'Terrible': French Open carnage sparks unthinkable 53-year first

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Benoit Paire, Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Benoit Paire, Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were among the high-profile Frenchmen to lose in the opening round. Image: Getty

France's male contingent at Roland Garros has suffered their worst collective performance at their home grand slam in 53 years.

Just three French men have reached the second round of the clay-court grand slam, their worst performance on home soil since tennis turned professional in 1968.

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Enzo Couacaud, 26, joined veterans Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet as the only local males to make it out of the first round, taking advantage of a wildcard as he beat Egor Gerasimov.

The trio are all that is left of the French male contingent, who started the tournament with 18 players.

Gilles Simon, Grégoire Barrère, Lucas Pouille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Adrian Mannarino, Ugo Humbert, Benjamin Bonzi, Mathias Bourgue, Benoit Paire, Jeremy Chardy, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Corentin Moutet all crashed out at the first hurdle.

The previous worst performance by France's men came in 2000 and 2020 when only four qualified for the second round.

Should Monfils, Gasquet and Couacaud fail to win their second-round matches, it would be the first time in the Open era that no French man features in the third round at Roland Garros.

The last French male player to win the French Open was Yannick Noah in 1983.

Fans were left gobsmacked by the horrible performance from the male French contingent.

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Djokovic and Nadal cruise into second round

Top male contenders Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had no such troubles, cruising into the second round on Tuesday.

Djokovic commenced his campaign with a routine 6-2 6-4 6-2 win against American Tennys Sandgren in the historic first men's match to be scheduled in a night session at Roland Garros.

With no spectators allowed on Philippe Chatrier court due to a 9pm local curfew, the Serbian World No.1 went through the gears as he dispatched his opponent to improve to 17-0 in first-round matches at the event.

Djokovic, chasing a 19th major title and looking to narrow the gap to 20-time grand slam champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, showed some signs of frustration in the second set but world No.66 Sandgren was never close to bothering him.

Gael Monfils, pictured here after winning in the opening round at the French Open.
Gael Monfils was one of just three French men to make the second round at Roland Garros. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The third set was a mere formality as Djokovic, whose lone French Open title came in 2016, won five games in a row in what resembled a training session.

Nadal needed almost two and a half hours to rack up his 101st victory at Roland Garros after Aussie youngster Alexei Popyrin "choked" when presented with two set points in the third.

Australia's rising star could only experience the same sinking feeling as countless wannabes before him as he became the king of clay's latest victim, slayed in straight sets 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

Popyrin held two set points in Tuesday's third set as he sniffed the chance of becoming only the third man ever to take a set off Nadal in a first round match.

But the young Aussie first served a double fault and then, stretching for a smash, cracked it over the baseline to allow the 13-times champion to wriggle free of trouble.

with AAP

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