What did Roland-Garros teach us for the summer?

 - Alex Sharp

Roland-Garros 2019 was a thrilling fortnight. What did we learn in Paris?

Rafael Nadal laughing during the trophy presentation Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Confidence coursing through Nadal

The preparation was far from ideal but the ‘King of Clay’ returned to his throne on Court Philippe-Chatrier with a 12th Roland-Garros title.

The Spaniard surrendered just two sets all fortnight and such commanding displays puts Nadal on course for another successful stint at SW19.

The 33-year-old, champion in 2008 and 2010, relishes the challenge of transferring from the terre battue to the luscious lawns of London.

“I know I played a great event last year,” declared Nadal, reflecting on a captivating five-set semi-final epic with Novak Djokovic. “I have been able to be very close to win another title there. As everybody knows, I love to play on grass.”

His serve packed plenty of punch in Paris and the net play was exemplary. Get ready for another tilt at the title for Rafa.

Ashleigh Barty smiling and chatting with Rod Laver at Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Barty paving the path for variety

The modern era has been fiercely dominated by power play – booming serves and rocket groundstrokes from beyond the baseline.

Well, Ash Barty’s absorbing title triumph in Paris proved variety and versatility has a prominent place in the sport.

The amiable Australian’s slicing, dicing and all-court creativity nullified the armoury of all seven opponents at Roland-Garros.

Fellow finalist Marketa Vondrousova also holds a vast array of shots and offers up a promising future vision for women’s tennis.

Should they manage expectations, both Barty and Vondrousova will be a threat on the grass with an ability to deflect the firepower of opponents, combined with smooth transition play towards the net.


Karen Khachanov similing at Roland-Garros 2019©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Outsider hopes boosted

It’s not just Barty who blossomed at Roland-Garros.

Johanna Konta provided an abundance of hope for the ‘outsiders’ away from the key contenders.

The rejuvenated Brit played with grit, purpose and poise to soar into a maiden Roland-Garros semi-final.

Similarly, Next Gen Russian Karen Khachanov was rewarded with a debut in the Top 10 with a quarter-final ticket in Paris.

The 23-year-old ousted Juan Martin Del Potro on Court Suzanne-Lenglen in the fourth round and must be eager to prosper on the grass. The likes of Khachanov are ensuring the main contenders can never have an off day.

Barty has proven you don’t have to be a ‘favourite’ to be hailed champion.

Dominic Thiem wawing to the crowd ahead of the trophy presentation Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Thiem’s talent adaptable to all surfaces

It’s very easy to forget Dominic Thiem is only 25-years-old.

The world No.4 has now made consecutive final appearances at Roland-Garros, enhancing his status as a future ruler of Paris.

The Austrian’s court coverage was simply outrageous over the two weeks and he appears more robust physically than ever before.

Ending world No.1 Novak Djokovic’s quest for a second ‘Nole Slam’ demonstrated a rock-solid resilience that should propel Thiem to further finals in 2019.

The last 16 in 2017 is a Wimbledon best for Thiem, who must use Roland-Garros as a springboard to go deep in the other Grand Slams.

In all-out attack, no one will want to face him at SW19.

Roger Federer Entrée de Rêve Roland-Garros 2019©Olivier Vigerie/FFT

Feel good factor for Federer

With 101 titles to his name, the pressure is officially off for Roger Federer.

The Swiss maestro returned to Roland-Garros following a three-year absence with consummate ease and was certainly satisfied by posting a semi-final.

Building on that momentum in Halle, Federer will arrive in London in fine fettle and match sharp. It’s a gigantic task for the chasing pack to outmanoeuvre the much-heralded triumvirate of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.

Nadal a champion, Federer playing with freedom and Djokovic out to reassert his dominance.

Amanda Anisimova fist pumping at Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Faith in youth ranks

Vondrousova’s majestic major breakout run spearheaded a series of pulsating performances by the Next Gen at Roland-Garros.

Stefanos Tsitsipas’ absolute thriller with Stan Wawinka was arguably the match of the tournament and his energetic brand of tennis will surely march deep into the Wimbledon draw.

Defending champion Simona Halep was swatted aside by American Amanda Anisimova in the quarter-finals.

Such composure and fearless striking are warning signs to the established guard. Roland-Garros proved the rising stars of the game aren’t content to wait around for their shot, they believe their time is now.