Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2021 edition of the French Open.
Welcome to Paris for the 2021 Roland-Garros, where over the next two weeks you might witness many, many things except for one: a Naomi Osaka press conference.
(What, did you think we wouldn’t mention this in the intro of our Roland-Garros draw preview and analysis? You should know us better than this by now.)
We’ll undoubtedly revisit the topic over the next 14 or so days but still, let’s tackle a few things. Because there are many things to say and many ways to react about the Japanese’s announcement that she wouldn’t do any press conferences at the French Open after her matches.
Why is this a big deal?
You can say that it’s wonderful to see someone understand their power and throw their weight around on causes that they believe in. You can say that she’s deeply relatable because just the other day, you asked for a new office chair and then called in sick to work. (The reason? Just because.) You can say that this may be the change we need to revamp the format of the press conferences. You can say that it’s silly that Osaka will still be fined for every press availability that she skips on but that you hope, like her, that the money from the fines goes toward supporting mental health initiatives.
Just as well, there are some other things that you probably shouldn’t say. You shouldn’t say that she’s entitled or such a brat because, again, you would be saying this of someone prioritizing their mental health. You shouldn’t say that Osaka is being selfish and that not every one is in her enviable position: ultimately, if she succeeds, then maybe more players can be in her position too? You shouldn’t say, either, that we must keep having post-match press conferences just because we’ve always had them. You see, this isn’t making the case for them that you think it’s making.
Where is the Roland-Garros draw preview?
That all said, let’s move on to the draw preview of this second major of the 2021 season. As always, we don’t recommend wagering based on these predictions; we tend to be way wrong more often than we are right.
Is something just as shocking the second time it happens? That’s what we’re anticipating here. In giving Iga Swiatek a second Grand Slam title at her young age, we would be anointing the arrival of yet another contender for the informal title of “the new face of women’s tennis.”
As for Swiatek’s opponent in the final, we foresee chaos and Kiki Bertens emerging from the fray to face the young Polish player. Would this be an absolutely preposterous result? Sure, but that doesn’t deter us.
Quarterfinals: Ashleigh Barty over Karolina Pliskova; Iga Swiatek over Elise Mertens; Serena Williams over Aryna Sabalenka; Kiki Bertens over Belinda Bencic
Semifinals: Iga Swiatek over Ashleigh Barty; Kiki Bertens over Serena Williams
Final: Iga Swiatek over Kiki Bertens
Dear tennis gods, what have we done to you to deserve such a draw like this one on the men’s side? What have we done that you deemed it a worthy punishment to slot Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same half? 🙁 🙁 🙁
Hold up, we’re being that that, yep this is actually all payback for the French Open organizers’ cavalier attitude ever since the pandemic hit more than a year ago. Welp.
Anyway, never go against Nadal in Paris. It’s silly.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Felix Auger-Aliassime; Rafael Nadal over Diego Schwartzman; Dominic Thiem over Alexander Zverev; Stefanos Tsitsipas over Milos Raonic
Semifinals: Rafael Nadal over Novak Djokovic; Dominic Thiem over Stefanos Tsitsipas
Final: Rafael Nadal over Dominic Thiem
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG