Robson’s column: ‘Humble’ Sinner my tip for French Open title

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Robson’s column: ‘Humble’ Sinner my tip for French Open title

In her latest Sky Sports column, Laura Robson discusses Novak Djokovic’s knee injury that ended his French Open, gives her tournament tips out of the men’s and women’s semi-finalists and has her say on the ‘absurd’ 3am finishes occurring too frequently as Grand Slams…

Djokovic will have feared the worst after knee injury

There’s been so many storylines coming out of the French Open, none more so than Novak Djokovic having to pull out prior to his quarter-final.

The fact that he got through another five-setter, where it looked like he tore his knee towards the end of the second set, was so impressive.

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Annabel Croft assesses what Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal from the French Open could mean for the rest of his season

He effectively played almost another three hours with the injury, having played a five-setter that finished at 3am two days before.

With the adrenaline and the emotions in these situations, I don’t think you know how bad it is until you’ve properly cooled down post-match. I’m not surprised he carried on but he would have walked off court kind of knowing that it wasn’t likely to be good news.

Recovery from a meniscus tear can vary. Sometimes it’s a quicker fix and other times it can drag on, depending on the grade of the tear.

But coming onto grass, you wouldn’t necessarily want to risk it on a slippery surface.

‘Humble’ Sinner my tip to take French Open title

Unfortunately, it’s not the way that Jannik Sinner would have wanted to get the No 1 ranking, given that it happened mid-match when Djokovic pulled out of the tournament, but it felt inevitable anyway.

Jannik Sinner of Italy holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup aloft after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Image: Jannik Sinner claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year

He’s been on such a big run of points this year and others have so much to defend over the next few months. Jannik has been the best player in the world this year, so it’s fully deserved. He just seems so at peace with himself, so down to earth and humble about the No 1 spot.

None of the big four are left and so we’re going to have a new men’s French Open champion for the first time in 20 years – it puts into perspective how much Rafa, in particular, has achieved in Paris.

There’s a new name finally. And it really does feel like there’s a changing of the guard this year.

I would lean towards Jannik winning it, even though Carlos Alcaraz is playing much better in the last couple of matches. Beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets on clay is not easy.

On the women’s side of things, you can’t look beyond Iga Swiatek for a fourth time.

‘Absurd’ 3am finishes have to become thing of the past

I missed Djokovic’s 3am finish because I was already back in London, getting ready for Nottingham, but I totally disagree with it.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in a men's singles third-round match at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris in the small hours of June 2, 2024. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo

Image: Novak Djokovic defeated Lorenzo Musetti in the third round after a five-set epic that went on till 3am

I don’t think there should be any live sport at 3am in the morning – for the players, the spectators, the people working at the event.

It is totally absurd. What are we doing? Matches start at 11am, so why are we still going at 3am the following morning? It affects your chances as a player, because if your match finishes at 3am, you’re not going to get to sleep until 6.30am, at the earliest – by the time you cool down, recover, do your press and everything else. You’ve effectively pulled an all-nighter, so how can you ever be fully prepared for your next match in 24 hours time?

I think it’s terrible for everyone involved and it seems like it’s happening more often because matches are going longer.

Tournaments need to do something about it, whether that means they move the night session earlier, schedule less in the day.

Honestly, it’s a minefield, I get that, but it’s not productive for anyone. The fans, ball kids, staff, how are they meant to get home afterwards? It’s ludicrous to me.

Should more women’s matches be played in evening session?

Unfortunately, the tournament doesn’t feel like they can risk putting women’s matches in the evening sessions and have potentially a 60-minute match versus an almost guaranteed hour-and-a-half, which is about the shortest you could have for a best-of-five sets.

It’s unfortunate, especially when we’ve seen so many great women’s matches over the last two weeks.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 29: Iga Swiatek of Poland embarces Naomi Osaka of Japan after their Women's Singles second round match on Day Four of the 2024 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

Image: Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka played out a two-hour and 57 minute epic in the second round at Roland Garros

The Iga Swiatek versus Naomi Osaka second-round match, in particular, had everything. It was really high drama, super intense and the ball-striking from both was amazing.

Going into the day, you’re looking at the order of play and you’ve got world No 1 against a former world No 1. If they were ever going to do it, it would have been that match – and it ended up going two hours and 57 minutes.

It would have been great and it would be better, in general, to see more evenness across the schedule.

If you’re trying to lift a product, but then always put it in the slots that you know less people are going to watch, then it’s sort of a spiral, isn’t it?

Moutet and the underarm serve? ‘I love it’

I’m totally a fan of the underarm serve.

France's Corentin Moutet returns to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 10, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Image: Corentin Moutet is one of the major exponents of the underarm serve in tour

I think Corentin Moutet at some points overuses it but, to throw in when someone is so far back behind the baseline, I’m always surprised people don’t use it more. Especially against the likes of Danill Medvedev, who is back near where the line judges are.

It’s harder than it looks though. I don’t know if that’s just me.

It has to have quite a lot of slice underneath it, otherwise, you’re feeding your opponent a perfect opportunity to put a winner past you.

You see that, sometimes when they get it wrong, they get it really wrong. But Moutet especially does it well… I love it.

Laura Robson was speaking to Sky Sports’ Raz Mirza. Watch the WTA and ATP Tours throughout 2024 on Sky Sports Tennis. Stream Sky Sports Tennis and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – just £21 a month for 12 months. No contract, cancel anytime.

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