last year – the lowest seasonal incidence of this high-frequency rivalry since 2006. Admittedly, the great Nadal-Federer feud enjoyed a revival. There were four meetings in 2017, all of which Federer won. But none of them was on clay, as Federer has effectively retired from that surface. Turning to Nadal’s actual performances, the hiring of coach Carlos Moya – himself a former world No 1 – at the end of 2016 proved to be a masterstroke. Moya recognised that Nadal’s power and intensity allowed him to dominate most opponents once the rally had started, but that he was less effective than many of his peers on the two most pivotal shots: the serve and the return. Moya encouraged his old friend, who is not a gambler by nature, to take more risks with his serve. Analysis of data from clay-court matches only shows how the body serve – once the safe option that Nadal used more often than not – has receded so dramatically that he now hits it only one time in 10. Meanwhile the most difficult and penetrative serve – the one which flies down the ‘T’ – has become his favourite this season, used on more than 40 per cent of points. Nadal has had great success under the guidance of Carlos Moya Credit: Getty images And what of the return? Nadal has always stood a long way back when receiving, but under Moya’s guidance he has moved even closer to the line judges. By the time the ball reaches him, it has slowed down to the point where he can take a full-blooded swing, imparting his usual heavy topspin. This is the opposite approach to the one pursued by Federer, notably in his SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), which sees him dart forward to block the serve back almost as soon as it has bounced. Players serving to Nadal have almost a second longer to prepare for their second shot, because the ball travels perhaps 30 feet further in either direction. Even so, dealing with his deep, dipping, kicking return is still nightmarishly difficult. Especially as Nadal’s return depth has vastly improved this year, with a career-high figure of 85 per cent of balls landing beyond the service box. The ATP analyst Craig O’Shannessy has recommended bold experimentation as the best response. “Rafa backs up so far when he’s receiving serve he’s halfway to Moscow,” O’Shannessy said this week. “So an underarm serve? Why not? I’m not advocating a player continually doing it, but you need an agent of disruption. Perhaps a slow serve-and-volley, more drop shots. Do something radical.” Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots The challenge is all the greater because Nadal is an outlier, tactically speaking, whose game has little in common with anyone else’s. The only satisfactory way to prepare for facing Nadal is… by facing Nadal. GIG’s analysis suggests that Nadal deploys less variety of shot than either Federer or Djokovic, preferring to concentrate ruthlessly on his strengths. One particular type of angled forehand, hit short and wide with heavy spin into the right-hander’s backhand, represents around 20 per cent of his total strokes off that wing: an unusually high percentage for a single option. Historically, the figures show that Nadal’s clay-court dominance has grown throughout his career, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2015 and 2016. Since that period of relative uncertainty, when he admitted that “I am playing with too much nerves”, he has found his mojo again. Yet there is one chink of light for the rest of the field. Under pressure in Madrid against Thiem, Nadal reverted to old patterns on both his serve (more conservative) and his return (less depth), as he slipped to a 7-5, 6-3 defeat. This supported the theory, expressed by the ever-insightful Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander on Tuesday, that Nadal can still be knocked off his stride by the stars of the new generation. “When he plays well, Rafa is better now [than when he was younger],” said Wilander. “He and Roger, they’re on every shot. But mentally I don’t think they believe they are better players now, and I don’t think they are as confident as they were. Rafa is more aware of the young players, he is afraid of them differently than before.” If Wilander is right, then Nadal might encounter a few more anxious moments over the next fortnight. Should he slip back into old habits, and fail to apply his recent upgrades, this tournament might not be a foregone conclusion after all.
Rebooted Rafael Nadal remains master of clay - but there is a glimmer of hope for his rivals
During an injury-plagued spell that ran from November to March, Rafael Nadal withdrew from six successive tournaments. According to the doom-mongers, his very future as a grand slam contender stood in doubt. Yet over the last six weeks, Nadal has proved that he is not just the king of clay, but the king of comebacks, too. Once Nadal’s feet had touched the red dirt in Monte Carlo, he began a winning streak that has continued all the way to Roland Garros – with the exception of a single reverse at the hands of Dominic Thiem in Madrid. His unbroken run of 50 straight sets on clay set a new world record. All of which begs two intriguing questions. Is Nadal playing better than ever? Or is the competition weaker than before? For answers, the Telegraph turned to Game Insight Group, the cutting-edge tennis statisticians based in Melbourne. And after consultation with their analysts – Graeme Spence, Stephanie Kovalchik and Machar Reid – we can confirm that, as so often, the explanation is a little bit of both. Let’s deal with the competition first. According to Elo ratings (which are different to the ATP’s rankings because they focus on who you are playing, not where or when), Nadal faced a lower standard of opponent in 2017 and 2018 than he had in previous seasons. Rafael Nadal's key numbers in Paris Much of this comes down to injuries and form slumps among tennis’s established stars, especially the ‘Big Four’. Nadal hasn’t played Andy Murray for 25 months, and faced Novak Djokovic only once last year – the lowest seasonal incidence of this high-frequency rivalry since 2006. Admittedly, the great Nadal-Federer feud enjoyed a revival. There were four meetings in 2017, all of which Federer won. But none of them was on clay, as Federer has effectively retired from that surface. Turning to Nadal’s actual performances, the hiring of coach Carlos Moya – himself a former world No 1 – at the end of 2016 proved to be a masterstroke. Moya recognised that Nadal’s power and intensity allowed him to dominate most opponents once the rally had started, but that he was less effective than many of his peers on the two most pivotal shots: the serve and the return. Moya encouraged his old friend, who is not a gambler by nature, to take more risks with his serve. Analysis of data from clay-court matches only shows how the body serve – once the safe option that Nadal used more often than not – has receded so dramatically that he now hits it only one time in 10. Meanwhile the most difficult and penetrative serve – the one which flies down the ‘T’ – has become his favourite this season, used on more than 40 per cent of points. Nadal has had great success under the guidance of Carlos Moya Credit: Getty images And what of the return? Nadal has always stood a long way back when receiving, but under Moya’s guidance he has moved even closer to the line judges. By the time the ball reaches him, it has slowed down to the point where he can take a full-blooded swing, imparting his usual heavy topspin. This is the opposite approach to the one pursued by Federer, notably in his SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), which sees him dart forward to block the serve back almost as soon as it has bounced. Players serving to Nadal have almost a second longer to prepare for their second shot, because the ball travels perhaps 30 feet further in either direction. Even so, dealing with his deep, dipping, kicking return is still nightmarishly difficult. Especially as Nadal’s return depth has vastly improved this year, with a career-high figure of 85 per cent of balls landing beyond the service box. The ATP analyst Craig O’Shannessy has recommended bold experimentation as the best response. “Rafa backs up so far when he’s receiving serve he’s halfway to Moscow,” O’Shannessy said this week. “So an underarm serve? Why not? I’m not advocating a player continually doing it, but you need an agent of disruption. Perhaps a slow serve-and-volley, more drop shots. Do something radical.” Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots The challenge is all the greater because Nadal is an outlier, tactically speaking, whose game has little in common with anyone else’s. The only satisfactory way to prepare for facing Nadal is… by facing Nadal. GIG’s analysis suggests that Nadal deploys less variety of shot than either Federer or Djokovic, preferring to concentrate ruthlessly on his strengths. One particular type of angled forehand, hit short and wide with heavy spin into the right-hander’s backhand, represents around 20 per cent of his total strokes off that wing: an unusually high percentage for a single option. Historically, the figures show that Nadal’s clay-court dominance has grown throughout his career, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2015 and 2016. Since that period of relative uncertainty, when he admitted that “I am playing with too much nerves”, he has found his mojo again. Yet there is one chink of light for the rest of the field. Under pressure in Madrid against Thiem, Nadal reverted to old patterns on both his serve (more conservative) and his return (less depth), as he slipped to a 7-5, 6-3 defeat. This supported the theory, expressed by the ever-insightful Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander on Tuesday, that Nadal can still be knocked off his stride by the stars of the new generation. “When he plays well, Rafa is better now [than when he was younger],” said Wilander. “He and Roger, they’re on every shot. But mentally I don’t think they believe they are better players now, and I don’t think they are as confident as they were. Rafa is more aware of the young players, he is afraid of them differently than before.” If Wilander is right, then Nadal might encounter a few more anxious moments over the next fortnight. Should he slip back into old habits, and fail to apply his recent upgrades, this tournament might not be a foregone conclusion after all.
