Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 5 of the 2021 Australian Open.

Let’s start this one with a little joke, shall we?

Two Frenchmen walk into a bar. One of them asks the bartender for two pints of their beer on tap. The bartender tells him no, because the shot he hit last night during his tennis match was wrong. The other Frenchman jumps in, calls the bartender and his bar “shitty.”

Okay, sure we’re still workshopping this one.

What grinds their gears exactly? 

The point we’re going for here is that both Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire, two Frenchmen who lost in the first round of this year’s event, went and unloaded on various things related to the first Grand Slam of the season.

Granted, the odds, as they say, were stacked against the pair: as of today, the current top three contenders for the Men’s Singles category of the Australian Open are Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem. You didn’t, and you wouldn’t anyway if they were still competing, see the Simon or Paire names.

All of which is to say that no one expected great things from them over the next few days, which doesn’t make their loss any less surprising.

And it didn’t stop them from criticizing the Australian Open organizers. Paire took issue with the tournament that he called “shitty” because, he said, he had signed up to be able to practice for at least 14 days, which didn’t happen, etc. etc. In the case of Simon, the problem seemed to be the quality of the officiating, or maybe it was the Hawk-Eye technology or, like, whatever.

Ultimately, it’s fine for players to voice their opinion but their frustrations, here, likely stem much more from their first round losses than they do actual, real issues with the event. Because when you lose 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1 like Simon did, or 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5) and 7-5 against an unknown like Paire did, you’ll be frustrated.

Play better next time, guys. And we promise, we’ll have a better joke.

Highlighted matches for Day 5

As always, you can see three matches we’ve chosen to highlight here below. For the rest of the day’s schedule, merely head over here.

John Cain Arena: Ons Jabeur [27] vs Naomi Osaka [3] (Not before 1:30pm AEDT)

Has the great Naomi Osaka fully and conclusively made the leap? In recent years, women’s tennis has seen a number of next potential great champions come up and fall back down to earth as quickly as they had broken through.

And for a little while after winning her first two Grand Slam titles, it seemed like Osaka might join the list: things seemed a little dire after the 2019 Australian Open, as she followed two Grand Slam wins with four straight disappointing and early exits at the following four majors.

But she’s here now and she’s not going anywhere.

Rod Laver Arena: Adrian Mannarino [32] vs Alexander Zverev [6] (Third match of the day)

We’re choosing to highlight this match for one reason and one reason only: it’s a rematch of the gloriously dumb and wonderful “What the hell happened to Adrian Mannarino?” at last year’s US Open, where the match between the pair was delayed for well over an hour and with barely any official word as to the reason why.

Rod Laver Arena: Taylor Fritz [27] vs Novak Djokovic [1] (Second match of the night)

There’s a reason why Novak Djokovic remains the favourite here in Melbourne as he’s navigated pretty easily his first two matches in Australia. American Taylor Fritz steps in this time, with nothing to lose except the knowledge and pressure he’ll need to serve the match of his life to even have a shot at surviving.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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