Au revoir, Roland Garros — Quotes from Iga Swiatek and more

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, June 11, 2024

Howdy, y’all, and happy Tennis Tuesday! I’ll say it for everyone — Praise Beyonce the clay court season is over and we’re heading to grass. However, we still have to formally say “adieu” to the red clay and Roland Garros with my own Parting Thoughts a la Jon Wertheim! I admit, I go back and forth if the dominance of Iga Swiatek is a good thing for the women’s game.

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Of course, I’m a hypocrite as I was totally fine with Serena Williams knocking the lights out of everyone and was fine when Ashleigh Barty was chopping up players left and right. However, it’s still impressive how the World No. 1 captured her third Roland Garros title in a row and fourth in five years with a destruction over Jasmine Paolini in the final. The Pole only lost one match throughout the clay court swing and currently carries a 19-match winning streak — only dropping three sets en route.

What a tournament for Paolini. She continues to build on her career-best season and leaves Paris a Grand Slam finalist — in singles AND doubles — and a Top 10 singles debut.

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Remember last week when I said Aryna Sabalenka would pretty much waltz into the final? Oops! Mirra Andreeva must’ve read and said “not today” to reach her first WTA — WTA, not just Grand Slam — semifinal. She was the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in 27 years, but the moment clearly got to the Russian, who bowed out quickly to Paolini.

Just days before the tournament began, Taylor Townsend rolled her ankle in Rabat and had to withdraw from Roland Garros, leaving Katerina Siniakova without a doubles partner. A quick, last-minute pairing with Coco Gauff proved faithful as they emerged champions in their first time playing together with a win over Paolini and Sara Errani.

Speaking of last-minute, you couldn’t get any closer than Laura Siegemund and Edouard Roger-Vasselin teaming up for the mixed competition. Two hours before the sign-in ended, they decided to team up and left with the trophy, knocking out Desirae Krawczyk and Neal Skupski.

Tereza Valentova won an all-Czech battle to take the junior singles title over Laura Samson, while she also took home the doubles crown with Renata Jamrichova by defeating Tyra Grant and Iva Jovic.

Many wonder what if Naomi Osaka had converted her match point against Iga Swiatek in the second round. Sure, the match was worthy of a final and a shame that they had to play so early in the tournament, but I think we’re going to see very productive grass and hardcourt seasons from the former World No. 1. She’s playing extremely good ball and I wouldn’t be surprised if she peaks just in time for her favorite time of year.

It was cute to see Chris Evert hand the trophy to Swiatek on the 50th anniversary of her first Roland Garros title. Though, it was even cuter that she made Martina Navratilova join her in the process.

From sparse crowds to women not getting a single night session match, Amelie Mauresmo needs to go back to the drawing board to ensure better equity for the female players, as well as fans.

On to links!

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

The big WTA news of the week was the appointment of Portia Archer as the tour’s new CEO. I’m excited for this move but I’m very hesitant because she will be reporting to outgoing CEO Steve Simon.

Katie Volynets and Anna Todini won the biggest title of their careers at the WTA 125 events in Makarska and Bari, respectively. In Bari, Anna Danilina and Irina Khromacheva beat Angelica Moratelli and Renata Zarazua to take the doubles crown, while Sabrina Santamaria and Iryna Shymanovich outlasted Nao Hibino and Oksana Kalashnikova in Markarska.

Sloane Stephens was announced as an executive producer with Uninterrupted for an upcoming Amazon four-episode docuseries “Top Class” following four junior tennis players leading up to the 2022 Orange Bowl tournament.

Three years after she first made headlines in the grass court swing, Emma Raducanu continues her comeback from multiple injuries and surgeries.

This ranking cycle was the final deadline for the Olympic Games and the unfortunate news is that African Games gold medalist Angella Okutoyi didn’t reach the Top 400 to seal her berth. It was also announced that Danka Kovinic will receive one of the ITF’s Universality spots in Paris.

The final list of Division I All-Americans was released this past week with NCAA champions Alexa Noel and Dasha Vidmanova/Aysegul Mert headlining the honorees.

Don’t expect them to play by receiving main draw wildcards, but both Caroline Wozniacki and Emma Raducanu have entered to play in the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon.

She won’t be able to defend her gold medal due to maternity leave, but Belinda Bencic teased her pending return with a quick tweet from the practice court.

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Tweet of the Week

Though she lost in the second round, Danielle Collins opened up about the struggles she’s faced while playing the insane tennis she’s produced the last few months:

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Five at The IX: Roland Garros Week 2

Q. Congrats. You’ve talked a lot about how your first win here was so unexpected and changed everything. Now that you’ve done it four times, how has your experience helped you in these difficult moments, like, Naomi match and also you mentioned the stress before this match?

