Roland Garros 2021 – HEAD’s most successful Grand Slam tournament
The historic 19th Grand Slam title for Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova’s singles-and-doubles double were just the headlines from the most successful Grand Slam tournament that HEAD has ever had.
Five of the eight men’s singles quarter-finalists play with a HEAD racket, and the tournament saw new highs at a major for Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Lorenzo Musetti and Coco Gauff.
Musetti made it to the fourth round for the first time, winning a passionate all-Italian five-setter against Marco Cecchinato, and then led Novak Djokovic by two sets to love, before running out of steam and picking up an injury.
Another Italian Jannik Sinner came back from match point down to beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and then led Rafael Nadal 5-3 in the first set of their fourth round match before the defending champion launched an explosive eight-game run to snuff out the competition. The leading Italian at Roland Garros was Matteo Berrettini, who took Djokovic to four sets and might have gone to a fifth, before losing serve at the end of the fourth.
The biggest advance came from Davidovich Fokina, the Spaniard of Russian heritage who played a superb match to beat one of the form players of the European claycourt season, Caspar Ruud, on a 7-5 fifth set, and went on to reach his first major quarter-final. Davidovich Fokina endeared himself to the Paris fans by serving underarm on crucial points, including saving one match point against Ruud with an undercut serve.
Diego Schwartzman once again warmed the hearts of everyone who enjoys seeing the smaller players do well. The 1.70-metre (5ft 7in) Argentinean took a set off Nadal in the quarter-finals, and led 4-3 in the third before Nadal unleashed another onslaught.
And Alexander Zverev came within a whisker of a second Grand Slam final when he lost his semi-final to Stephanos Tsitsipas 6-4 in the fifth set. Zverev showed great character in bouncing back from two sets down to lead 0-40 on the Greek’s serve in the opening game of the fifth set, but once that game had gone with serve, the momentum shifted, and Zverev departed after reaching his first Roland Garros semi-final.
Coco Gauff, still only 17, made it to the last eight for the first time at a major with a highly impressive 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ons Jabeur. But in an all-HEAD quarter-final, she ran into the unstoppable Krejcikova, and once Gauff had missed several set points in a long first set, the 25-year-old Czech strolled through the second set on her way to the remarkable achievement of the double of the women’s singles and doubles – the first woman to achieve that at Roland Garros for 21 years.
But pride of place goes to Novak Djokovic, who won back-to-back matches lasting an identical four hours 11 minutes. His win over Nadal in the semi-finals will go down as possibly the outstanding match of the year – certainly the 91-minute third set was tennis of unsurpassable quality – and yet he backed up the effort by coming from two sets down to beat Tsitsipas in the final.
It was a remarkable fortnight for HEAD players – of course the racket doesn’t do all the work, but these players clearly are ahead of the rest!