Christopher O’Connell plans to miss unranked Wimbledon after early French Open exit
On a difficult day for the Australian contingent at Roland Garros, O’Connell was joined by Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alexei Popyrin and Astra Sharma on the exit.
But qualifier Jason Kubler saved the day by advancing to the second round by defeating American Denis Kubla in three decisive sets, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 ( 7-3).
World No. 85 Kokkinakis fell in a brutal four-set match in four hours and seven minutes, beating Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7 ).
A frustrated Popyrin, 22, regretted the missed chances of tough clay-courter Fabio Fognini of Italy but was looking at the benefits.
“My confidence is not at its highest, even though I won a title [in Bordeaux, France] last week,” Popyrin said.
“I had six difficult months. I went down the ranking. I had a few issues with injuries here and there. I struggled this year.
“I think my level today is probably not where I want it to be, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
O’Connell said if he hadn’t made his main draw debut at Wimbledon last year, the equation would be different.
Other players on the tour, including fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, are frustrated that Wimbledon are without points, giving them no chance to defend hard-earned points. Tomljanovic reached the quarter-finals in London last year, losing to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.
Becoming entrenched in the top 100 has the added benefits of direct entry to more tournaments for players such as O’Connell, a wild card in Paris.
“If I go to Wimbledon, then I qualify and I lose a week there. And if I happen to qualify, then I lose another week,” O’Connell said.
“I feel like I can play good tennis on grass, so in all these preliminary events I can have good results there – but I could also play something on clay.
“I’m sure a lot of players are talking about it right now and wondering what they’re going to do next.”
Medvedev has already ruled out legal action against the All England Club and he too is considering alternatives to Wimbledon, such as grass-court events in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
As the major clay court went into action, former Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem was beaten in straight sets. The Austrian admitted he might need to drop a touring level to get back into shape after a wrist injury.
Thiem, ranked modest 194, hasn’t won a game in 2022 but said his confidence will eventually return. He was beaten 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 by Bolivian world number 87 Hugo Dellien.
“There’s not enough power in my shots yet, and it’s not just the forehand, I have too low a first serve percentage, the first serve doesn’t hurt enough,” Thiem said. .
“The backhand is good, but it’s not long enough, it’s not fast enough.
“The key is just to be patient, to keep being patient, to work on what isn’t working and then it will come back, but it will take time.
“I have to be patient, and I think it’s going to be a few more months before I can really say, okay, now I’m ready to beat these top guys again.”
Thiem said he would likely move on to Challenger-level tennis.
“If I’m honest with myself, I was, in all the matches I played, still quite far from a victory.
“I don’t really think about it, I just have to improve and hopefully it will go away on its own, then the win in the first game will come and then things will work out a lot better depending on the game as well.”
In the women’s draw, two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza was beaten by veteran Kaia Kanepi.