Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 7 of the 2020 French Open.
Was Denis Shapovalov robbed?
In the second round of this year’s Roland-Garros against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, the Canadian hit a whopping 106 (!!!!) unforced errors as he battled playing conditions, nerves, his temper and lost a five-hour marathon match well within his reach by the final score of 5-7, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 and 6-8.
Ultimately, Shapovalov has only himself to blame but he was only ready to take responsibility up to a point. “These conditions were completely stacked against me,” he said.“It’s impossible to hit a winner with these balls. In my opinion, it shouldn’t be that heavy and that difficult.”
Fresh on his mind was probably the one unforced error he got called for that really wasn’t one.
Serving at 30-15 and up 5-4 in the final set, Shapovalov hit a ball that was called out, then confirmed as so by the match umpire—although the call probably wasn’t right.
— Denis Shapovalov (@denis_shapo) October 1, 2020
Suddenly, rather than getting two match points on his racket, which again would have been far from automatic given how erratic he played throughout and up to that point, Shapovalov was levelled at 30-30 before getting broken again.
Was he robbed?
It’s tough to say really. The ball was called out and whether it was in or out doesn’t really matter; what matters is that it was called out. Tennis used to be fine without Hawkeye and that never forced everyone to say they were robbed anytime a borderline call went against them.
But if you’re wondering if it’s stupid that clay courts don’t use the same Hawkeye technology that everyone else uses, then you may be onto something. Because it’s fairly shortsighted to actively refrain yourself from taking every chance to make the right call when the tools to help you do just that are right there. Right. There.
Carballes Baena, for his part, couldn’t have been happier to emerge with the win. “It is a dream for me to win a match like this,” he said. “I tried to be very solid and focused on my game. Shapovalov served very well, but I played a very good match. It was the first time I beat a Top 10 player, reached the third round of a Grand Slam, and the first time I won a fifth set.”
In short, this was one hell of a win for the Spaniard. Let’s focus on this rather.
You can find the day 7 schedule here but for now, here are three key matches to keep a close eye on.
Court Simonne Mathieu: Andrey Rublev  vs Kevin Anderson (First match of the day)
Is there currently a more anonymous great player in men’s tennis than Andrey Rublev? If so, we’d love to hear who you have in mind. All the young Russian has done since men’s tennis came back is win 10 of his 13 matches, which was enough for an US Open quarterfinal berth and a title in Hamburg.
The likely quarterfinal against countryman Daniil Medvedev looms large and we can’t wait.
Court Philippe Chatrier: Sofia Kenin  vs Irina Bara (Second match of the day)
It’s extremely easy to forget now, given that about 128 years have elapsed between now and January of this year, but American Sofia Kenin emerged out of relative obscurity to capture the 2020 Australian Open. Really, that actually happened and we all witnessed it.
So far in Paris it’s been everything but smooth sailing for the fourth-seed, who’s needed a pair of three-set wins just to make it here, but a win is a win is a win as they say.
Court 14: Aryna Sabalenka  vs Ons Jabeur  (Second match of the day)
Eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka has done well to reach the third round at the French Open—and thus, making it farther at the event than she ever had—but she’ll have her work cut out against Ons Jabeur. The 26-year-old Tunisian has enjoyed the best season of her career so far in 2020 and profiles as a worthy opponent for Sabalenka.
It’s time to step up for the Belarusian.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG