Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 5 - this really is impromptu

·4 min read

An unknown French player comes straight out of nowhere to beat the eighth seed, a Romanian's racquet turns space invader and Gilles Simon goes gushy.

Jeanjean genie

Why not inject a bit of David Bowie’s genius into the proceedings. Léolia Jeanjean deserves it. The 26-year-old Frenchwoman advanced to the last 32 after a straights sets demolition of the former world number one Karolina Pliskova. Even though the Czech was not among the favourites for the women’s title, the 30-year-old was expected to see off a player ranked 227 in the world playing in her first Grand Slam tournament. Jeanjean was once anointed the future of French tennis. But in 2010 she mangled her left knee. And that was that as far the big time was concerned. She played college tennis while studying for a degree in finance in the United States and after returning to France has worked her way back up the rankings from her base in Toulouse. She received an invitation from the French tennis federation to play in this year’s Roland Garros. “I stopped playing when I was young,” Jeanjean explained. “I just wanted to give myself another chance because I thought since I was good when I was like 14, 15, I'm like why I can't be good 10 years later?” Like, good point.

Getting edgy

The unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu qualified for a third round showdown with Léolia Jeanjean. But it was edgy. During her second round match against Ekataerina Alexandrova, she bounced her racquet in a fit of pique on the ground as she walked back to her chair. But the instrument went rogue and flew off into the seats just behind the players’ chairs. It landed near a youngster who burst into tears at the shock of it all. Out came the supervisor to consider whether Begu should be disqualified. But the 31-year-old was allowed to continue and warned for unsporting behaviour. Crowd didn’t like that at all. Wanted blood. Didn’t get any. Later Alexandrova received the same sanction for launching a ball into the air after losing a game. Crowd didn’t like that either. After her victory, Begu made sure to take a picture with the youngster. Doubtless the lawyer had been in touch.

Iga sanction

We like our literary allusions too. Even if they remain a tad obscure. A clue. There's a mountain to climb, it seems, if someone wants to claim the women's singles crown. Iga Swiatek made it 30 straight wins on her way to the third round. She handed out her 15th 6-0 drubbing of the season too. Alison Riske is no pushover either. Though down to 43 in the world, she was in the top 20 but three years ago.

Rafa and his twentysomething groupies

Bless them all. Corentin Moutet, 23, said he used to wear the shirts as worn by Nadal at the French Open when he went to bed at night as a kid growing up in Paris. Iga Swiatek is also a member of the fan club. Following the 20-year-old Pole's waltz past Alison Riske, it was put to her if she would you like to play mixed doubles with him. "Oh, my God. I would love to play mixed doubles with Rafa," she hurried. "I think it would be really great experience. But when was the last time he played mixed doubles?" she added as she returned from dreamland. And after a pause, insisted: "I want him to be focused on singles." Such self-sacrifice. That is devotion.

Allez Gilou

Gilles Simon wrote a fascinating book a couple of years back about how the French tennis federation could better prepare their youngsters for the demands of the senior circuit. The 37-year-old is retiring at the end of the season so this is his last Roland Garros. He lost the first three games of the match against Steve Johnson but came back to take the set 7-5. The second went in a flash at 6-1 and he served for the match at 5-4. But Johnson went power mad and broke back to 5-5. It crept into a tiebreak and after the crowd had done their Allez Gilou, he took it 8-6. And boy were they happy. And they were even more pleased with his post match salute. "You don't know how much it means to know you are there. There are so many moments during the year when you think you are alone and then you find everyone is with you." Cheers. Applause. Handkerchiefs. We're sorry, but is this really impromptu?

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