Early Exit for Greek at Roland Garros
Unfortunately, the Greek players competing at this year’s French Open didn’t last too long, as both main draw participants lost in the opening round. 18-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas and 21-year-old Maria Sakkari both put up good fights, but ultimately were unable to beat their older and higher ranked opponents.
After getting past three rounds of qualifying, the young Greek had earned his spot in the main draw. Being the youngest player in this year’s tournament, which happened to be his major debut, it was clear that he lacks experience. He was drawn to face 23rd seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, who at 38, ironically is the oldest player in the tournament.
The first set went to a tiebreaker, and despite an early 4-1 lead for Tsitsipas in that tiebreak, he was unable to hold on and eventually lost it 7-5. Karlovic went on to win the match in straight sets, 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-4. Despite the loss, Tsitsipas has a lot to be proud of, as he tried his best and was fighting until the very last point. He went down 4-1 in the third set and rallied back to make it 4-4, but could not manage to take the set in the end. Still, becoming the first Greek male player in the main draw of a major in nine years, and being the youngest player in the entire tournament are encouraging signs for the future.
Maria Sakkari was also competing in the main draw of Roland Garros for the first time. After having participated in all three of the other major tournaments already, she has now become just the third Greek tennis player (male or female) to compete in the main draw of all four majors, the other two being Christina Papadaki and Eleni Daniilidou.
Like Tsitsipas, Sakkari did not get a favorable draw. Her first round opponent was the 21st seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, a two-time quarterfinalist in Paris in the past. The two had previously met in the second round of the 2016 Australian Open, with the Spaniard winning in three sets.
This time, Sakkari got off to an amazing start as she raced out to a 4-1 lead in the first set. Sakkari was unable to maintain that lead, as the experienced clay court specialist from Spain was able to win five games in a row to take the set 6-4. In the second set, Suarez Navarro proved too strong for Sakkari as she won it 6-2.
Both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari should be very proud of their performances in Paris. Neither one of them had ever beaten a player ranked as highly as the opponents they had faced, so there is no shame in losing to these experienced veteran players.
The two will now return to their training bases. Tsitsipas will head to the south of France and Sakkari to Barcelona, as they have each recently moved abroad for better coaching and training facilities. In the subsequent weeks, they will play some warm-up tournaments for Wimbledon, where they will be competing once again. Sakkari has gained automatic entry into the main draw due to her top 100 ranking. Tsitsipas will compete again in the qualifying rounds, as will Valentini Grammatikopoulou, who was eliminated in the second qualifying round in Paris.
Also competing at the French Open this year was Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. He was eliminated in the first round by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, a three-time quarterfinalist in Paris. Almagro took the match in four sets, 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3 7-6(1). Like Sakkari, Baghdatis has also gained automatic entry into the main draw of Wimbledon next month.