Tough challenge: Alexander Dolgopolov faces Rafael Nadal in the first round in Paris (AFP Photo/TIZIANA FABI)
Tough challenge: Alexander Dolgopolov faces Rafael Nadal in the first round in Paris
Tough challenge: Alexander Dolgopolov faces Rafael Nadal in the first round in Paris (AFP Photo/TIZIANA FABI)
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
How to pick a French Open women’s champion - including our bold prediction
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
How to pick a French Open women’s champion - including our bold prediction
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
How to pick a French Open women’s champion - including our bold prediction
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
How to pick a French Open women’s champion - including our bold prediction
For a second year running, the women’s field at the French Open remains wide open. Jelena Ostapenko came out of nowhere to win last year’s Roland Garros, but what are the chances of another unknown and unseeded player taking Paris by storm? We look back on the last 10 years of the major, to find out if we can glean any information as to who win capture the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight and boldly make our outright prediction for the title from the evidence gathered. We will look at age, ranking, country and form over the past decade to ascertain who is primed to win the second grand slam of the year. Age At 20 years and two days old when she won in Paris, Ostapenko became the youngest first-time grand slam champion since 2004 when Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open at 19 years, two months. In contrast, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was the second oldest first-time grand slam winner at 29 years, 11 months and 14 days. In the last 10 years, only one player has won the title in Paris being 30 or older, unsurprisingly that of Serena Williams. Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first. And was 33 when she became only the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles in 2015. Maria Sharapova, who heads into this year’s major in good touch, was 25 and 27 at the time of her triumphs in 2012 and 2014. Average age of Paris winner: 25 years 8 months Francesca Schiavone was 29 years old when she won Roland Garros in 2010 Credit: AFP Ranking The previously unheralded Ostapenko was the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933 when her fearless style of play shocked Simona Halep and the rest of the tennis world in last year’s final. Previously to Ostapenko’s success, the lowest seeded player to win in Paris over the last 10 years was the 17th ranked Schiavone. French Open women's winners of last 10 years Serena Williams’ two titles came when she was top seed, while both Sharapova in 2012 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008 were second seeds for their successes. Lucky number seven lived up to his name for Sharapova when she won her second Roland Garros and for Kuznetsova back in 2009. Average age of ranking: Nine. Although if you take out Ostapenko’s ranking the mean would be five. Left/right hander While left-hander Rafael Nadal dominates the Roland Garros clay in the men’s draw, you have to go as far back as 1992 for the last leftie to win the women’s title. Not since Monica Seles’ blockbuster 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 win over Steffi Graf has a left-hander enjoyed success on the red stuff. It means lefties Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova and Kristyna Pliskova are all statistically unlikely to stop the wave of dominance from the right-handers. Petra Kvitova would become the first left-hander to win the French Open since 1992 if she wins the 2018 edition Credit: Getty Images Country With Ostapenko our point of reference again, the French Open in recent years has produced champions for the first time in their homeland’s history. Not only does Latvia now have a grand slam champion to their name, but Schiavone was the first Italian woman to win a single’s major and Lia Na the first Asian and Chinese grand slam champion back in 2011. Of the current top 20 players, only three countries are yet to boast a women’s major winner. They are Ukraine, Holland and Slovakia. Form It’s always preferable to have a decent run of form behind you heading into a slam. For all bar one of the last 10 champions in Paris, they have all reached at least the semi-finals of one clay-court warm-up event. Schiavone had been in patchy form on the red stuff before her 2010 victory. The Italian was a first-round loser in Stuttgart, went one round further in Rome and reached the fourth of the Madrid Open. Ostapenko won the Charleston Open last spring, while solid runs in Rome assisted Garbine Muguruza, Li Na and Kuznetsova’s charges in Paris. While Sharapova won two warm-up tournaments in Rome and Stuttgart in 2012, Serena Williams went one better the following year to win a hat-trick of titles and then wasn’t fatigued in Paris as she clinched a then 16th grand slam by dropping just one set and 28 games. 2018 Clay court season | Who has won what? Prediction With all of the above categories considered, our pick for this year’s French Open is, drum roll please…Elina Svitolina. At just 23-years-old, she is slightly younger than the average winner of the last 10 years, although four past champions have been the same age as the right-hander (of course) or younger. A world ranking of four puts Svitolina slightly higher up the chain than the average winner, but taking Ostapenko’s lowly ranking out of the equation, puts her right in the mix. Born in Odessa, the Ukraine has not yet produced a women’s champion since it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Another box that could be potentially ticked. Elina Svitolina is our tip to win this year's French Open Credit: Getty Images Svitolina, finally, heads to Paris on the back of winning the Italian Open last weekend – her third WTA title of the year. While she has yet to move beyond the quarter-finals of a major, reaching the last eight in Paris twice in the last three years, she has achieved great things at Roland Garros before having won the girls' title as a 15-year-old. Watch this space...
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of a Roland Garros clay court Credit: telegraph What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of a Roland Garros clay court Credit: telegraph What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of a Roland Garros clay court Credit: telegraph What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of a Roland Garros clay court Credit: telegraph What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
What makes clay courts so different and difficult to master? French Open mysteries explained
What is a clay court made of? On Sunday, the French Open - the world’s most famous clay-court tennis event - gets under way in Paris. And yet despite the tournament being synonymous with clay, there is no actual clay in the courts at Roland Garros. This is typical of pretty much all red clay courts. Instead of clay, the top layer of the French Open courts is a tiny smattering - one to two millimetres - of ground red brick. It is this that gives the courts their traditional brown-ish hue. Beneath that are four additional layers, starting with six to seven centimetres of crushed white limestone; then seven to eight centimetres of coal residue - known as clinker; then 30 centimetres of crushed gravel; and finally a base level of 35 centimetres of stones. The ground red brick dates back to the 19th century and is actually a British invention. To compensate for grass courts in the south of France drying out, the British player William Renshaw came up with the clever idea of applying a layer of red crushed brick over the grass, which he made by grinding down clay pots from a nearby town. The make-up of the French Open clay courts What’s the effect of this? The French Open is known for having a less frantic pace of play than the other three grand slams. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the ball bounces more slowly on clay than on other surfaces. This happens because the ground brick layer of the court is rough, and so creates more friction than rubberised hard courts or grass. This has the effect of dragging the ball back slightly and it losing more pace on contact. On a smoother surface like grass for instance, there is less friction and so the ball meets less resistance on contact. The second main reason for clay courts playing relatively slowly is that the ball bounces higher than on other surfaces, giving players more time to retrieve the ball and extend the rally. The hardness of the limestone layer gets the ball bouncing high on a clay court Credit: AFP The higher bounce is a result of the hardness of the court, with the limestone layer just below the ground brick actually harder than grass and hard-court bases. Because the brick layer is so thin (just 1-2 millimeters thick) it is this limestone layer that the ball is effectively bouncing off. And limestone is extremely hard; it has been used as a building material for centuries, and is the key ingredient in cement. How does this affect the tennis? If the grass-court tennis of Wimbledon can resemble a pinball machine, clay-court tennis is more like a game of chess. The slower courts make for a less serve-dominated spectacle and a more methodical style of play, typically with longer rallies. Since the start of 2017 - according to stats from the ATP World Tour - men’s matches at the French Open have contained on average just 7.2 aces per match. This is way down on the 11.7 average at Wimbledon, and the 11.3 average at the hard-court grand slams (the US Open and Australian Open). Consequently there are more breaks of serve at Roland Garros, with 12.4 per cent of games going against the server at the French Open compared with just 8 per cent at Wimbledon and 11.4 per cent at the hard-court slams. Aces per men's match | Since start of 2017 Percentage of games going against the server | Since start of 2017 Fewer aces and not as many short points make for more drawn-out matches - with those at Roland Garros 10 minutes longer on average than those at Wimbledon (146 minutes compared with 136 minutes). Over a tournament the longer, more intense rallies test a player’s physical and mental conditioning. British journeyman Marcus Willis told Telegraph Sport: “Physically you have to move harder to get around a clay court. It's extremely tough on your legs, and on your lungs. “But it’s the groin that takes the most punishment because you’re sliding and it’s very tough on the legs.” Britain’s No 5 Jay Clarke added: “Clay is tiring from a cardio perspective because rallies are longer and you cover a lot more distance in the points with all the angles and drop shots. “You start a bit further back to receive serve and the rallies are longer so your run more.” What then are the key skills needed to master the clay? When teaching youngsters to play on clay for the first time, there are four main areas that the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) focuses on. Martin Weston, the LTA's National and Regional Pathway Manager, leads Britain’s junior training camps and explains: “The number one thing we teach the youngsters is the importance of footwork. On day one we tell them that footwork is paramount because the surface is loose under their feet so it feels different and uncomfortable. “If you don’t have a stable platform to hit from it’s very difficult to manoeuvre and control the ball. “Only once you've mastered the basic footwork can you attempt the slide, which is one of the key ingredients of playing on a clay court. “Allied to footwork is learning to move backwards. Because of the hardness of the courts, players are hitting the ball with a lot of topspin to get the ball as high as possible. Learning to slide is key to mastering the clay Credit: Getty Images “That means you have to move back and that’s something you won’t do on a hard court or indoor court where it’s more about moving laterally. “Hitting the ball with more ‘flight’ as we call it is also key. This really means hitting the ball higher over the net and keeping your opponent off the court because the ball will slow down once it hits the dust of the clay. It will dig in and kick up and if you don’t push your opponent wide and deep then the ball sits up and you’re in real trouble. “So you have to think really carefully about the trajectory you hit to make sure the ball is kicking up off the court to an awkward height for your opponent. “Finally, the nature of clay-court tennis means you absolutely must have patience. We do a lot of repetition work because you have to learn to build the rally on clay, and pick your moments to attack more clinically to compensate for the fact that the court slows the ball down and favours the defender.” What sort of player does best on clay? There are broadly two types of clay master: 1. The power hitter As the courts are slower, it takes phenomenal power to get the ball away from your opponent. On other surfaces, especially grass, the speed of the court will do a lot more of the work for you. Rafael Nadal is the greatest there has ever been at generating sufficient power on a clay court to consistently overwhelm his opponents from the baseline. He is also able to get so much topspin on his forehand that his opponents are trying to hit the ball at around shoulder height. This brutal mix of velocity and spin has made him far and away the best clay-courter of all time, and he is going for a record 11th French Open title at this year's tournament. David Ferrer is very tough to beat on clay Credit: Getty Images 2. The 'dirt rat' The alternative to bludgeoning the ball is to focus your game on defending effectively and driving your opponents to distraction. The slower pace of the courts makes this tactic more effective than on quicker courts. Spain’s David Ferrer is one of many clay-court natives to have made a career of this. Andre Agassi disparagingly described players like these as 'dirt rats' in his autobiography. Sounds fun. Where can I play in the UK? Ah, so here's the bad news. Public clay courts in the UK are about as rare as Jose Mourinho praising the opposition. According to LTA stats, there are around 230 public clay-courts in the UK. That number goes up to around 1,380 courts when courts belonging to clubs are taken into account. UK park courts | Percentage make-up of the different surfaces With clay-courts so scarce in the UK it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britain has produced just one French Open singles champion since Open Era tennis began in 1968 - Sue Barker in 1976. French Open champions tend to come from those places where players were brought up on clay, with Spain and South America particular hotbeds. So, for the next couple of weeks most Brits will have to content themselves with watching rather than playing clay-court tennis. Don't worry though - blink and you probably won't miss it.
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 20, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Power-packed: Rafael Nadal in practice at Roland Garros on Friday (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)
Power-packed: Rafael Nadal in practice at Roland Garros on Friday
Power-packed: Rafael Nadal in practice at Roland Garros on Friday (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
Nadal relishing Roland Garros return
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
Nadal relishing Roland Garros return
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
Nadal relishing Roland Garros return
Rafael Nadal says he's as motivated as ever as he prepares to chase an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.
British No. 3 Cameron Norrie had won only four tour-level matches heading into this week’s ATP 250 event in Lyon, but on Thursday he took out world No. 10 John Isner to move into the semi-finals. This was probably the best win of Norrie’s career, even if the Lyon tournament is not televised on the BBC like his victory over 21st-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut during February’s Davis Cup tie against Spain. Remarkably, both results came on clay – a surface that Norrie has barely played on. Even if Norrie loses to the experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon in today’s semi-final, he is still projected to climb 17 places to No 85 in the world when the next set of rankings are published. "I'm so stoked with my performance today," said Norrie, who shares a background in American college tennis with Isner. "He was a big idol of mine. It's crazy to be competing against guys like that now." Norrie also learned that he will face Peter Gojowczyk, the hardest man to spell in the top 100, in his first match at Roland Garros early next week. The French Open draw was held on Thursday night and threw up winnable opening rounds for all four British players. Kyle Edmund will face young Australian Alex De Minaur, while Johanna Konta plays Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan – a woman she thrashed in Rome last year – and Heather Watson drew the big-serving Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin. The draw has only strengthened Rafael Nadal’s chances of lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires for an 11th time, as most of his leading threats – Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic – landed in the opposite half. Meanwhile three-time champion Serena Williams, who did not receive a seeding despite heavy pressure from her admirers, will start against No. 70 Kristyna Pliskova. Should she reach the second week, Williams could face old foe Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
Britain's Cameron Norrie defeats John Isner to reach Lyon semi-finals
British No. 3 Cameron Norrie had won only four tour-level matches heading into this week’s ATP 250 event in Lyon, but on Thursday he took out world No. 10 John Isner to move into the semi-finals. This was probably the best win of Norrie’s career, even if the Lyon tournament is not televised on the BBC like his victory over 21st-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut during February’s Davis Cup tie against Spain. Remarkably, both results came on clay – a surface that Norrie has barely played on. Even if Norrie loses to the experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon in today’s semi-final, he is still projected to climb 17 places to No 85 in the world when the next set of rankings are published. "I'm so stoked with my performance today," said Norrie, who shares a background in American college tennis with Isner. "He was a big idol of mine. It's crazy to be competing against guys like that now." Norrie also learned that he will face Peter Gojowczyk, the hardest man to spell in the top 100, in his first match at Roland Garros early next week. The French Open draw was held on Thursday night and threw up winnable opening rounds for all four British players. Kyle Edmund will face young Australian Alex De Minaur, while Johanna Konta plays Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan – a woman she thrashed in Rome last year – and Heather Watson drew the big-serving Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin. The draw has only strengthened Rafael Nadal’s chances of lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires for an 11th time, as most of his leading threats – Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic – landed in the opposite half. Meanwhile three-time champion Serena Williams, who did not receive a seeding despite heavy pressure from her admirers, will start against No. 70 Kristyna Pliskova. Should she reach the second week, Williams could face old foe Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
FILE - In this June 11, 2017, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal holds the trophy as he celebrates winning his 10th French Open title, after defeating Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in three sets, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France. Even as his 32nd birthday approaches, Nadal is as dominant a figure as anyone ever has been on a particular tennis surface. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
Serena could face Sharapova in 4th round at French Open
FILE - In this June 11, 2017, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal holds the trophy as he celebrates winning his 10th French Open title, after defeating Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in three sets, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France. Even as his 32nd birthday approaches, Nadal is as dominant a figure as anyone ever has been on a particular tennis surface. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Champions return: Rafael Nadal and Jelena Ostapenko with their French Open trophies at Thursday's draw (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)
Champions return: Rafael Nadal and Jelena Ostapenko with their French Open trophies at Thursday's draw
Champions return: Rafael Nadal and Jelena Ostapenko with their French Open trophies at Thursday's draw (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: Kyle Edmund given tough run before possible Rafael Nadal semi-final
Kyle Edmund will play Australian teenager Alex de Minaur in the first round of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. The British number one is seeded 16th and, in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, carries his country's best hopes of an extended run at Roland Garros after recently breaking into the world's top 20 for the first time. Edmund's projected draw then sees him face Fabio Fognini in the third round, Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final and the great Rafael Nadal in the semis. Britain's other representative in the men's singles, Cameron Norrie, has been rewarded for making a grand slam main draw for the first time by being paired with Germany's Peter Gojowczyk. Defending champion Nadal is chasing an 11th title and will begin his campaign against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov. His great rival Novak Djokovic will hope to put injury and poor form behind him when he takes on a yet-to-be-decided qualifier. Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite to win an 11th French Open title Credit: Getty Images British women's number one Johanna Konta will also hope for better fortunes after a disappointing start to the year when she faces first-round opponent Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan. Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko will open her defence of the women's title against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and Britain's other representative in the women's singles' draw, world number 86 Heather Watson, faces France's Oceane Dodin. Former world number one Serena Williams, unseeded and making her first grand slam appearance since the 2017 Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter, faces a tough test against world number six Karolina Pliskova. Simona Halep, the current world number one and top seed, has an opening-round match against American Alison Riske. Via Press Association 6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough) R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
French Open 2018 draw: live updates
6:50PM That concludes the draw All done. The first-round matches to look out for: Edmund v De Minaur in first round Cameron Norrie v Peter Gojowczyk Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov Alexander Zverev v Ricardas Berankis Heather Watson v Oceane Dodin Johanna Konta v Yulia Putintseva Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova Serena Williams v Kristyna Pliskova 6:41PM Nadal's path to glory R1: Dolgopolov R2: Sousa/Pella R3: Gasquet R4: Shapovalov/Sock QF: Schwartzman/Anderson SF: Cilic F: Zverev Credit: AFP 6:40PM Novak Djokovic will begins against a qualifier, and can't play Nadal until the final. 6:39PM Let's get ahead of ourselves... Projected route for Kyle Edmund: R1: De Minaur R2: Pospisil/Fucsovics R3: Fognini (this would be extremely tough R4: Cilic QF: Isner/Del Potro SF: Nadal F: Zverev 6:38PM Projected fourth rounds Nadal-Sock Schwartzman-Anderson Cilic-Edmund (would be a repeat of the Australian Open semi-final) Isner-del Potro Goffin-Carreno Busta Bautista Agut-Dimitrov Thiem-Querrey Pouille-A. Zverev 6:37PM Projected men's quarters [1] Nadal vs [6] Anderson [3] Cilic vs [5] Del Potro [8] Goffin vs [4] Dimitrov [7] Thiem vs [2] A. Zverev 6:37PM More Brit Watch Edmund v Aussie youngster De Minaur in round one. 6:35PM Draw opening up Cilic in Nadal's half; Dimitrov in Zverev's half. 6:32PM Brit Watch Cameron Norrie will play Germany's world No 49 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round. 6:31PM At the bottom of the draw Ricardas Berankis' name comes out last - so he'll play Alex Zverev in round one. 6:30PM Pella or Sousa Will play winner of Dolgopolov/Nadal in round two. 6:28PM Men's draw has started The non-seeds are out first. Alexandr Dolgopolov's name is out first so he'll play Nadal in the first round. I remember seeing Dolgopolov beat Rafa at Queen's a few years ago. Will history repeat itself? To quote Nigel Pearson: My suspicion would be no. 6:27PM The draw in full Credit: Twitter 6:24PM That's the women's draw over with The men are up next. 6:24PM Serena could play Sharapova in fourth round! Full Serena draw projection: R1: Kristyna Pliskova R2: Vikhlyantseva/Barty R3: Goerges/Cibulkova/Van Uytvanck/Wallace R16: Karolina Pliskova/Sharapova QF: Garbine Muguruza SF: Simona Halep F: Svitolina/Wozniacki#RG18— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 24, 2018 6:23PM Serena's path Serena Williams' second round if she gets past Pliskova would be against the winner of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Ash Barty. 6:22PM Konta's name is out of the hat She will play world No 93 Yulia Putintseva in the first round. 6:21PM Ostapenko could play Azarenka in round two! What a match that would be. 6:21PM Projected fourth round matches Halep-Mertens Kerber-Garcia Muguruza-Vandeweghe Goerges-Pliskova Ostapenko-Venus Williams Keys-Svitolina Kvitova-Stephens Kasatkina-Wozniacki 6:20PM Top seeds have learnt their fate [1] Halep vs Riske [2] Wozniacki vs Collins [3] Muguruza vs Kuznetsova [4] Svitolina vs Tomljanovic [5] Ostapenko vs Kozlova 6:20PM Projected women's quarter-finals Halep-Garcia Muguruza-Pliskova Ostapenko-Svitolina Kvitova-Wozniacki 6:19PM Some more matches coming out Huge match: 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza vs 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova Heather Watson vs Oceane Dodin No.1 seed Simona Halep vs Alison Riske Azarenka vs Siniakova 6:17PM Spicy first-rounder No.2 Caroline Wozniacki will open against the American Danielle Collins. 6:17PM Next up A French Olympian ice dancer is then called to the stage. *Gallic shrug* 6:15PM Serena is unseeded remember... And she will play world No 70 Kristyna Pliskova in the first round! The non-seeded players are drawn first. 6:11PM Nearly there Remy Azemar the tournament referee has taken to the stage to conduct the draw. It's the women's draw first. Credit: AFP 6:07PM Quite a lot of preamble in French I'd be lying if I said I understood it all. One commenter on Facebook has written 'English please'. 