IGA SWIATEK: Well, for sure I have plenty of experiences where, I don’t know, I felt stress or I knew that this match is going to be really important and a high-pressure match. But I was able to manage it, and then you can just use it when you have next situations like that.

Because it’s not like, oh, it’s my fifth Grand Slam final, I’ll have no stress, you know, because of that. Usually it doesn’t work like that. Yeah, so for sure the experience helps.

It’s kind of easier to do it as an underdog, I would say. But, you know, gives me even more positive feelings that I manage everything properly.

Q. Can you just tell a bit more about the story of you guys deciding two hours before the deadline to join forces. You had a great run obviously, and you showed great chemistry, but I’ve been stunned to hear that it happened two hours before the deadline.

LAURA SIEGEMUND: You can say what your situation was. Mine was simple: I just want to play (smiling).

EDOUARD ROGER-VASSELIN: Yeah, I was supposed to play with the French girl to maybe, you know, have some matches to prepare the Olympics. Didn’t work out for many reason. I will not go with the details. But yeah, like, two days before I had nobody. Then I was trying to get some also other French girls to play with me, and they were all set.

Yeah, the last day, I had no one. Then, yeah, just remember that, okay, Laura, I check the list, I didn’t see you on the list. I was, like, okay, just give it a try. I mean, we spoke many times also in the past. I was, like, okay, let’s see, maybe she doesn’t want to play, maybe she’s already set. Too bad for me. Yeah. Here we are (smiling).

LAURA SIEGEMUND: Yeah, and for me, I thought it’s difficult, because I play singles and doubles and mixed. It’s a lot. But then I played on Sunday early, and I lost. Because, you know, usually I don’t like to do the last-minute things, because, yeah, with the ranking that I have and the players I’m looking for to pair up with, you want to kind of really talk in advance.

It was difficult because I couldn’t say if I will really play. Just my singles schedule playing already on Sunday, I knew, okay, I’m out of that. But then that last minute is not easy to find good players. No disrespect, also someone with 40, 50, is a great player. But I’m looking for someone who I can go really far with in the tournament. And there was nobody there anymore.

Then I was, like, okay, yeah, I’m just not going to sign up then. Because just to participate, then I really want to focus on the doubles.

Then he texted me literally two hours before. I was like, okay, that’s really the kind of player I’m absolutely looking for. And then we had many times I wanted to play really bad with him, and he was set already or some other situation.

Then I was, like, okay, I cannot say no to this. I’m really happy that I decided to say yes. (Laughter.)


Q. You said a couple of days ago that you dream step by step, which is a really interesting insight. You’ve reached a Grand Slam final now, world No. 7. What’s the next dream?

JASMINE PAOLINI: I don’t know. At the moment, I don’t know (smiling).

No, you know, I think that my goal right now is to try to keep this level, to let’s say play against Iga one more time. I don’t know where. It can be second round, can be first round. I don’t care.

I think to play against her can give me something to add things to my game. You know, it’s challenging, but the same time, I can understand more what I have to improve, what I have to add to my game.

So I am enjoying the moment. As I said, I love to play at this level with those players. I played Rybakina, which is world No. 4. I played Iga, which is World No. 1.

I don’t know where the future can bring me. I don’t know which one is my next dream. But, you know, I’m enjoying the moment, I’m in the present, and I think it’s nice to discover, you know, step by step, yeah.

Q. It’s a great launchpad for the Olympics. How do you see the challenge of going from here to grass at Wimbledon and then back to clay here?

KATERINA SINIAKOVA: It’s definitely big challenge. I mean, the schedule is really busy, really tough, but that’s what it is.

I think everyones want to be here for Olympics. It’s here in Paris, it’s amazing, like, atmosphere, court. So definitely it will be really tough, but everyone wants to do it. So I think we just keep it up.

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, I think for me the grass to clay will be an easier transition than clay to grass, which is what we’re used to.

Yeah, it’s going to be tough. But like she said, everybody is doing it, and you know it only happens once every four years. It’s just something you have to push through and you can think about your goals. The Olympics aren’t mandatory, so if you don’t want to play you don’t have to. I know we both want to play.

So we’re going to try our best to deal with the circumstances we have.

Q. Can you tell us more the difference between pro tour and junior tour? What’s the main difference? Was it easy with the great form you had on the pro tour to switch from junior tournament?

TEREZA VALENTOVA: No, it’s not easy at all. I think it’s just tennis. Like, I’m just playing, and I wanted to try the best on the court and give it all.

But I think the difference is that the woman’s doesn’t have, like, more up-and-downs. Yeah, they sometimes have it, but not at all like the juniors. So I think this is the big difference.

Like when you’re leading in the woman’s or, like, losing, it’s not like the chance more, like, to come back. But in the juniors more, but it depends on the player. Just, yeah, you’re playing about the money. So I think it can be the difference also.

Yeah, it’s just tennis. I’m just playing.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon