May 31, 2019
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer marched on at Roland Garros but certainly didn’t have it all their own way.
Eleven-time champion Nadal dropped a set against David Goffin and Roger Federer was a point from doing the same against Casper Ruud.
So we were reminded that Nadal isn’t superhuman after all, and he hasn’t won his twelfth French Open title just yet.
As for Federer, we learnt that any tendency to take the foot off the pedal risks a prolonged fight.
And at 37, he definitely doesn’t want that in the first week or any other time.
All turned out well for both superstars in the end. And Federer, after a 10-8 third-set tie-break, could reflect happily on notching up an amazing 400 Grand Slam matches.
But it isn’t going to get any easier for either of the old warriors. And Novak Djokovic won’t have been too worried by what he saw from his main rivals.
Speaking of old warriors, the plucky Stan Wawrinka had won two tie-breaks against Grigor Dimitrov when play was suspended for the day. The great entertainer still has that touch of sparkle on clay.
And Stefanos Tsitsipas had taken the first two sets and drawn level at 5-5 in the third against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.
Yet again, however, it was the women who intrigued the most.
Jo Konta became the first British woman to reach the last 16 since 1983 after an emphatic win over Viktoria Kuzmova.
And Garbine Muguruza is showing the kind of form that won her the title here in 2016.
She dismissed Elina Svitolina with surprising ease.
But the biggest shock of the day was the elimination of world number two Karolina Pliskova, beaten comprehensively by Petra Martic.
Few would have bet on both Pliskova and Svitolina being out of contention by the first weekend.
The women’s game is always full of surprises these days and the Roland Garros draw has opened up once more.
Could the Brits be any more delighted by Konta’s form in the build-up towards Wimbledon 2019?
Whatever happens from here, British fans know they will have a serious contender to cheer in the Wimbledon singles.
Andy Murray may not make waves this time around. But Konta could well compensate massively.
By Mark Ryan