French Open Diary — Disconcerting Ease
Alison Riske is an excellent tennis player. Let there be no doubt.
The 31-year-old Atlanta resident has amassed over $5.5M in career winnings and has three WTA titles to accompany her quarterfinal run at Wimbledon in 2019 and 4th round trips at the US Open and Australian Open.
Riske is one of the best in the world at what she does and yet on Thursday it didn’t matter. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how good you are at the moment: Iga Swiatek is going to beat you.
Make that 30 consecutive match wins for the Polish superstar. When Swiatek’s opponents avoid ignominious feats like being double bageled they are enthusiastically applauded. Riske’s smile when the crowd greeted a long awaited game point at 0-6, 0-3 with cheers said it all.
Swiatek has bageled her opponents 15 times already this season. 15! It’s god damn May. The record for a season is 25, set by Serena Williams in 2013. Only Margaret Court, Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf have a better win percentage at Roland Garros than the 20-year-old. We’re in special territory, confirmed.
There’s the title win here, sure, but Swiatek is now battling greats from the past. Graf’s 1988 Golden Slam year is being mentioned, and it’s not ridiculous. That’s how great Iga has been in 2022.
Montenegro's Danka Kovinić is next and there’s potential for a spicy 4th round clash with Jelena Ostapenko, but I’ve learned my lesson. In the hopes of being ‘different’ or ‘cool,’ I picked against Swiatek here. Hot streaks end. We’ve seen it before.
This one will end too, but only after Swiatek has completely taken over the game. There’s her and everyone else, and though the Serena era wasn’t long ago, it did feel like there would be some gap before we reached this point again. Henin, Venus, and the aforementioned Williams are next in the longest win streak count. I think she’s gonna do it.
Carlos Alcaraz is doing those things the greats do when it looks EXTREMELY bad for them. Wily countrymen Albert Ramos-Vinolas may have been the perfect foil on another day and he was a pretty great one for the majority of this 2nd round encounter but it wasn’t enough. Charlie found a way. As Giri Nathan points out, it’s a shame more couldn’t watch it.
You may be surprised to learn Daniil Medvedev is into the 3rd round without dropping a set, but Matt Willis rightfully says you shouldn’t be.
Hugo Gaston vs. Holger Rune. As if Hugo wasn’t beloved before…do this, king.
When I picked against Swiatek to win here, Jessica Pegula was a player I thought could seize the opportunity. Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina didn’t make it easy, but Pegula is into the 3rd round and plays 2021 semifinalist Tamara Zidanšek next. That should be great.
You know who else looks good? Aryna Sabalenka. You never know, right?