Grand Slam draws: To peek or not to peek? - Roland Garros diary

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Tennis draws are always a hot topic at any tournament, especially at the Slams.

They are dissected and deliberated to no end, and most of the time, they never go according to (supposed) plan.

When it comes to the players, discussing draws is not always an easy task.

Draws are actually a polarizing topic for them, with some comfortable with the idea of talking about their possible opponents, and others strict believers in navigating a tournament in the dark.

Garbine Muguruza belongs to the latter group.

The Spanish two-time Grand Slam champion hates knowing who she is going to play next, let alone who she might play a couple of rounds down the line.

On Friday during her pre-tournament press conference, she claims she only found out she was playing Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round from a journalist’s question.

It may seem strange that a player doesn’t know who her next opponent is, because it sure sounds like an essential piece of information to prepare properly for a match.

Imagine if you’re playing a lefty, and you choose not to know and miss the opportunity of practicing with a southpaw before the match? Or as one friend pointed out, if you’re going to play Monica Niculescu then step on court and realise you’re going to get attacked by every slice and drop shot in the book but you weren’t ready for it.

Journalists get assigned to write match previews and it gets harder to do that when a player refuses to discuss their next opponent – which happens more often than you think.

But while there are many players like Muguruza, who prefer to focus on themselves rather than the person across from the net, there are others who don’t shy away from peeking ahead.

In Madrid, I had asked Maria Sharapova if she was aware of the fact that she could snag a last-minute seeding at Roland Garros if she does well in the Spanish capital and the subsequent tournament in Rome. I wondered if she’d prefer not knowing that so she doesn’t put pressure on herself, or get carried away looking too far ahead. I asked that because historically, many players have given me such reasons for similar questions.

Not Sharapova though.

“I’m not afraid to be aware of it. I don’t really mind. I’m not someone that doesn’t look at the draw or doesn’t want to see who they’re playing. That’s never really bothered me. You’re going to have to face someone in the next round, whoever it is,” said Sharapova.

Dominic Thiem, the No. 7 seed in Paris, is someone who certainly does his homework.

He was quoted by German journalist René Denfeld as saying: “I’ve got a tough draw, but it’s never easy here.”

When asked if he was aware of his possible fourth round or quarter-final opponents, he replied: “I know the full draw, not just my sector – possible round of 16s etc. It’s interesting and I like to take a good look at it.”

Somehow that makes more sense to me, but hey, to each their own.

UPSET OF THE DAY

Kateryna Kozlova def. Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-3

A section of the draw lost three of its top four seeds as fifth-seeded Ostapenko, ninth-seeded Venus Williams and 22nd-seeded Johanna Konta all crashed out on opening Sunday.

But defending champion Ostapenko’s loss has got to be the biggest surprise of the day as the Latvian fell to 66th-ranked Kozlova, who hadn’t played a match since Indian Wells and was sidelined for two months with a knee injury.

STATS OF THE DAY

6 – Ostapenko is the sixth women’s singles defending champion at a major to lose in the first round of their title defence, joining Steffi Graf (1994 Wimbledon), Jennifer Capriati (2003 Australian Open), Anastasia Myskina (2005 Roland Garros), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2005 US Open) and Angelique Kerber (2017 US Open).

22 – years since an Egyptian had last competed in a Grand Slam main draw. Mohamed Safwat ended that drought for his nation on Sunday as he got in as a lucky loser to face Grigor Dimitrov.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

“I’m really disappointed and so angry. I mean, I’m, just, like really angry and I just want to turn back the time.”

– Jelena Ostapenko is not hiding her feelings about her opening round defeat on Sunday.

“Yes, I’m going to be careful. I won’t go to a discotheque until 6:00 am.; I will go home at 4:00 am.”

– French teen Corentin Moutet jokes when asked what he’ll do from now until his next match, which is in three days’ time on Wednesday.

“Even as a human being I’m going through difficult times, but this will be finished soon for many reasons that I could explain, this is going to end. And I guess that after Roland Garros I’ll have to challenge myself to change things and to start some special work. I’m here. Unfortunately I’m hitting the ball right but my mental is not there. My mind isn’t in the right place.”

– Frenchman Gael Monfils is apparently going through something. We’re not sure what it is.

“Go home and come back…”

– Elina Svitolina said this with a laugh when asked how she’ll spend her next couple of days before her next match on Wednesday.

“Well, I mean, I guess that’s what keeps them guessing. But I’ve had some pretty good results, so it works for me. Every person is different and what may work for me may not work for the next person, and that’s totally fine. Everyone has their own way of doing things. So I like me, I like the way I do things, and I just stick with that because I feel best that way.”

– Sloane Stephens when asked if the fact that she doesn’t show much emotion on court is why she was described by Chris Evert as not having enough fire.

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