Day 4 Diary: Auger-Aliassime tips his hat to idol Tsonga

Ninth seed admits accepting retirement won't come easy when the time arises

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Philippe Montigny/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Felix Auger-Aliassime may still be a spritely 21 but has already cast a thought to his own tennis mortality.

The Canadian ninth seed breezed past Camilo Ugo Carabelli 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in second-round action on Wednesday to keep his Roland-Garros campaign on track, a day after one of his idols, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, departed Court Philippe-Chatrier one last time.

“It was really emotional. I was watching at home, and I was getting tears in my eyes pretty much, because it's crazy to see players that you admire growing up retiring,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I feel like I'm going to feel the same when the best of the best players retire, Rafa and Roger and Novak.

“It's a weird feeling because I can in a way relate to that and put myself in that position where like one day I'm going to play my last match, my last game, my last point. When it gets to that point, it's really emotional.”

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Auger-Aliassime said he hoped the Frenchman stayed around tennis in some capacity, following the former world No.5’s exit in the opening round to eighth seed Casper Ruud.

“You think back probably of since you were a kid, like you are always looking forward to another match and to another opportunity, to future goals and to see this all ending and think like I'm never going to play another tennis match again when it's been your life for more than 20 years, like Jo, for example,” he said.

Auger-Aliassime could meet 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round should both keep their respective tournaments alive, but would first need to get past Filip Krajinovic.

Sasnovich sinks US Open champ again

Aliaksandra Sasnovich was the first player Emma Raducanu faced as a Grand Slam champion in the opening round at Indian Wells last October.

That contest went the way of the Belarusian and on Wednesday, the 28-year-old made it two from two when she sent the British 12th seed packing, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

The 28-year-old had found form again on Australian hard-courts when she reached the Melbourne Summer Set 2 final in January, but revealed it had been a less than ideal preparation for the year’s second major.

“Honestly, I had Covid a few months ago so I didn't prepare for the clay season,” Sasnovich said.

Not a bad day at the office for a player coming in cold.

The world No.47 next meets three-time major champion Angelique Kerber, a player she fell to in three sets last week in Strasbourg.

Raducanu will return to the UK where she will switch her focus to her second Wimbledon campaign and a first taste of playing before a home crowd as a major champion.

“I would say that I'm at this level, but there are definitely aspects of my game that need to improve and kind of catch up to where my current ranking or whatever is,” she said.

“Certain things I'm working on the practice court that are paying off, they don't show immediately.”

Emma Raducanu, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Muchova edges fourth seed

Greek Maria Sakkari was the highest remaining seed left standing in the bottom half of the draw after the opening round, but joined the seeded causality list on Wednesday, thanks to Karolina Muchova’s 7-6(5), 7-6(4) win.

After dethroning Iga Swiatek to reach her maiden Slam semi-final last year, the fourth seed was favoured to advance at least as far again but ran into a resurgent Muchova, a semi-finalist at last year’s Australian Open.

Having missed six months of last season due to an abdominal injury, it was a welcome return for the 25-year-old, who admitted she did not look within Czech ranks for idols growing up.

“That's tough to say because I was not so much into tennis when I was a kid,” she said. “When I was older I was going for Federer, as everyone was – Federer, Nadal and all these amazing players.”

Simon not bidding adieu yet

Former world No.6 Gilles Simon admitted good friend and Davis Cup team-mate Tsonga’s final appearance on Court Philippe-Chatrier was his inspiration as his kept his last campaign alive in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The 37-year-old rallied to hold snuff out 16th seed Pablo Carreno Busta’s comeback 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, a result it was fair to say came as quite the surprise to him.

“It was a crazy match, an unexpected win,” Simon said ahead of a second-round meeting with Steve Johnson. “I was more scared to be ridiculous today than hoping I would win this match.”

Gilles Simon / Premier tour Roland-Garros 2022©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Kerber racks up a first

Roland-Garros remains the only major former world No.1 Angelique Kerber has never added to her collection.

After the German captured her 14th career title at Strasbourg leading in, she continued her winning ways in France on Wednesday with a 6-1, 7-6(2) victory over home hope and 2020 junior champion Elsa Jacquemot.

It marks the first time Kerber has claimed seven straight matches on European red clay.

“You know, I have it inside of me,” Kerber said. “If it's coming out of me, I playing always my best tennis, because I really want it.

“Last week gives me again a lot of confidence, so I just try to take it with me. But of course, I mean, you're getting older, you have to fight so much more against the young players.”

The 19-year-old Jacqeumot could barely believe the reception from her home crowd, having won the girls’ singles title before a mere handful of fans during the height of the Covid pandemic.

“Before coming here I had a kid who showed me a photo of her and myself just one year ago, so one year ago at Roland-Garros,” she said. “And it really moved me because I could see the progression in one year.

“And I must say that I didn't think that I was going to play on Phillip-Chatrier, I didn't think I would have this experience in one year's time.”

Elsa Jacquemot, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Stat of the day

Rafael Nadal's straight-sets victory under lights over Frenchman Corentin Moutet was his 300th Grand Slam match win.

With his defeat of Alex Molcan, Novak Djokovic took his Roland-Garros tally to 83 match wins, the most he has won at any of the four majors. The world No.1 currently owns 82 match wins at the Australian Open, 81 at the US Open and 79 at Wimbledon.