6:03PM Before the draw... ...a snazzy virtual reality tour of the refurbished grounds at Roland Garros. Then the president of the French federation takes to the stage to make the draw. Come on fella, don't talk too long about the new facilities at RG. 6:00PM Here we go The draw is being broadcast live on Facebook, and some moody music has started playing. I think this is a good thing, and means the draw is about to get under way. 5:54PM The female seeds 1. Simona Halep 2. Caroline Wozniacki 3. Garbiñe Muguruza 4. Elina Svitolina 5. Jeļena Ostapenko 6. Karolína Plíšková 7. Caroline Garcia 8. Petra Kvitová 9. Venus Williams 10. Sloane Stephens 11. Julia Görges 12. Angelique Kerber 13. Madison Keys 14. Daria Kasatkina 15. CoCo Vandeweghe 16. Elise Mertens 17. Ashleigh Barty 18. Kiki Bertens 19. Magdaléna Rybáriková 20. Anastasija Sevastova 21. Naomi Osaka 22. Johanna Konta 23. Carla Suárez Navarro 24. Daria Gavrilova 25. Anett Kontaveit 26. Barbora Strýcová 27. Shuai Zhang 28. Maria Sharapova 29. Kristina Mladenovic 30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 31. Mihaela Buzărnescu 32. Alizé Cornet 5:51PM The male seeds 1. Rafael Nadal 2. Alexander Zverev 3. Marin Čilić 4. Grigor Dimitrov 5. Juan Martín del Potro 6. Kevin Anderson 7. Dominic Thiem 8. David Goffin 9. John Isner 10. Pablo Carreño Busta 11. Diego Schwartzman 12. Sam Querrey 13. Roberto Bautista Agut 14. Jack Sock 15. Lucas Pouille 16. Kyle Edmund Rafael Nadal's 15 most outrageous ever shots 17. Tomáš Berdych 18. Fabio Fognini 19. Hyeon Chung 20. Kei Nishikori 21. Novak Djokovic 22. Nick Kyrgios 23. Philipp Kohlschreiber 24. Stan Wawrinka 25. Denis Shapovalov 26. Adrian Mannarino 27. Filip Krajinović 28. Damir Džumhur 29. Andrey Rublev 30. Richard Gasquet 31. Feliciano López 32. Gilles Müller 5:37PM Brits abroad Afternoon all, welcome to our coverage of the French Open draw, which will get underway at 6pm BST. Andy Murray is out of course, but there are four Brits in the singles draw - including the 16th seed in the men's competition Kyle Edmund, and the 22nd seed in the women's event Johanna Konta. Both draws have 32 seeds and 128 entrants, which makes for seven rounds. Below, our pals at the Press Association have helpfully profiled the British quartet. The seven greatest ever French Open matches Kyle Edmund Edmund goes into the tournament as Britain's main hope for success after a superb start to 2018. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman will be seeded at a slam for the first time after breaking into the top 20 and can hope to build on his stunning run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Edmund has developed a lot under his coaching team of Fredrik Rosengren and Mark Hilton and is unusual among British players in being totally at home on clay, which rewards his huge forehand. He reached the third round last year and will hope to go further. Cameron Norrie Norrie has qualified directly for a slam on ranking for the first time thanks to his swift progress. The 22-year-old only turned professional a year ago after a stellar college career in the United States but will break into the top 100 on Monday. Born in South Africa to British parents before growing up in New Zealand and now based in the States, Norrie made a remarkable Davis Cup debut in February by beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down. That was virtually his first experience on clay but the left-hander has shown himself to be a quick learner and an excellent competitor. Johanna Konta Konta's dramatic slump at the end of 2017 carried over into 2018 but there have been signs over the last couple of months that the British number one is feeling more confident again. The 27-year-old now finds herself ranked down in the 20s having spent more than a year in the top 10 and has made only one quarter-final this season. Clay is Konta's weakest surface, although she insists she does not dislike it, and she has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros. Even one victory would be a welcome boost ahead of the grass-court season, where Konta has a huge number of ranking points to defend. Heather Watson Watson's career has been marked by inconsistency and 2018 has been miserable so far for the 26-year-old. She at least goes into the French Open having ended a lengthy losing run on the WTA Tour, which began with a semi-final loss in Hobart in January and extended until the first round in Nurnberg this week. On a positive note, Watson is in the main draw by right this year, unlike 12 months ago, and the world number 86 will hope to take belief from previous performances at Roland Garros, where she has made the second round five times.
Men’s tennis stands on the cusp of renewal as a new generation of young talents … Er, wait a second. Stop the tape. Haven’t we heard all this before? Predictions of an imminent realignment of the game have been two-a-penny for almost a decade. The clock-watchers started counting as soon as Roger Federer had completed his grand-slam set at the 2009 French Open. Yet as we head into the 2018 edition, it is still Federer and Rafael Nadal who lead the ATP rankings ladder. Which is where Denis Shapovalov comes in. Now standing at No 26 in the world, this precocious Canadian was born in 1999, just a fortnight after The Matrix arrived on our cinema screens. To borrow a portentous phrase from that movie, could Shapovalov, finally, be “The One”? With his skater-boy styling, Shapovalov is a genuinely charismatic package. He comes equipped with a toothy grin, a distinctive long blond mane, and more than a hint of swagger. But what marks him out from the rest of the ATP’s “NextGen” group is his respect for the past. In January, one leading coach told the Telegraph that "these up-and-coming kids are super-athletic and hit the ball super-hard but they don’t actually watch tennis!” The exception to the rule is Shapovalov, who knows his 1990s legends – especially Pat Rafter – like he knows his own family. At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers Credit: Reuters “I definitely like looking at past videos of the great champions on YouTube,” Shapovalov told the Telegraph. “Great matches like Roger [Federer] beating [Pete] Sampras, stuff like that. I used to watch a lot of Rafter, trying to pick up on his volleys and the way he would use his legs and his footwork to make those plays. “I love watching Canadians too,” adds Shapovalov, who recently overtook compatriot Milos Raonic to become the new national No 1. “One of my favourites is Danny [Nestor] beating [Stefan] Edberg when he was 18. When he won the match it was almost like he was embarrassed to win it, he had no reaction. For me I would probably go nuts, so it’s a little bit different – but definitely similar in terms of young guys coming up. He was a lefty like me, playing the world No 1. I kind of know that feeling.” At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers like Alexander Zverev (6ft 6in) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (6ft 4in). But he generates thrilling power with his loose, whiplash swings, particularly on his single-handed backhand. It’s not muscle-strength that is doing the work, but extreme flexibility and a fearless state of mind. “Marty [coach Martin Laurendeau] says I am made of rubber,” Shapovalov explains. “I get to a lot of balls, but I guess that’s just naturally how I am. One time, when I was about ten, my friend had a party at this gymnastic place. I used to have a trampoline so I could do flips. They were so impressed, they were like ‘Wow, you should try being a gymnast.’ My mum was like ‘No, he’s gonna be too tall, we’re only interested in tennis.’ But I’m not like Andrey Rublev [another member of the NextGen group] – I think he used to walk on his hands when he was young.” Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv, after his mother Tessa – a serious player in her own right – had emigrated there from Russia. “My parents left the Soviet Union as it was kind of falling apart,” he says now. “My mum followed her coach to Israel, and my dad came along with her. She played out of Israel for several years and started coaching from there. She had my brother and me and they decided to move to Toronto when I was nine months old. “I think my fire, my determination to win, does come from my Russian background. My parents helped develop that when I was growing up. But at the same time, Canada is a very proud country, and a country that is literally built on immigrants and accepting different people and cultures. I think my pride comes from the Canadian part of me.” In a sport dominated by identikit baseliners, Shapovalov stands out so dramatically that you can identify him from just his voice, his silhouette, or the shape of his strokeplay. His cavalier style makes him catnip for spectators. At last year’s US Open, the 15,000-odd fans on Arthur Ashe stadium were devastated to see him fall in the fourth round, but offered a standing ovation anyway. It had been the same story at Queen’s Club, two months earlier, after Shapovalov had pushed the former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych deep into the twilight of a summer’s evening. As the players came off court, the BBC commentator John Lloyd suggested that Shapovalov’s shot-making and sheer gall had reminded him of a young Boris Becker. The seven greatest ever French Open matches “That was insane,” says Shapovalov now of his star-making run in New York. “First of all, I can’t believe they put me on Arthur Ashe for one match, let alone three in a row. To play in such a big stadium with so many people was amazing. “The first time I really played in that sort of environment was against [Alex] Di Minaur in the Wimbledon boys’ final. At the beginning we were both really tight, there was so many people watching us. But after a couple of games I started to enjoy it, to enjoy showing the fans my tennis and how I play, and ever since then I loved it. “I remember when I got my first wild card into Rogers Cup [in his home city of Toronto two years ago], I asked to play on the main court in front of everyone. Like I always say, I grew up wanting to play in these big stadiums so when I get a chance it’s the best feeling for me. It’s my dream come true, so why would I be scared of it?” Why indeed? It’s the rest of the locker-room who should be watching their backs. Denis Shapovalov is part of the strongest-ever line-up at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, 18th-24th June, alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund. Tickets–www.fevertreechampionships. com
Exclusive: Denis Shapovalov on knowing his tennis legends, being likened to a young Boris Becker and playing with no fear
Men’s tennis stands on the cusp of renewal as a new generation of young talents … Er, wait a second. Stop the tape. Haven’t we heard all this before? Predictions of an imminent realignment of the game have been two-a-penny for almost a decade. The clock-watchers started counting as soon as Roger Federer had completed his grand-slam set at the 2009 French Open. Yet as we head into the 2018 edition, it is still Federer and Rafael Nadal who lead the ATP rankings ladder. Which is where Denis Shapovalov comes in. Now standing at No 26 in the world, this precocious Canadian was born in 1999, just a fortnight after The Matrix arrived on our cinema screens. To borrow a portentous phrase from that movie, could Shapovalov, finally, be “The One”? With his skater-boy styling, Shapovalov is a genuinely charismatic package. He comes equipped with a toothy grin, a distinctive long blond mane, and more than a hint of swagger. But what marks him out from the rest of the ATP’s “NextGen” group is his respect for the past. In January, one leading coach told the Telegraph that "these up-and-coming kids are super-athletic and hit the ball super-hard but they don’t actually watch tennis!” The exception to the rule is Shapovalov, who knows his 1990s legends – especially Pat Rafter – like he knows his own family. At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers Credit: Reuters “I definitely like looking at past videos of the great champions on YouTube,” Shapovalov told the Telegraph. “Great matches like Roger [Federer] beating [Pete] Sampras, stuff like that. I used to watch a lot of Rafter, trying to pick up on his volleys and the way he would use his legs and his footwork to make those plays. “I love watching Canadians too,” adds Shapovalov, who recently overtook compatriot Milos Raonic to become the new national No 1. “One of my favourites is Danny [Nestor] beating [Stefan] Edberg when he was 18. When he won the match it was almost like he was embarrassed to win it, he had no reaction. For me I would probably go nuts, so it’s a little bit different – but definitely similar in terms of young guys coming up. He was a lefty like me, playing the world No 1. I kind of know that feeling.” At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers like Alexander Zverev (6ft 6in) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (6ft 4in). But he generates thrilling power with his loose, whiplash swings, particularly on his single-handed backhand. It’s not muscle-strength that is doing the work, but extreme flexibility and a fearless state of mind. “Marty [coach Martin Laurendeau] says I am made of rubber,” Shapovalov explains. “I get to a lot of balls, but I guess that’s just naturally how I am. One time, when I was about ten, my friend had a party at this gymnastic place. I used to have a trampoline so I could do flips. They were so impressed, they were like ‘Wow, you should try being a gymnast.’ My mum was like ‘No, he’s gonna be too tall, we’re only interested in tennis.’ But I’m not like Andrey Rublev [another member of the NextGen group] – I think he used to walk on his hands when he was young.” Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv, after his mother Tessa – a serious player in her own right – had emigrated there from Russia. “My parents left the Soviet Union as it was kind of falling apart,” he says now. “My mum followed her coach to Israel, and my dad came along with her. She played out of Israel for several years and started coaching from there. She had my brother and me and they decided to move to Toronto when I was nine months old. “I think my fire, my determination to win, does come from my Russian background. My parents helped develop that when I was growing up. But at the same time, Canada is a very proud country, and a country that is literally built on immigrants and accepting different people and cultures. I think my pride comes from the Canadian part of me.” In a sport dominated by identikit baseliners, Shapovalov stands out so dramatically that you can identify him from just his voice, his silhouette, or the shape of his strokeplay. His cavalier style makes him catnip for spectators. At last year’s US Open, the 15,000-odd fans on Arthur Ashe stadium were devastated to see him fall in the fourth round, but offered a standing ovation anyway. It had been the same story at Queen’s Club, two months earlier, after Shapovalov had pushed the former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych deep into the twilight of a summer’s evening. As the players came off court, the BBC commentator John Lloyd suggested that Shapovalov’s shot-making and sheer gall had reminded him of a young Boris Becker. The seven greatest ever French Open matches “That was insane,” says Shapovalov now of his star-making run in New York. “First of all, I can’t believe they put me on Arthur Ashe for one match, let alone three in a row. To play in such a big stadium with so many people was amazing. “The first time I really played in that sort of environment was against [Alex] Di Minaur in the Wimbledon boys’ final. At the beginning we were both really tight, there was so many people watching us. But after a couple of games I started to enjoy it, to enjoy showing the fans my tennis and how I play, and ever since then I loved it. “I remember when I got my first wild card into Rogers Cup [in his home city of Toronto two years ago], I asked to play on the main court in front of everyone. Like I always say, I grew up wanting to play in these big stadiums so when I get a chance it’s the best feeling for me. It’s my dream come true, so why would I be scared of it?” Why indeed? It’s the rest of the locker-room who should be watching their backs. Denis Shapovalov is part of the strongest-ever line-up at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, 18th-24th June, alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund. Tickets–www.fevertreechampionships. com
Men’s tennis stands on the cusp of renewal as a new generation of young talents … Er, wait a second. Stop the tape. Haven’t we heard all this before? Predictions of an imminent realignment of the game have been two-a-penny for almost a decade. The clock-watchers started counting as soon as Roger Federer had completed his grand-slam set at the 2009 French Open. Yet as we head into the 2018 edition, it is still Federer and Rafael Nadal who lead the ATP rankings ladder. Which is where Denis Shapovalov comes in. Now standing at No 26 in the world, this precocious Canadian was born in 1999, just a fortnight after The Matrix arrived on our cinema screens. To borrow a portentous phrase from that movie, could Shapovalov, finally, be “The One”? With his skater-boy styling, Shapovalov is a genuinely charismatic package. He comes equipped with a toothy grin, a distinctive long blond mane, and more than a hint of swagger. But what marks him out from the rest of the ATP’s “NextGen” group is his respect for the past. In January, one leading coach told the Telegraph that "these up-and-coming kids are super-athletic and hit the ball super-hard but they don’t actually watch tennis!” The exception to the rule is Shapovalov, who knows his 1990s legends – especially Pat Rafter – like he knows his own family. At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers Credit: Reuters “I definitely like looking at past videos of the great champions on YouTube,” Shapovalov told the Telegraph. “Great matches like Roger [Federer] beating [Pete] Sampras, stuff like that. I used to watch a lot of Rafter, trying to pick up on his volleys and the way he would use his legs and his footwork to make those plays. “I love watching Canadians too,” adds Shapovalov, who recently overtook compatriot Milos Raonic to become the new national No 1. “One of my favourites is Danny [Nestor] beating [Stefan] Edberg when he was 18. When he won the match it was almost like he was embarrassed to win it, he had no reaction. For me I would probably go nuts, so it’s a little bit different – but definitely similar in terms of young guys coming up. He was a lefty like me, playing the world No 1. I kind of know that feeling.” At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers like Alexander Zverev (6ft 6in) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (6ft 4in). But he generates thrilling power with his loose, whiplash swings, particularly on his single-handed backhand. It’s not muscle-strength that is doing the work, but extreme flexibility and a fearless state of mind. “Marty [coach Martin Laurendeau] says I am made of rubber,” Shapovalov explains. “I get to a lot of balls, but I guess that’s just naturally how I am. One time, when I was about ten, my friend had a party at this gymnastic place. I used to have a trampoline so I could do flips. They were so impressed, they were like ‘Wow, you should try being a gymnast.’ My mum was like ‘No, he’s gonna be too tall, we’re only interested in tennis.’ But I’m not like Andrey Rublev [another member of the NextGen group] – I think he used to walk on his hands when he was young.” Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv, after his mother Tessa – a serious player in her own right – had emigrated there from Russia. “My parents left the Soviet Union as it was kind of falling apart,” he says now. “My mum followed her coach to Israel, and my dad came along with her. She played out of Israel for several years and started coaching from there. She had my brother and me and they decided to move to Toronto when I was nine months old. “I think my fire, my determination to win, does come from my Russian background. My parents helped develop that when I was growing up. But at the same time, Canada is a very proud country, and a country that is literally built on immigrants and accepting different people and cultures. I think my pride comes from the Canadian part of me.” In a sport dominated by identikit baseliners, Shapovalov stands out so dramatically that you can identify him from just his voice, his silhouette, or the shape of his strokeplay. His cavalier style makes him catnip for spectators. At last year’s US Open, the 15,000-odd fans on Arthur Ashe stadium were devastated to see him fall in the fourth round, but offered a standing ovation anyway. It had been the same story at Queen’s Club, two months earlier, after Shapovalov had pushed the former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych deep into the twilight of a summer’s evening. As the players came off court, the BBC commentator John Lloyd suggested that Shapovalov’s shot-making and sheer gall had reminded him of a young Boris Becker. The seven greatest ever French Open matches “That was insane,” says Shapovalov now of his star-making run in New York. “First of all, I can’t believe they put me on Arthur Ashe for one match, let alone three in a row. To play in such a big stadium with so many people was amazing. “The first time I really played in that sort of environment was against [Alex] Di Minaur in the Wimbledon boys’ final. At the beginning we were both really tight, there was so many people watching us. But after a couple of games I started to enjoy it, to enjoy showing the fans my tennis and how I play, and ever since then I loved it. “I remember when I got my first wild card into Rogers Cup [in his home city of Toronto two years ago], I asked to play on the main court in front of everyone. Like I always say, I grew up wanting to play in these big stadiums so when I get a chance it’s the best feeling for me. It’s my dream come true, so why would I be scared of it?” Why indeed? It’s the rest of the locker-room who should be watching their backs. Denis Shapovalov is part of the strongest-ever line-up at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, 18th-24th June, alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund. Tickets–www.fevertreechampionships. com
Exclusive: Denis Shapovalov on knowing his tennis legends, being likened to a young Boris Becker and playing with no fear
Men’s tennis stands on the cusp of renewal as a new generation of young talents … Er, wait a second. Stop the tape. Haven’t we heard all this before? Predictions of an imminent realignment of the game have been two-a-penny for almost a decade. The clock-watchers started counting as soon as Roger Federer had completed his grand-slam set at the 2009 French Open. Yet as we head into the 2018 edition, it is still Federer and Rafael Nadal who lead the ATP rankings ladder. Which is where Denis Shapovalov comes in. Now standing at No 26 in the world, this precocious Canadian was born in 1999, just a fortnight after The Matrix arrived on our cinema screens. To borrow a portentous phrase from that movie, could Shapovalov, finally, be “The One”? With his skater-boy styling, Shapovalov is a genuinely charismatic package. He comes equipped with a toothy grin, a distinctive long blond mane, and more than a hint of swagger. But what marks him out from the rest of the ATP’s “NextGen” group is his respect for the past. In January, one leading coach told the Telegraph that "these up-and-coming kids are super-athletic and hit the ball super-hard but they don’t actually watch tennis!” The exception to the rule is Shapovalov, who knows his 1990s legends – especially Pat Rafter – like he knows his own family. At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers Credit: Reuters “I definitely like looking at past videos of the great champions on YouTube,” Shapovalov told the Telegraph. “Great matches like Roger [Federer] beating [Pete] Sampras, stuff like that. I used to watch a lot of Rafter, trying to pick up on his volleys and the way he would use his legs and his footwork to make those plays. “I love watching Canadians too,” adds Shapovalov, who recently overtook compatriot Milos Raonic to become the new national No 1. “One of my favourites is Danny [Nestor] beating [Stefan] Edberg when he was 18. When he won the match it was almost like he was embarrassed to win it, he had no reaction. For me I would probably go nuts, so it’s a little bit different – but definitely similar in terms of young guys coming up. He was a lefty like me, playing the world No 1. I kind of know that feeling.” At 6ft tall and not quite 12 stone, Shapovalov is a relative lightweight by the standards of peers like Alexander Zverev (6ft 6in) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (6ft 4in). But he generates thrilling power with his loose, whiplash swings, particularly on his single-handed backhand. It’s not muscle-strength that is doing the work, but extreme flexibility and a fearless state of mind. “Marty [coach Martin Laurendeau] says I am made of rubber,” Shapovalov explains. “I get to a lot of balls, but I guess that’s just naturally how I am. One time, when I was about ten, my friend had a party at this gymnastic place. I used to have a trampoline so I could do flips. They were so impressed, they were like ‘Wow, you should try being a gymnast.’ My mum was like ‘No, he’s gonna be too tall, we’re only interested in tennis.’ But I’m not like Andrey Rublev [another member of the NextGen group] – I think he used to walk on his hands when he was young.” Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv, after his mother Tessa – a serious player in her own right – had emigrated there from Russia. “My parents left the Soviet Union as it was kind of falling apart,” he says now. “My mum followed her coach to Israel, and my dad came along with her. She played out of Israel for several years and started coaching from there. She had my brother and me and they decided to move to Toronto when I was nine months old. “I think my fire, my determination to win, does come from my Russian background. My parents helped develop that when I was growing up. But at the same time, Canada is a very proud country, and a country that is literally built on immigrants and accepting different people and cultures. I think my pride comes from the Canadian part of me.” In a sport dominated by identikit baseliners, Shapovalov stands out so dramatically that you can identify him from just his voice, his silhouette, or the shape of his strokeplay. His cavalier style makes him catnip for spectators. At last year’s US Open, the 15,000-odd fans on Arthur Ashe stadium were devastated to see him fall in the fourth round, but offered a standing ovation anyway. It had been the same story at Queen’s Club, two months earlier, after Shapovalov had pushed the former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych deep into the twilight of a summer’s evening. As the players came off court, the BBC commentator John Lloyd suggested that Shapovalov’s shot-making and sheer gall had reminded him of a young Boris Becker. The seven greatest ever French Open matches “That was insane,” says Shapovalov now of his star-making run in New York. “First of all, I can’t believe they put me on Arthur Ashe for one match, let alone three in a row. To play in such a big stadium with so many people was amazing. “The first time I really played in that sort of environment was against [Alex] Di Minaur in the Wimbledon boys’ final. At the beginning we were both really tight, there was so many people watching us. But after a couple of games I started to enjoy it, to enjoy showing the fans my tennis and how I play, and ever since then I loved it. “I remember when I got my first wild card into Rogers Cup [in his home city of Toronto two years ago], I asked to play on the main court in front of everyone. Like I always say, I grew up wanting to play in these big stadiums so when I get a chance it’s the best feeling for me. It’s my dream come true, so why would I be scared of it?” Why indeed? It’s the rest of the locker-room who should be watching their backs. Denis Shapovalov is part of the strongest-ever line-up at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, 18th-24th June, alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund. Tickets–www.fevertreechampionships. com
What is it? It's the draw for the French Open, the second grand slam of the year which starts on Sunday, May 27 and runs until Sunday, June 2018. When is the draw? It takes place three days before the main draw gets underway so today, Thursday, May 24. What time will it be? At 6pm. Is that when the draw is usually made? No, it used to be on Friday lunchtime, two days before the start of the main tournament. Where will it take place? At the Orangery which is a new venue for the draw at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal's 10 French Open titles ranked How can I watch it? Eurosport will have live coverage of the draw, as will the Roland Garros official Facebook page. Alternatively, bookmark this page and come back later for our rolling blog. Who are the favourites? Rafael Nadal is the overwhelming favourite to land an 11th Roland Garros title in the men's singles. Nadal has not been beaten on clay since defeat to Dominic Thiem in Rome last May. Roger Federer misses his third straight French Open. The 20-times grand slam champion has opted to sit out the clay-court season to safeguard his body and concentrate on the grass events later in the summer. The women's draw is again another wide-open affair. Simona Halep, who lost last year's final to the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko is favourite with the bookies, while Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza are among the leading contenders. What the latest odds? Men's singles Rafael Nadal 1/2 Dominic Thiem 12/1 Novak Djokovic 12/1 Alexander Zverev 22/1 Juan Martin del Potro 22/1 Women's singles Simona Halep 6/1 Elina Svitolina 9/1 Garbine Muguruza 9/1 Serena Williams 11/1 Jelena Ostapenko 14/1
French Open 2018: When is the draw, what time will it take place and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It's the draw for the French Open, the second grand slam of the year which starts on Sunday, May 27 and runs until Sunday, June 2018. When is the draw? It takes place three days before the main draw gets underway so today, Thursday, May 24. What time will it be? At 6pm. Is that when the draw is usually made? No, it used to be on Friday lunchtime, two days before the start of the main tournament. Where will it take place? At the Orangery which is a new venue for the draw at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal's 10 French Open titles ranked How can I watch it? Eurosport will have live coverage of the draw, as will the Roland Garros official Facebook page. Alternatively, bookmark this page and come back later for our rolling blog. Who are the favourites? Rafael Nadal is the overwhelming favourite to land an 11th Roland Garros title in the men's singles. Nadal has not been beaten on clay since defeat to Dominic Thiem in Rome last May. Roger Federer misses his third straight French Open. The 20-times grand slam champion has opted to sit out the clay-court season to safeguard his body and concentrate on the grass events later in the summer. The women's draw is again another wide-open affair. Simona Halep, who lost last year's final to the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko is favourite with the bookies, while Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza are among the leading contenders. What the latest odds? Men's singles Rafael Nadal 1/2 Dominic Thiem 12/1 Novak Djokovic 12/1 Alexander Zverev 22/1 Juan Martin del Potro 22/1 Women's singles Simona Halep 6/1 Elina Svitolina 9/1 Garbine Muguruza 9/1 Serena Williams 11/1 Jelena Ostapenko 14/1
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 19, 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic during his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 19, 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic during his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 19, 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic during his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Tony Gentile
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
Tennis - ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 19, 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic during his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the Italian Open final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the Italian Open final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
FILE PHOTO: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning the final against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Tony Gentile
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
The seven greatest ever French Open matches
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
The seven greatest ever French Open matches
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
The seven greatest ever French Open matches
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
The seven greatest ever French Open matches
7. Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) - 2009 fourth round In every sport, there are upsets so profoundly shocking that they become the benchmark for any future surprise result. Boxing has Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas, rugby union has Japan's defeat of South Africa, while football in 2016 added Leicester winning the Premier League to its canon. In tennis, there are few, if any, greater upsets than Robin Soderling's win against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009. Nadal was considered unbeatable at the French Open where he never lost a match and prowled the baseline like a predator mercilessly defending his territory. Aged 22, he was already a four-time Roland Garros champion, and had not dropped so much as a set in his previous 10 matches there. Coming into the fourth round match against Soderling, Nadal looked set fair for a fifth straight title. He had cruised through his first three matches - taking his win-loss record in Paris to 31-0 - including a demolition job of former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt whom he had beaten for the loss of just five games. In January, Nadal had won his first hard-court major at the Australian Open, and he had completely dominated the start of the clay-court season by winning the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. When the players took to the Phillipe Chatrier court on a cloudy Parisian afternoon, no-one gave Soderling a hope of upsetting the King of Clay in his unbreachable fortress. Soderling interview Soderling though had two things in his favour. The first was a huge all or nothing game that meant he could beat anyone on his day, and the second was that he knew how to get under Nadal's skin. The Swede was something of an outsider in the locker room, and he revelled in antagonising his opponents, especially Nadal. The pair's previous two meetings had been fractious, with Soderling angering Nadal and the Rome crowd a month earlier when he swore at the umpire over a disputed line call despite it being himself who had clearly pointed to the wrong mark on the court. The rivalry really intensified though at Wimbledon in 2007 when the two players' third-round five-set match stretched over five days due to rain and became a tetchy and testy slugfest. Nadal was enraged at the constant delays, and Soderling sought to wind him up further, behaving like an annoying sibling who knew exactly what buttons to press. He mimicked Nadal's habit of fiddling with his shorts and to poke fun at of how long Nadal took between points, he would deliberately stall the Spaniard and offer his hand in mock-apology. Taking to the role of pantomime villain perfectly, Soderling eschewed the tennis etiquette of aplogising after a dead net cord, and instead celebrated such a point in the fifth set with a fist pump. After the match he said: "Why should I say I’m sorry when it’s the happiest moment of my life?" The handshake at the end of the match was frostier than the unseasonally cold temperatures at SW19, and Nadal pulled no punches in his post-match interview. “I have said hello to him seven times to his face, and he has never said hello to me," he said. "I asked around the locker room; almost nobody had anything nice to say about him.” Robin Soderling celebrates beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009 Soderling responded: "Personally, if I have a problem with a player I go and talk to him face-to-face." Of his reputation as a loner, he added: "Do I have any friends on tour? Not many. I used to hang around with other Swedes, but there are fewer now." In the highly sanitised world of the ATP Tour where everyone seemed to get along, this was genuine needle and made for an intriguing pre-match sub-plot. But despite Nadal's open distaste for his opponent, there was little to suggest that he would have too many problems in beating Soderling. As well as his formidable record at Roland Garros and on clay in general, Nadal had won all three of his previous matches against Soderling, and hammered him 6-1, 6-0 in that Rome meeting a month earlier. Soderling, the world No 25, had been having a mixed year and had gone out early in all of the clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. Once in Paris though, he began to play with more authority and took out the 14th seed David Ferrer in four sets to reach the last 16 - his first fourth-round appearance at a major. In the first set against Nadal, Soderling was, to use tennis parlance, red lining. Nadal looked utterly powerless, failing to get a grip in the match as if he was being tossed around in a washing machine. Soderling's forehand was an inelegant slap that could often go awry, but suddenly he could not miss with it and he was sending Nadal so far behind the baseline that he was almost in Belgium. Nadal was left floundering in an opening set that went the Swede's way 6-2. Nadal sits on the clay after falling against Soderling When you watch the match back, one of the striking things is how loud and desperate Nadal's grunting quickly becomes. He