Day 7 Diary: Altmaier introduces himself to Grand Slam stage

 - Simon Cambers

Here's a look at some things you may have missed in Paris on Saturday.

Daniel Altamier, Roland-Garros 2020, 3e tour©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Day 7 at Roland-Garros started with an upset, courtesy of Daniel Altmaier, who shocked seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini, and ended with an upset, thanks to Danielle Collins' three-set win over No.11 seed Garbine Muguruza.

Here's a look at some things you may have missed in Paris on Saturday...

Meet Daniel Altmaier

If you don’t know much about Daniel Altmaier, you’re not alone. But the German has been making a name for himself at this year’s Roland-Garros and on Saturday, he produced the win of his life as he beat seventh seed Matteo Berrettini 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

The 22-year-old has been through the mill, physically, with a number of injuries over the past few years and had never even played a Grand Slam match before arriving in Paris. After beating Berrettini, he was interviewed by former player Fabrice Santoro and his character came shining through.

"First of all it's nice to meet you,” he told Santoro. "First time here, first time playing here in Paris, it means a lot to me. I'm happy to be in the fourth round and the tournament continues for me."

Having qualified for the main draw, he’s taken full advantage of his opportunity and on Saturday, he channelled his inner Stanimal, shouting “allez” to encourage himself.

"'Allez' is coming a little bit from my idol Stan Wawrinka,” Altmaier said. “When I was watching him, he always say, 'Allez, Stan.' I a little bit copy because I like it to say, 'Allez, Dan'. That's little bit the connection.”


Daniel Altmaier, Roland Garros 2020, third round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

At the end of his match with Berrettini, he put a finger to his head, Wawrinka-style and said the Swiss had been a big help to him when he was going through his injury problems.

“I look up to him,” he said. “I look up the way he plays tennis. I think I was able to put a great performance on. I'm very thankful for him because he helped me a lot also through my injuries. Probably he is a huge help why I'm healthy at the moment.”

Berrettini, meanwhile, cut rather a sad figure, admitting he’d had a bad day all round.

“Pretty upset,” he said. “I was really feeling bad on the court. I'm feeling bad now. Didn't play well in the big stage. It's painful. But I guess that's tennis. I was struggling to find the right attitude, the right energy. I was nervous. When I tried to calm down, I was too calm. I was struggling every single aspect of the game.

“Sometimes you lose and you see the light. Today I was losing, and I was seeing everything dark.”

Matte Berrettini, Roland Garros 2020, third round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

Impressive Djokovic gives the roof some love

The new roof over Court Philippe-Chatrier has been a big hit with everyone at Roland-Garros this year, including, it seems, Novak Djokovic. The world No 1 had no trouble with Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia, cruising to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 victory but was keen for the roof to be closed from very early on, conscious, perhaps, that the rain was coming. He was right, of course; the rain did come, the roof was closed and he went on to dominate the match as he marched into the last 16.

Djokovic, as you might imagine, was delighted with another confident performance. “It was good. I am happy, I was solid, aggressive. I enjoyed it and I hope you enjoyed it too.”

Novak Djokovic© Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

History-maker Jabeur joins 'Team Tsitsipas'

Former junior champion Ons Jabeur is no stranger to making history and the Tunisian set another notable landmark on Saturday as she became the first Arab woman ever – and the first Tunisian woman or man - to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros thanks to a 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-3 victory over the No.8 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Entering her post-match press conference, the 26-year-old was wearing a mask with the face of Stefanos Tsitsipas, just like the one worn by the Greek’s father, Apostolos, at this year’s Roland-Garros.

“It's Tsitsipas,” she said. “I asked for it. He was like, ‘No way you're going to wear it’. I said, 'Of course, I'm going to wear it. I'm Team Tsitsipas'.”

Jabeur plays Danielle Collins next.

Pressure on Korda to deliver – nice presents for his sisters!

Sebastian Korda has been cruising through the draw on his Roland-Garros debut and on Sunday, the son of former Roland-Garros finalist and Australian Open champion Petr Korda will play Rafael Nadal for a place in the quarter-finals.

The 12-time Paris champion will be favourite but Korda will be under pressure, too, after a fun message from his golf pro sisters, Jessica and Nelly, who are clearly well aware that their brother is already guaranteed 189,000 for reaching the fourth round.

Walking in Li Na's footsteps

It’s nine years since Li Na won the Roland-Garros title. She made the fourth round in Paris the following year, and since then, no Chinese player has made it to the second week of the tournament. Until now, that is.

Zhang Shuai became the first player from China to reach the fourth round here since Li Na in 2012 as she beat Clara Burel 7-6(2), 7-5 to book her place in the last 16. Not bad, considering she arrived in Paris low on confidence.

“Before the Strasbourg (tournament) I didn't win matches (in) Cincinnati, US Open,” she said. “I played not really well. I (was) feeling a little bit down. I'm feeling like, feeling so tough to win the match. I don't know how to win the match. How can (I) play at (Roland-Garros), even? I'm not really good on clay.

“So we just keep working hard every day. Try to (do) some(thing) different. Yeah, like you saw, at match, most of time can try to coming to the net, can finish the point, yeah. I'm very happy I make the fourth round right now. First time, yeah.”

Zhang Shuai, Roland Garros 2020, third round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Patriotic duty

Nicolas Massu has been doing a grand job as the coach of Dominic Thiem but clearly the Austrian’s success means that he is able to take a few hours off here and there. On Saturday, the former Olympic champion was out supporting his compatriot Cristian Garin in his third-round match against Karen Khachanov. His magic didn’t quite transfer to the young Chilean, though, as he bowed out in four sets to the Russian.

Playing on instinct

It’s one of the golden rules of tennis; hit your shot and get yourself back to the middle of the court quick-smart. Usually, though, it’s a good idea to you’re keep your racquet in hand when you’re doing it, as Leylah Fernandez found to her cost against Petra Kvitova in round three on Saturday.

Chasing a ball to her backhand, the racquet slipped from the 18-year-old’s hands but instinct kicked in and instead of trying to pick it up, Fernandez’s legs took her back toward the middle of the baseline before reality kicked in.  

The Canadian gave Kvitova a real fright, leading the two-time Wimbledon champion 5-1 and holding two set points before the Czech turned it round to snatch the first set and then ease through the second to take her place in round four, where she will play Zhang.

“I'm really glad that I can play her,” Kvitova said. “She's really one of the nicest persons here. Always says hi, always smiling, everything. I really like her. That's nice. I'm really happy that we can meet each other in the second week of the Grand Slams. That's perfect.”