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Published: Tue, June 13, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

What The French Open Tells Us About Wimbledon

What The French Open Tells Us About Wimbledon

The French Open wrapped up over the weekend with two results that were equally exciting in completely opposite ways.

On the women’s side, unseeded Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko capped off a storybook run with her first Grand Slam title. After rallying to knock off Caroline Wozniacki in the semis, Ostapenko came back again after getting down early against Simona Halep, who’s in the running for the number one spot in Serena Williams' absence.

On the men’s side, nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal, the man almost universally regarded as the deadliest clay court player to ever live, went ahead and made it 10. He steamrolled up-and-comer Dominic Thiem (incidentally the only man to beat Nadal on clay in 2017) in the semis, and seemed to have an even easier time with three-time Slam champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the final. It was a return to glory that a lot of people had begun to believe they’d never see after Nadal declined sharply and rapidly due to numerous injuries and general inconsistency.

Between the 20-year-old newcomer in the women’s draw and the seasoned champion in the men’s, it was a pretty exciting finish for the French Open. But now the clay court season is behind us, and Wimbledon will be here in less than a month. So, what did the tournament at Roland-Garros tell us about what’s next? Really, we never know. But here are a few important takeaways.

The Women’s Draw Really Is Wide Open

With Serena missing time on tour due to her pregnancy, many noted that it was the biggest opportunity in years for pretty much everyone else in the WTP. That said, there were still favorites. Halep was always supposed to be in the running. And Angelique Kerber, who competed right alongside Williams for most of 2016, can’t be counted out as a potentially dominant figure (even if she’s had a slow start to this year). But the victory by Ostapenko seemed to prove that without Williams lording over the draw, anything can happen. That makes the rest of the year in women’s tennis particularly fascinating.

Roger Federer Looms

Federer skipped the clay court season, and it’s probably for the best. It’s always been his worst service, and the way Nadal played at the French Open, Federer almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to beat him there anyway. But the Swiss maestro was so excellent for the first few months of the season—including three wins over Nadal, and one in the Australian Open final—that his absence from the French Open sparked conversations about who to back. It sounds incredible to say it all these years after his prime, but Federer has been the best player in the ATP in 2017. Grass is his best surface, and Wimbledon his best Slam. He could be the favorite despite the fact we haven’t seen him in over a month.

Venus Williams Might Need Her Sister

About half way through the French, fans and analysts alike began to murmur that Venus Williams might have a shot at the title. She’s been very good for the past year or so, with Serena generally serving as her biggest obstacle. But now one has to wonder if Serena's absence isn’t actually good for Venus. It’s only one loss, but Venus went out a little earlier than expected, and it’s always been clear that the sisters motivate one another. It’ll be interesting to see how the elder Williams performs at Wimbledon. If she crashes out early, it’ll be fair to wonder if she’s missing the motivation provided by Serena dominating the sport.

Novak Djokovic Is Flirting With Disaster

The talk around Djokovic was fairly positive heading into the French, despite the dramatic drop-off in his play since last June. He seemed to be physically fit, he’d shaken up his team, and many believed that new coach Andre Agassi could get him winning again. But then he flamed out in one of the ugliest losses of his career in a Slam, receiving a straight sets beatdown at the hands of Dominic Thiem. Djokovic appears to be frustrated, dispirited, and at times almost apathetic. And while that’s fine for a few tournaments here and there, it’s been going on for the better part of a year. If he has another bad outcome at Wimbledon, it could be a full-fledged disaster for the former world number one.

Now, bring on the grass courts! Wimbledon is up for grabs on both the men’s and the women’s side, and it should be a very exciting tournament.

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