Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 8 of the 2021 French Open.

What a difference a week makes.

A little bit before the main draw of this year’s Roland-Garros got underway, tournament organizers unveiled their brand new Rafael Nadal statue. Really? Yes, really. Look.

At this point, our ongoing bewilderment at the decisions made by folks from the French Tennis Federation and the French Open has been well documented in this space. We feel like they often act selfishly, if not downright recklessly, consequences be damned. And now, with this new statue, we feel like they’ve jumped the gun once again.

Why a statue?

Announced back in 2017, the Nadal statue exists because, like, the Spaniard is a monster who needs to be immortalized…or something? Whatever.

Our point here isn’t to berate French Open organizers or to wonder whether Nadal’s statue got erected too soon. (Of course, it’s too soon for it. You’re one of the four biggest tournaments in the world and you unveil the statue of a player who’s absolutely laid waste to the competition at your event while he is still playing. How could you even argue it’s not too soon?)

Too soon for a statue of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros?


Scheduling snafu on day 6

But fast forward a few days to day 6 of the event. When we glanced at the day’s slate of matches, we noticed that Nadal, this great player and competitor of whom you, again, had unveiled a dang statue just before the start of the event, well we noticed that Nadal had his third round match slated for Court Suzanne-Lenglen?

Huh? Was this true? Were you really putting the match of this man you had immortalized with a statue during his playing days, sorry sorry we don’t want to keep repeating ourselves, on a different court than Philippe-Chatrier? Again, you had given him a statue!!!

For this third round match, Nadal was playing Cameron Norrie, whom he beat in three sets of 6-3 of course, but in a way his opponent shouldn’t matter here. If Nadal is good enough to have a statue outside of your stadium, then he’s good enough to play on Court Philippe-Chatrier literally every time.

At the French Open, Nadal should never play elsewhere than Court Philippe-Chatrier. If you don’t agree with this, then maybe you should have thought of it before you built the man a statue.

Day 8 preview

As always, we close things out today by looking at three special matches from the day 8 schedule. For the full daily slate, simply click here.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [31] vs Victoria Azarenka [15] (First match of the day)

Here we are, in the middle of the ongoing reinvention of Victoria Azarenka—and we absolutely love it. Playing in what’s traditionally been her worst Grand Slam, the attacking Azarenka has been lethal during this first week in Paris. Should she get the win here, her reward would be a likely quarterfinal against none other than Serena Williams. But let’s worry about that bridge when we get there.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen: Cristian Garin [22] vs Daniil Medvedev [2] (Third match of the day)

Is this year’s French Open doubling as the Cristian Garin breakout party? This might be precocious to say, but the Chilean has certainly been playing excellent tennis. And should he manage a win against Daniil Medvedev, whom he’s already beaten this year in Madrid, he would capture the attention of tennis fans everywhere. But first he needs to overtake the villain of the ATP, who’s apparently gotten used to clay again.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Kei Nishikori vs Alexander Zverev [6] (Not before 9pm local time)

Kei Nishikori must have breathed a sigh of relief when Henri Laaksonen, whom the Japanese was set to face in the third round, withdrew from their match after the first set. After winning his first two matches each in five sets, Nishikori needs all the rest he can get. Which isn’t to say that he minds playing five-set matches: with those two wins, the 31-year-old is now a whopping 26-7 when his matches go to the limit. That’s pretty ludicrous.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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