Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 6 - age rears its ugly head

·3 min read

The teens carved their way through the bottom half of the women's draw. As for the old soldiers? They soldiered on.

Youth of today

No respect these young guns. Coco Gauff had just been born when Kaia Kanepi was starting her time on the tour. That was 2004. And 18 years on, Kanepi, at 36 and 360 days, became the fifth oldest woman to feature in the last 32 at Roland Garros since tennis was opened up to professional players in the late 1960s. Gauff, a quarter-finalist last year, moved into the fourth round by beating up her elder 6-3, 6-4 in 83 minutes. Cold.

No country for old women

A tad impertinent we think but some reporters were questioning Kaia Kanepi about her 36 years and 360 days. "Any idea how long you want to continue playing?” quizzed one. Really? But Kanepi was politeness incarnate. “It's interesting to see how I can play at my age,” she replied as she considered how she would spend her 125,800 euros in prize money. “Actually, I don't think much about my age. If I play well and keep winning, then I don't think it matters how old I am.” Tell like it is young monied woman.

Djokovic, Nadal and family fortunes

No-one is suggesting retirement to 35-year-old Novak Djokovic or soon-to-be 36 Rafael Nadal. We assume it's because they are winning things. Both moved into the last-16. And of the two, Djokovic appears to have the easier task as he will play Diego Schwartzman. The Serb has won all six of his encounters with the Argentine. Nadal will take on Felix Auger-Aliassime. They played three years ago on the clay at the Madrid Masters. Nadal won in straight sets but that was before Auger-Aliassime hired the circuit's most successful uncle to help him out. What possible insights could Toni Nadal have on that Rafa?

Youth of today part II

Leylah Fernandez moved into the last-16 at Roland Garros for the first time thanks to her victory over the 14th seed Belinda Bencic. It was a bit of a slugfest for two hours and 49 minutes. Fernandez, 19, held her nerve though as it edged towards the final set tiebreak and won 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. So that's her, Gauff and 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova into the fourth round. "I think it's great for the sport," enthused Fernandez. "I'm always happy to see younger players coming up and playing so well in the tour. I think it's great for the sport and it's also good for the fans."

Hold-ups

Well the spectators on centre court certainly got behind the French teenager Diane Parry during her third round match against the 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens. Parry, who eliminated defending champion Barbora Krejcikova in the first round, had just saved a match point during the second set. It was back to deuce and getting edgy when suddenly someone in the crowd keeled over. The action had to stop for the best part of 10 minutes while paramedics attended to the poor soul. Ah yes, the players. Back they went into the middle. And the 19-year-old held to force Stephens to serve for the tie at 5-2 up. The 29-year-old could not do it. Time to retire? It was 5-3. And cries of: "Parry, Parry" rang around the arena. When will the supporters learn? It puts pressure on the locals. Parry duly cracked. And Stephens was into the last 16. 6-2, 6-3. Still, Parry's got 17 years to go before she's into Kanepi time.

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