Roland Garros, the preferred Grand Slam of Argentines, but they have not been protagonists for a while

Roland Garros It is the preferred Grand Slam of Argentines, who feel at home on the orange courts of Paris, very similar to those that abound in Creole clubs. Playing this tournament is one of the first goals that tennis players set for themselves. albicelestes when they start their professional careers, perhaps even earlier, during their junior years. Some even allow themselves to imagine raising the coveted Musketeers Cup. But that love for the “big” Frenchman is no longer reciprocated, because the brick dust of Bois de Boulogne It has been, for several years, not very friendly with the players of our country.

Except for some great isolated performances, the light blue and white rackets usually say goodbye very early to the Parisian tournament. This is made clear by the statistics, which show that in the last 17 years only one edition had at least two Argentines in the quarterfinals: five seasons ago, with Juan Martin del Potro y Diego Schwartzman. With eight confirmed for the main draw from which it will start this Sunday -and several of them in very good moments-, will that record be improved in 2023?

The best Roland Garros in history -if we are talking about our tennis- was that of 2004, when there were four national representatives among the eight best. Juan Ignacio Chela he fell in the quarterfinals to the British Tim Henman. David Nalbandian reached the semis, where he lost with Gaston Gaudio. And the Gato beat in the end to Guillermo Coriato become the second Argentine champion in Paris, after Guillermo Villas (1977). The following year, the one that marked the beginning of the reign of Rafael Nadalthe Spaniard defeated in the final Marian Gatewho, in turn, had gone down to Guillermo Canas In rooms.

From 2006 to today, only in 2018 two Argentines managed to win at least four games in the tournament. That year, Schwartzman, then 12th in the ranking, had victories against Frenchman Calvin Hemery (130th), Czech Adam Pavlasek (185th), Croatian Borna Coric (40th) and South African Kevin Anderson (7th). and reached the quarterfinals. He said goodbye in that instance before Nadal, number one in the world.

Del Potro was eliminated in the 2018 semis by Nadal. Photo EFE/ Yoan Valat

Del Potro, located in sixth place, went one step further. He beat the locals Nicolas Mahut (116th) and Julien Benneteau (62nd), the Spanish Albert Ramos (36th), the American John Isner (10th) and the Croatian Martin Cilic (4th) and was eliminated in the semis by Rafa.

The two of them, along with Nalbandian, are the three Argentines who have managed to break into the semis in the last 17 editions. Delpo He did it twice, since before that 2018 he had reached the instance prior to the decisive one in 2009, when he lost to the Swiss Roger Federerwho later won his only title in the tournament.

He “King David” He was among the best four in 2006, when he was number three in the world and ended up retiring with abdominal pain against Federer, who advanced to the final.

Meanwhile, the small She was a semifinalist in the special 2020 edition, which was played at the end of September and the beginning of October, postponed due to the pandemic, and which also had an Argentine in that instance in the women’s draw. Nadia Podoroska. The man from Buenos Aires -who arrived confident after beating Nadal in Rome and ceding the title of that tournament to Novak Djokovic– surprised Dominic Thiem (3rd) in the quarterfinals and in the semis he was surpassed by the Spaniard (2nd).

Nalbandian reached the semifinals in 2006, but had to retire injured in that round against Federer.  Photo EFE/Christophe Karaba

Nalbandian reached the semifinals in 2006, but had to retire injured in that round against Federer. Photo EFE/Christophe Karaba

Taken individually, those performances were huge news for national tennis. However, the full picture shows that the national rackets have not been having luck in Paris. There are many who come to main draw -except in 2010 and 2020, when there were five, in the rest of the seasons since 2016 at least seven entered the draw-, but few who manage to advance beyond the second round.

In 2008, for example, 15 started, six said goodbye to their debut (Monaco, choria, calleri, White hair, Berlocq y roitman), eight in the second instance (Del Potro, Nalbandian, Junqueira, Acasuso, Machi González, Chela, Vasallo Argüello y Decoud) and alone Edward Schwank reached the third And in 2016, none of the nine that entered the box won two games: in the first they were eliminated Schwartzman, Delbonis, Mayer y zeballos; and in second, Monaco, Pella, Bagnis (before Nadal), Berlocq y Trungellites.

This reality is repeated in the qualy. In each edition, the albiceleste rackets top the rankings, but not many win a place in the main competition. Last year, two out of 11 made it past qualifying; and two others ended up entering the main draw as lucky losers. Thus, there were also 11 in the main draw and the only one who passed the second instance was Peque, who reached the round of 16.

In this 2023, Francisco Cerundolo, 28th in the world, will start at the head of the eight Argentines who -at least until now- will play in Paris. The others will be Sebastian Baez (44°) y Thomas Etcheverry (46°), also representatives of the Next Gen light blue and white; Pedro Cachín (63°), Schwartzman (93°), Frederick Coria (94°), Guido Pella (421st, with a protected ranking) and Thiago Tirante (153rd), who entered from the standings (two more could be added this Friday). Will they be able to break the negative trend of recent years and once again put two or more representatives of the albiceleste among the top eight?

The eighths, the ceiling for women

The women’s tournament at Roland Garros proved to be tougher than the men’s for Argentine tennis. If the last 17 editions are reviewed, there were only three with a national representative in the round of 16.

Dulko was a semifinalist twice, the last time in 2011. Photo REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Dulko was a semifinalist twice, the last time in 2011. Photo REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Gisela Dulko She reached that instance in 2006 for the first time, beating the American Shenay Perry in the quarterfinals. And she then lost to 13th-seeded Anna Lena Grönefeld of Germany.

The Tigrense -who achieved the best results of her career as a doubles player (won the Australian Open 2011las WTA Finals 2010 and was number one in the world) – repeated that performance in 2011, when she withdrew with a left leg injury against French 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli.

Nine years passed then before another Argentine stepped on the eighth in Paris. Was Nadia Podoroska in the dreamed edition of 2020. Rosario started in the qualy and reached the semifinals by beating the Ukrainian in the quarterfinals Elina Svitolina, third favourite. And she was eliminated in that round by the Polish Every Swiatekleader of the ranking and later champion.

In 2020, Podoroska started in the qualy and starred in a historic climb to the semis.  Photo EFE/EPA/IAN LANGSDON

In 2020, Podoroska started in the qualy and starred in a historic climb to the semis. Photo EFE/EPA/IAN LANGSDON

The French Grand Slam does not have Argentines on its list of champions. The best historical performances were those of Gabriela Sabatinisemifinalist five times, in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991 and 1992.

Of course, this difference in statistics between Argentine men and women is also a consequence of different realities. While men’s tennis usually has many players going around the circuit and competing in the most important tournaments; female rackets at the highest level are much fewer.

In this Roland Garros, without going any further, Podoroska -today 101st in the ranking, will be the only national representative in the main draw. Lourdes Carle149ª, y Paula Ormaechea184th, could not pass the qualy.

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2023-05-25 21:40:45
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