sounds almost strangled by the exertion of what he's up against and the shock of getting so badly beaten up on his favourite court. Nadal took the second set on a tie-break, but still something was not right. The Spaniard's snarl had become an anxious furrowed brow, and Soderling was feeding off his tension. The more Nadal hoped his rival would take a backwards step, the more Soderling went for the jugular - battering down aces and big forehands, and picking off volleys at the net like a Scandinavian Pete Sampras. Nadal began to look frazzled, with his sweat-drenched hair creeping down into his narrowed eyes. In the seventh game of the third set, Soderling screamed a backhand at Nadal to earn a crucial break of serve. Shortly after Nadal collapsed to the floor like a giant tree felled by a lumberjack as he lost his footing hitting a backhand. The symbolism of the fall was obvious, and John McEnroe remarked in commentary: "He just doesn’t know what to do out there." Soderling took the set 6-4 to leave Nadal on the brink of elimination. The Spaniard though did not give up - his ferocious competitiveness never left him and he took an early break in the fourth set to regain a semblance of control. It would prove to be an illusion however, as Soderling broke back and took the fourth set on a tie-break to win the match. The crowd, desperate for a Roger Federer win at the tournament, had been resolutely in favour of Soderling throughout the match and roared their approval at seeing Nadal finally beaten at Roland Garros. The tennis world scrambled around for an explanation, and they received one of sorts a few weeks later when Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon due to tendonitis in both knees. It would later emerge that the Spaniard was also suffering severe distress from the divorce of his parents. But it is too easy to attribute the defeat to one or both of these factors. Yes, they may have contributed but Nadal had still been in sensational form at the time, and it took a player with the courage and self-belief of Soderling to take advantage. The way Soderling was playing that day - hitting 61 winners to Nadal's 33 - he would have beaten Rafa at any stage of his career. The scale of the shock was only added to in the subsequent years, as Nadal won the next five French Opens and his following 39 matches at Roland Garros, include a straight-sets win over Soderling in the 2010 final. Even now, nine years on Nadal has only been beaten once in Paris since the Soderling upset. The victory was the launchpad for Soderling's career, as he reached consecutive French Open finals and a career-high ranking of No 4. Sadly he was forced to retire in 2015 having not played since 2011 due to a severe and long-running bout of glandular fever. Nadal of course quickly re-established himself as the King of Clay, and is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career as he targets an 11th French Open title. But he will never forget that Sunday in May eight years ago when he was dethroned so brutally by the player he disliked the most. 6. Andre Agassi defeats Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 - 1999 Final The story of Andre Agassi's rise and fall and then rise again was like something out of a Hollywood script. The glamorous, exciting young Las Vegan with the mullet and neon spandex who had too much too young before plumbing the depths and taking crystal meth as his world crumbled around him. Then the rise from the ashes that saw a redeemed, more mature version of his younger self gain some much needed perspective and come back stronger than ever before. The fall in 1997 had seen Agassi, shaken by his failed marriage to American actress Brooke Shields, plummet to a world ranking of 141 and fail a doping test (which was later dropped by the authorities when he claimed to have ingested crystal meth accidentally) . By the time of the 1999 French Open, Agassi was back in the world's top 20 after close to 18 months spent finding his feet again,but he was not yet considered a serious contender for grand slams, least of all the French Open, which he had never won. But at Roland Garros that year, Agassi battled his way to the final - his first at a slam for almost four years. A win for the American would see him complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 29 and cap a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of two years before. He had twice been a losing finalist in Paris, but was odds on to finally claim the title against the unfancied Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, whose lowly ranking of 100 meant he only just made the cut for the tournament. Medvedev though had been in sensational form in Paris, taking out Pete Sampras and former champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the final. Ironically, it had been a chat with Agassi in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier that had inspired the turnaround. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi recalled how he had spotted Medvedev drinking alone in a Monte Carlo bar after another damaging defeat. The 24-year-old Medvedev told Agassi he was considering retiring - in his own words he was old and he couldn’t play "this f---ing game anymore." "How dare you," Agassi responded. "Here I am, 29, injured, divorced, and you’re [complaining] about being washed up at 24? Your future is bright." Buoyed by the pep talk and by his blossoming romance with German player Anke Huber (they have subsequently split), Medvedev was a new player in Paris and his feather-light drop shots and clinical backhands down the line took him all the way to the final. On the eve of the final, Agassi was racked by anxiety and shocked coach Brad Gilbert by necking a vodka from the hotel minibar to soothe his nerves. "He has my game," Agassi fretted. "I gave it to him. He even has my first name." Andre Agassi celebrates beating Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 French Open final By the time the players took to the court, Agassi was still tormented with self-doubt, and he lost the first set 6-1 in 19 humiliating minutes. The second was scarcely much better, as Medvedev prevailed 6-2, with Agassi later describing his performance in the opening stages as "embarrassing". Midway through the second set though, a rain delay forced the players off court and prompted Gilbert to shake some sense into Agassi. Gilbert opened a locker and slammed it shut, before unleashing a volley of criticism at his player, where he told Agassi exactly what he was doing wrong and that at the very least he had to "go down with both guns blazing". Agassi belatedly got the message, and in the third set hauled himself from off the canvas. Serving at 4-4, 30-15 he double faulted on consecutive points to hand Medvedev a break point that had he taken would have left him serving for the match. The American saved it with a drop volley, and from there did not look back, coming to the net more and taking his opponent's rhythm away from him. After 2 hours and 42 minutes, Agassi secured the victory when a Medvedev forehand sailed long. He dropped his racket instantly, turned to his box and after covering his face began to cry uncontrollably. "Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good," Agassi said. "But it does." Agassi had metamorphosed from hirsute teenager in denim shorts to balding elder statesman, and after his annus horribilis he had found the purest form of redemption. 5. Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 - 1985 final Sixteen years, 80 matches, and 60 finals. There has never been a rivalry like the one between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and there were few contests between the two as riveting as the 1985 French Open final. From 1974 to 1986, the two players duopolised the year-end world No 1 ranking, and had finished No 1 and No 2 in every year between 1982 and 1986. Between them they were the dominant forces in the sport, and by the time of the 1985 French Open final Evert had 16 singles slams to Navratilova's 12. Evert had initially dominated meetings between the two, winning 20 of their first 25 matches, but when they met at Roland Garros 22 years ago, Navratilova led the head to head 33-31 and was the world No 1. The stats though don't tell anything like the full story of a rivalry that in the public's eyes pitted the charming American girl next door in Evert against the rugged, outspoken Czechoslovakian outsider in Navratilova. Evert later said this perception was totally wrong, explaining that people would often approach her and say, "You know, I never liked that Martina. She's so tough. "I'd say, 'You know what? She's a kitten. She really is. I'm the hard one.' They'd say 'no, no, no - not you. You're so frail and feminine; we always felt sorry for you.' It was as if Martina became the bully to some people. And I was the person who could silence the bully." The pair were actually great friends and had played doubles together in the mid-1970s until Evert felt that doing so gave Navratilova too good a read on her game. Navratilova would never forget the kindness Evert and her mother had shown her when she was starting out on the lonely grind of professional tennis. Evert had always liked and admired Navratilova, and was among the first to defend her when she was outed as a lesbian by a New York newspaper in 1981. By the time of the 1985 French Open final, Navratilova, now 28, was at her formidable best and exercised a vice-like grip over the rest of the Tour - friends and foes. She was the current holder of all four of the slams and had won a staggering nine of the previous 13 majors. Evert, now 30, had won the other four and was the world No 2, but anyone playing against Navratilova at that time was a major underdog. Both players were in excellent form when they met in Paris. They had reached the final with contemptuous ease- neither had dropped a set, and Navratilova had dished out bagel sets to half of her opponents en route to meeting Evert. The final proved to be one of the high points in a rivalry that transcended sport. In 2 hours 40 minutes of relentless tension and drama, Evert eventually won out in three epic sets. She had led by a set and a break, and served for the match in the second set but Navratilova had clung on. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with Navratilova rushing to the net at every opportunity, and Evert doing all she could to find angles and lobs to outfox her opponent. In the final set, Navratilova missed four break points on her opponent's serve at 5-5 and then moments later found herself down championship point on her own serve. She saved it when Evert sent a lob just long, but it turned out to be a stay of execution as on the second one, the American somehow got to a Navratilova smash and screamed a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Evert later described the win as her "most satisfying", while reflecting on the pair's rivalry, Navratilova said: "We brought out the best in each other. It's almost not right to say who's better. If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it." 4. Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 - 1984 final In his 2002 autobiography Serious, John McEnroe openly admits that there are few events that haunt him as much as his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl. As McEnroe laments of the match: "Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, choker-in-chief, away from him." McEnroe, 25, entered the match in the form of his life, having begun 1984 with 42 straight wins. It was a record start to a year that stands to this day, and meant the American, who already had five majors to his name, was the red hot favourite to pick up his first French Open title. His opponent, the 24-year-old Czech Lendl was tennis's perennial bridesmaid. The nearly man, the choker. He had reached four slam finals and lost them all - an unwanted sequence since equalled by his former protege Andy Murray. It was little surprise then when McEnroe cruised through the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to leave Lendl staring at the prospect of losing his first five slam finals. Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time Fortunately for the Czech, McEnroe had one glaring weakness: his temperament. In a manner that Murray fans will identify with, McEnroe could become enraged by something seemingly innocuous. Early on in the third set, the whirring of a cameraman's headset set him off and soon after McEnroe was in full meltdown mode. He berated the cameraman for causing him to lose his focus, and all of a sudden he had lost the third set 6-4 and was up against a crowd now fiercely in favour of Lendl. Despite their taunting, McEnroe led 4-2 in the fourth, but his energy was being sapped by the burning French sun and Lendl roared back to pinch it 7-5 and take the match into a decider. From there the Czech grew in confidence and took the final set 7-5 as McEnroe grappled unsuccessfully with the inner demons that had taken hold. After the match, which had lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, McEnroe was so incandescent with rage at the crowd and himself that he refused to give an on-court interview. The defeat was one of just three losses in 85 matches for McEnroe that year and stung him more than almost any other setback in his career. After breaking his grand slam duck, Lendl ended his career with eight slams, one more than McEnroe. 3. Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, (3-7), 9-7​ - 2013 semi-final Nadal won 70 of his first 71 matches at Roland Garros, and surely none were as dramatic as the semi-final four years ago against his great rival Novak Djokovic, which is amazingly one of only two five-setters that the Spaniard has ever played at Roland Garros. Nadal was the tournament holder and seven-time French Open champion, but his ranking was down at No 4 after a horrible run of injuries. Djokovic, as the Australian Open champion and world No 1, was the man to beat, though Nadal's clay-court pedigree made the Spaniard the favourite in many people's eyes. The pair had met in the previous year's French Open, with Nadal winning in four sets, and 18 months earlier Djokovic had edged a bruising six-hour long epic in the Australian Open final. In total this was the 35th meeting between two players who had between them won 10 of the previous 12 majors. A great deal was expected of what was a de facto final - the winner was to face David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - and no-one on a broiling Paris afternoon was left disappointed. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal romped through the third 6-1, whipping that lasso-like forehand and not allowing Djokovic to settle into a rhythm. The Spaniard looked on course for a four-sets win but failed to serve out the match at 6-5 up, and after Djokovic nicked the tie-break, the players headed into a decider. As the temperature cranked up and the match headed for its fifth hour, Djokovic began to edge what was becoming a war of attrition, and grabbed an early break in the final set. The Serb held the break all the way to 4-3, but he made the grave error at deuce of unnecessarily touching the net after hitting a winning smash and thereby forefeited the point. Nadal broke back that game, and held his nerve to tough out the decider 9-7. The memories of losing that Melbourne final were still raw for Nadal, and he said afterwards: "I was ready for the fight and had a little bit of luck at 4-3. In Australia in 2012 it was similar but he won. Everybody knows Novak is a fighter. That's why this is a special sport. During [my] seven months out there were a lot of low moments but people supported me, made me work hard every day, and I want to thank them for that." Nadal cruised to his eighth title two days later by thumping David Ferrer in the final, while Djokovic would have to wait until 2016 before finally getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires. 2. Steffi Graf defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 - 1999 Final The 1999 final was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter that pitted the old against the new. Steffi Graf had dominated the women's Tour in the 1990s until injuries and the emergence of the 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis knocked her off her perch in 1997. A 16-year-old Hingis hoovered up three of the four slams that year to take the No 1 ranking from Graf, who by 1999 was 29 and playing in her final year on the Tour. Hingis had dismissed Graf as past her best a year earlier, and now the two came head to head in Paris for Graf's final match at Roland Garros. Hingis, 18, needed the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, and having won five grand slams in the previous couple of years, including the Australian Open that January, was the favourite to win the final. Graf for her part had not won a major since 1996 and had admitted she was mainly using the tournament as a way of improving her fitness ahead of one last crack at an eighth Wimbledon title. For the first set and a bit, Hingis was in control. She took the opener 6-4 and was up 2-0 when it all began to unravel. The French crowd were already heavily behind the five-time Roland Garros champion Graf when Hingis crossed tennis's equivalent of the Rubicon, by walking over to the other side of the court to dispute a forehand that was called out. Farewell Martina Hingis - a retrospective The whistles and cat-calls were deafening as the supporters reacted to what they saw as another example of Hingis's preening precocity. Hingis was so enraged that she called the tournament referee onto the court, all the while grinning disingenuously with increasingly simmering menace. It was little wonder that she had been nicknamed the "smiling assassin". Not only did Hingis not get the overrule she wanted, she was given a point penalty for crossing the net, and found herself down 30-0 in a game she felt she should have been 15-0 up in. The rest of the second set undulated with breaks for each player, before Hingis found herself serving for the match at 5-4 against not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also an increasingly vicious crowd. Graf broke back and took the set 7-5, before romping to a 5-2 lead in the decider. In an act of desperation, Hingis served under-arm when down match point, and the surprise tactic worked to keep her in the match. The crowd roared their disapproval, and when Hingis complained at their heckling Graf retorted: ''Can we just play tennis, O.K?" After Graf took the title on her second match point as the match clock showed 2 hours 25 minutes, Hingis left the court and had to be led back on in tears by her mother Melanie Molitor. When asked about the crowd afterwards, Hingis admitted that ''I let it get to me.'' She pledged to not stop until she had won the French Open, but was never able to get her hands on the title or reach another Paris final. Graf made good on her promise to retire at the end of the year, and the 1999 French Open would turn out to be her 22nd and final grand slam singles title. 1. Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - 1989 Fourth Round As well as being one of the most extraordinary matches in the history of tennis, Michael Chang's 1989 French Open fourth-round match against Ivan Lendl also featured one of its most memorable moments. Leading 4-3 in the final set but down 15-30 and suffering severe cramps, Chang took the almost unprecedented step of serving under-arm. The reaction from everyone on the Philippe Chatrier court is sensational. The commentator laughs in disbelief and shouts "extraordinaire...ooh la la!" as the crowd cover their mouths in astonishment at what they have just seen. The former American player Todd Martin later described Chang's underhand serve as "the last stone that felled Goliath". The tactic flummoxed Lendl, and Chang won the point and the match two games later. It was a fitting end to a remarkable match that had seen the world No 1 and three-time French Open champion Lendl upset by the 17-year-old naturalised American who was playing for only the second time at Roland Garros. Lendl by contrast was the reigning Australian Open champion, the world's No 1 for almost all of the previous three years and a seven-time major winner. A baseline behemoth, Lendl had not dropped a set all tournament and looked set for a seventh straight French Open quarter-final when he took a two sets to love lead against Chang. Chang though had also been in excellent form in the tournament, winning his previous nine sets for the loss of 17 games, and despite his tender years he did already have some pedigree. He was the 15th seed at the tournament and had won an ATP Tournament the year before in San Francisco. Against Lendl, he was given additional motivation by the possibility of bringing hope to his homeland of China. Only a day earlier, Chang had spent the day glued to television screens horrified at images of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He later admitted that: "What [the Lendl match] was really about was an opportunity to bring a smile upon Chinese people's faces around the world when there wasn't a whole lot to smile about. I honestly feel that that was God's purpose for allowing me to be able to get through those matches." From two sets to love down, Chang started to frustrated his illustrious opponent. After the 17-year-old had taken the third set with a beguiling mix of awkward spins and angles, Lendl began to rage at the conditions and what he perceived to be bad line calls. His anger cost him a penalty point and a game in the fourth set. But when severe cramps struck Chang in the fourth set, a victory for Lendl looked a formality. Still, his opponent would not go away though, employing a befuddling tactic of slow, arcing moonballs that drove Lendl to distraction and saw Chang take the fourth set 6-3. Into a decider, and the pain became too much for Chang. In the third game of the set, he could not move and had resorted to guzzling water and consuming bananas at an alarming rate. He could not even sit down at change of ends, such was the all-consuming pain of the cramp he was suffering. At 2-1 up he walked to the service box to retire from the match, but at that point he claims to have benefitted from divine intervention. He later recalled: "When I got to the service line, I got an unbelievable conviction of heart. Looking back, I really feel like it was the Lord kind of telling me: 'Michael, what do you think you're doing here?' If I quit once, the second, third, fourth or fifth time that I am faced with that kind of circumstance, that kind of difficulty, I'm going to quit again." Four games later, Chang employed the under-arm serve trick as one last throw of the dice. He remembers: "At 15-30, spur of the moment, I was just like, I'm going to throw an underhand serve in here, cause I'm not doing anything off my first serve anyways. Let's see if maybe I can scrape a point. I hit the underhand serve, Ivan was kind of surprised about it, moved, kind of got squeezed in because of the spin and had to come in because the serve was so short. I hit a passing shot, clipped the tape and it went off the top of his racket and the crowd went absolutely nuts." In the final game, there was time for one last party piece as Chang slowly walked forward to the service line on match point as Lendl prepared to serve. It drew a double fault, and Chang has somehow done it. After four hours and 37 minutes of the most excruciating competition, Chang had completed the equivalent of a tennis ultra-marathon and defeated the world No 1. He went on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final as he claimed his one and only grand slam title.
FILE - In this May 20, 2018, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal sprays sparkling wine as he celebrates defeating Germany's Alexander Zverev in the final match of the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Nadal is 79-2 for his career in the French Open, a .975 winning percentage. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
Fendrich on Tennis: Savor Nadal's bid for 11th French title
FILE - In this May 20, 2018, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal sprays sparkling wine as he celebrates defeating Germany's Alexander Zverev in the final match of the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Nadal is 79-2 for his career in the French Open, a .975 winning percentage. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
FILE - In this June 5, 2005, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal kisses the trophy after defeating Argentina's Mariano Puerta in their final match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris. Even as his 32nd birthday approaches, Nadal is as dominant a figure as anyone ever has been on any surface in tennis.(AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
Fendrich on Tennis: Savor Nadal's bid for 11th French title
FILE - In this June 5, 2005, file photo, Spain's Rafael Nadal kisses the trophy after defeating Argentina's Mariano Puerta in their final match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris. Even as his 32nd birthday approaches, Nadal is as dominant a figure as anyone ever has been on any surface in tennis.(AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

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