How can an unknown young Polish girl, who has never won a main circuit tournament in her career, suddenly, on a beautiful Saturday in October, win a Grand Slam tournament, in this case that of Roland-Garros, only 19 years old and without having conceded a single set of the fortnight? All after correcting 6-1, 6-2, in the first round, last year’s runner-up, Marketa Vondrousova. And sent home a former world number one, Simona Halep, in two strokes of the racket in the round of 16. “I’m not so surprised”, commented the player, before leaving Paris after her rout. “At this level, everyone is playing very well and all games are open. In fact, it all depends on if it’s your day or not. “
The Romanian does not say that, like the coronation of Iga Swiatek on Saturday 10, women’s tennis has become, for five years, a lottery, where anyone seems able to beat anyone. The semi-finals of this Parisian edition were worthy of this immense question mark, with a player from the qualifying tournament, Argentina Nadia Podoroska, never seen before. In the quarterfinals, another qualified, the Italian Martina Trevisan, was eliminated by the future winner.
Of the 32 seeds in the big table, only six made it through the second week. They were only two in the semi-finals. Professional observers of women’s tennis are losing their Latin. “Today, there is no domination, as we have seen in the past or as we see in men, notes the former world number one, Amélie Mauresmo, in West France. It’s hard to get to know the players and get caught up in the game. Obviously, this makes women’s tennis a bit difficult for the general public to follow. “
Since the end of Serena Williams’ dominance, who lost her grip on world tennis in 2015, no less than twelve different players have inscribed their names on the trophy of one of the four majors. Some, like Japan’s Naomi Osaka, built a solid track record, scoring three wins, but many were content with a one-day triumph, in the midst of increasingly uncertain careers.
Thus, the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who to everyone’s surprise won Roland-Garros 2017 at 20, has never recovered her level and is now sailing around the 50e world place. Canadian Bianca Andreescu, victorious at the 2019 US Open, is doing better, but is far from her level of last year. As for Saturday’s finalist, American Sofia Kenin, a strong candidate for a regular course after her victory at the last Australian Open, she was swept away by Iga Swiatek.
In this great inconvenience, the good news is that the tables are open. Nothing seems off limits to daring young players. “There will be other Swiateks in the years to come and why not French”, bets the French national technical director Pierre Cherret who is looking at the junior tournaments: ” Today is where it happens. The emergence of Clara Burel this year at Roland Garros may have surprised, but we forget that she was number one junior. In the very open context of women’s tennis today, nothing is impossible for a player like her. ” The victory of the unknown Iga Swiatek does not come from nowhere, if we look at his substantial junior record, including a victory at Wimbledon 2018 in the under-18 category.