The best of the past week, on and off the courts, day after day…With the start of the grass season, a 98th title for King Roger, Simon Halep’s triumphant homecoming, and already a few surprises at the football World Cup.
Monday, June 11th
It’s the end of the clay season, and the beginning of the season on grass ! The change of surface was marked by Roger Federer’s return to competition, as the top seed of the Stuttgart Open. If he qualifies for the final, the Swiss King could dethrone Rafael Nadal, the current leader at the ATP ranking. As for the rest of the ranking, Dominic Thiem, who played the final at Roland-Garros, won a spot and is now the world number seven. But the biggest advancement is Marco Cecchinato, who won 45 spots and is now the world number 27 ! In the WTA ranking, Halep is more than ever the leader in front of Wozniacki and Muguruza. Stephens is getting closer to the podium with a fourth spot. In the rest of the news, the Aquarius, a humanitarian boat, was denied the access to an Italian port. Depressing.
Tuesday, June 12th
While Simona Halep was welcomed home like a rock star in Romania after her triumph on the Parisian clay, Eugenie Bouchard seems to be drifting away from the tennis courts and getting closer to the catwalks and the camera flashes. A Kournikova-like career for the Canadian, who was the world number 5 at the end of 2014, and is now closer to the 200th spot… And while the incredible marketing ploy - sorry, the historical meeting - between Donald Trump and Kim-Jong un was held in Singapore, Andre Agassi gave his opinion on the duel of legends between Nadal and Federer : « The Spaniard is the biggest competitor, and I’m including all other sports. » Translation : talent may be Swiss but the mental strength is wearing a bandana and affected by OCD before serving.
Wednesday, June 13th
A winning comeback for Roger Federer, who defeated Mischa Zverev in Stuttgart. Lucas Pouille, the title-holder, also qualified after defeating Rudolf Molleker, a big prospect of German tennis. Milos Raonic also won, unlike Denis Shapovalov who was knocked out by the modest Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Rafael Nadal announced that he was withdrawing from the Queen’s, and Wawrinka did the same for the Bastad and Gstaad Opens. Marion Bartoli announced her definitive retirement. The ex-Wimbledon winner will put away her racquets after a missed attempt at coming back. In other news, McEnroe decided to spoil the mood by announcing his doubts on Andy Murray’s comeback : « It’ll be difficult to come back and play at the same level he showed before his hip operation. » Nice one, John !
Thursday, June 14th
Great, the World Cup is starting ! The opening game : Russia versus Saudi Arabia. In front of its supporters, the hosts started off with a great win, 5-0. Before that, Robbie Williams started the show by flipping off the camera during the opening ceremony. The start of the World Cup seemed to please Benoît Paire and Nick Kyrgios, who put on a show in Stuttgart with two perfectly executed tweeners. Meanwhile, Boris Becker tried to play the « diplomatic immunity » card to escape charges held against him. « Boom - Boom » trying to play from the baseline, but we’re not sure if it’ll work this time…
Friday, June 15th
It’s the second day of the football World Cup and we’ve already seen a classic match : 3-3 between a collectively impressive Spanish team and a Portuguese neighbor saved by its hero, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a hat trick. Speaking of sporting heroes, Roger Federer qualified for the semi-finals in Stuttgart, and is only one match away from the final. Kyrgios, Pouille and Raonic are the other semi-finalists of the tournament. But matches were also being played outside of Germany. In men’s tennis, two franco-australian duels were taking place in the semi-finals of the ’s-Hertogenbosch Open : Chardy against Ebden and the revenant Tomic against Gasquet. In women’s tennis, but still in the Netherlands, the top seed Coco Vandeweghe is still likely to win the tournament, while in Nottingham, the favorite is Ashleigh Barty, the world number 16. Oh, and a last information to finish this off : Gaël Monfils left his coach, the Swede Mikael Tillström.
Saturday, June 16th
Here we are : after a hard-fought battle against Nick Kyrgios, Roger Federer qualified for the final in Stuttgart and took back his world number 1 spot at the ATP ranking. He’ll face Raonic, who defeated the title-holder, Lucas Pouille. French tennis is shining in ’s-Hertogenbosch, with an upcoming duel between Chardy and Gasquet in the final. In women’s tennis, Ashleigh Barty qualified for the final in Nottingham, while Coco Vandeweghe was surprisingly knocked out by Aleksandra Krunic. The great tennis news of the day is the announcement of Andy Murray’s return to competition. After being out for almost a year, the Scotsman will play at the Queen’s next week. With a first round match against Nick Kyrgios. In the third day of the World Cup, the favorites struggled : while France ended up escaping the Australian trap (2-1), Argentina conceded a draw against Iceland (1-1). And this draw against Argentina is a good excuse to watch a great Icelandic clapping.
Sunday, June 17th
What is meant to be is meant to be : Roger Federer outclassed Milos Raonic in the final of the Stuttgart Open and won the tournament. His 98th ATP title and the third of the season after the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He could win the 99th in Halle next week, and the 100th at Wimbledon in July… The other winners of the day : Richard Gasquet who defeated Jérémy Chardy, Aleksandra Krunic, who confirmed his great form against Kirsten Flipkens, and Ashleigh Barty, who defeated Johanna Konta. Great, the season on grass has really started now, just like the World Cup, in which the favorites are still struggling : Brazil drew against Switzerland (a really great day for Swiss sport) and the German title-holders lost against an incredible Mexican team. Richard Gasquet winning a final, Germany losing a football match…is this real life ?
By Régis Delanoë