The worst Roland Garros ever: tennis without Big 3 is depressing, still...

Controversies, autumn weather, undisciplined crowd and little entertainment: a passing Slam

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The worst Roland Garros ever: tennis without Big 3 is depressing, still...
© Clive Mason / Staff Getty Images Sport

One word sums up the Roland Garros 2024: demodè. There were some emotions, but in general I feel like saying that the 2024 edition of the Roland Garros was one of the worst ever, especially as regards the men's tournament. For several reasons. The first is now becoming a constant in the Parisian Fortnight and concerns the weather.

In the first week we all saw what happened. Incessant rain and few matches, all obviously under the retractable roofs of the Philippe Chatrier and the Suzanne Lenglen. This generated a wave of protests from many tennis players, who saw their matches first delayed and then postponed. Or they ended up late at night. Crazy stuff, for a tournament like the French Open. There was a lot of controversy about this against the tournament board. Furthermore, the courts were hit hard by the weather conditions.

Roland Garros
Roland Garros© Dan Istitene / Staff Getty Images Sport
 

Novak Djokovic finished his match against Lorenzo Musetti after 3 am local time, in the 5th set. A treatment without logic towards the Serbian champion. Subsequently, Djokovic beat the Argentine Cerundolo in five sets and after four and a half hours. After dominating the first set with a clear 6-1, Djokopvic slipped on the court, later suffering a knee problem. In the press conference he will then say that he had resented a problem he had already suffered in recent days and that the fall had simply worsened the case. Furthermore, Djokovic argued with the chair umpire and the supervisor, guilty of not doing anything on a dilapidated playing surface. During the match Djokovic asked to sweep the surface several times, also to avoid putting the tennis players' safety at risk.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Shall we then talk about the crowd? Undisciplined, to say the least. Among spitting, insults and boos, this year there was almost more show in the stands than on the court!

"It's very frustrating to see you lose an important ball because someone in the stands screams right before you hit it. I know I have to stay focused and not get nervous, but it doesn't make sense for people to make sounds while we're in the middle of the rally. If it were if it happened once I wouldn't have said anything, but it happened several times," said the eventual champion Iga Swiatek, underlining a particular moment experienced in the epic (one of the few seen in this edition) match won in the 3rd set against Naomi Osaka. Words that met with a harsh reaction from Patrick Mouratoglou.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene
 

I also want to underline an aspect that has been addressed, but which still requires analysis. Why not give a seed to Rafael Nadal, in what could have been his last French Open? A disrespectful and inadequate treatment, that reserved to the legendary Spaniard by Amelie Mauresmo and the board of the Parisian Major. Obviously, first round bordering on the impossible against Alexander Zverev and Nadal out immediately.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024
Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

The 2024 edition of Roland Garros will also be remembered for some errors by the umpires. It happened in the semi-final between Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. It happened in the final between Carlitos and Zverev. During the 5th set of the men's final, there was a moment with a heated umpire discussion. On 2-1 for Alcaraz, with the Spaniard serving and in a break point situation for Zverev (therefore the possibility of returning on 2-2), a second serve from the Spaniard was called out by the line judge - therefore a double fault and break -. But the situation was reversed by an overrule by the chair umpire who, after seeing the mark on the clay, called the ball fair. And he gave the first serve back to Alcaraz. At the end that game was won by the Spaniard who, in this way, took the lead to 3-1. Zverev could have lost anyway but in the meantime he would have gone 2-2. And the German player talked about this in the press conference. Hawk-eye television images confirmed that ball was off by two millimeters. Of course, it must always be considered that the system also has a margin of error.

"There's a difference if you go 3-1 in the 5th or 2-2. It's a major difference. It's frustrating, but it is what it is. Referees make mistakes, they're human and that's fine. In a situation like this you wish they wouldn't there were errors," explained Zverev at the press conference.

Alexander Zverev and Renaud Lichenstein
Alexander Zverev and Renaud Lichenstein © Getty Images Sport - Tim Goode
 

Final consideration. There were gripping moments and matches that ended in the fifth set. But there was very little that was exciting. I found, among the most emotional moments, Philippe Chatrier's greeting to Rafael Nadal, Djokovic's two exciting victories in 5 sets and Naomi Osaka's match against Iga Swiatek. The same semi-final between Sinner and Alcaraz didn't give me anywhere near the emotions that seeing a challenge between Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic gave me. Maybe I'll also add Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray to them. Coincidentally, the most exciting moments of the French Open involved legends such as Nadal, Djokovic and Osaka. This discussion applies more to men's tennis than to women's tennis. The girls, with Super-Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Coco Gauff and the returning Osaka, may have found their post-Serena Williams dimension. Men's tennis has Alcaraz's spectacular plays, his rivalry with Sinner. But it lacks spectacle and, above all (still at least) CHARISMA, I want to underline this. As these two young champions grow up they will rewrite the history of tennis and tehy will got an amazing charisma but, for the moment, if this is the future of tennis without the Big 3, it presents a depressing horizon.

Roland Garros
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