French Open day 9 recap: Roland Garros quarter-finals are decided for 2024


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Welcome back to the French Open briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On Day 9 of Roland Garros 2024, a very young rising star made the next step in her career, a fan proved a lucky charm, and the tournament made its night session intentions clear.

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A first Grand Slam quarter-final for a player whose ascension is when, not if

Mirra Andreeva, the 17-year-old rising star from Russia, is getting closer and closer to the puppy her mother, Raisa, promised her if she broke into the top 20 this year.

That said, with all due respect to Raisa, she probably should have negotiated a Grand Slam clause into the deal. Mirra, who is now up to No. 30 in the live rankings, blasted her way into the quarter-finals of the French Open on Monday, her deepest run to date during her charmed 14-month existence at the top level of women’s tennis.

Andreeva made the fourth round in Australia in January and at Wimbledon last year, but those were her main draw debuts at both events. This is her second start in the French Open, and she made the third round at the first attempt. The way her career has gone so far, it figures that she would get to the final eight with the wisdom of experience before even turning 18.

She beat Varvara Gracheva, like her a native Russian who makes her home in France, but unlike Andreeva, Gracheva became a French citizen last year. The crowd at Roland Garros have cheered Gracheva all tournament, and their match was no exception — so Andreeva just imagined that they were saying Mirra instead.


Mirra Andreeva, unseeded, faces world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka next. (Dan Istitene / Getty Images)

After her win, Andreeva made an admission about how she uses the advice from her coach, Conchita Martinez, a Wimbledon champion in 2000 — or doesn’t.

“I listen, but honestly, I don’t remember anything after,” she said.

“I don’t have anything in my head when we start playing the match. So I just go there and I’m, like, well, we’ll see. I’ll figure it out. That’s how I always play, that’s how I always do.”

This quality of forgetfulness, the ability to believe in one’s own skill no matter of how it served in a scenario seconds ago, has a name in soccer and other sports — goldfish memory. Andreeva has it, but she has that wisdom, too.

Kids today.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Mirra Andreeva manages one teenage tennis miracle after another

No upsets means heavyweight battles

What’s the optimum level of unpredictability for a tournament?

Some people like loads of shock results in the early rounds for the excitement they cause, others like a mixture, and others still prefer all of the favorites to go through.

The logic for being in the latter group is that there is the delayed gratification of belatedly being served up heavyweight clashes. And that’s what this French Open promises over the next few days. It’s so far been a tournament free of truly huge upsets, which some might have found disappointing, but boy do the quarter-finals onwards look exciting.

On both the men’s and women’s side it’s pretty much all big-time matches, with play on Court Philippe-Chatrier starting on Tuesday with Coco Gauff against Ons Jabeur, and finishing with Carlos Alcaraz taking on Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Let’s hope these encounters have been worth the wait.

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Ons Jabeur beat Danish prodigy Clara Tauson to set up a meeting with Coco Gauff. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat /AFP via Getty Images)

The night session battle is no longer worth the fight

Nine days. Nine night sessions. Nine men’s matches in the featured spot at the tournament, in what is always a packed Court Philippe-Chatrier and a huge opportunity for the French Open to showcase women’s tennis.

Tuesday will bring a tenth night sessions starring men only. It’s a good matchup – Carlos Alcaraz vs. Stefanos Tsitispas, in a head-to-head that Alcaraz leads 5-0.

Coco Gauff vs. Ons Jabeur is a pretty good one too. They will get the first morning slot at 11 a.m., when the stands are usually about one-third full. It has to be that way for Gauff — she has doubles to get to in the afternoon — and it’s not as simple as just redressing a balance. Men’s and women’s tennis players alike don’t want to play super late, and rain delays and long matches have unified to see a lot of very late finishes the last few days, even on the outside courts before the draw came down to the last 16. Women’s world No. 1 Iga Swiatek doesn’t like playing at night full stop.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

‘I think we deserve better’: How and why tennis lets women down

Organizers say they don’t want to put a short women’s match in the night slot, either, but there’s scope to follow the U.S. and Australian Opens and make the “night session” an earlier start, with two matches in play. Without that, the female undercard will remain a real thing. Tuesday will mark the fourth day when women take up the first two slots on Chatrier and the men take up the late afternoon and evening slots.

Every tennis player needs a biggest fan

More on Alex de Minaur soon. Let’s talk about Paul.

In the third round, after de Minaur beat Jan-Lennard Struff, one of the most dangerous players on tour at any given time and on a bit of a run this clay season, he high-fived a few fans, including one hugely enthusiastic young kid. After the match de Minaur tried to find out a bit more about his supporter, who wore a backwards cap (not one to just copy his hero) and couldn’t get enough of seeing the Australian 11th seed do well.

Paul duly reappeared for de Minaur’s match against world No. 5 Daniil Medvedev. The Russian is the clay sandbagger-in-chief in the men’s draw, always proclaiming his hate for the surface despite loudly and frequently proclaiming his disdain for it in the past. He’s mellowed a bit now. But an injury and de Minaur’s irrepressible form of the last 12-or-so months won out, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. De Minaur doesn’t much like clay either, except when it’s livelier in the sun and the heat, but that’s a bit strange, given his incredible defense, remarkable footspeed, and prodigious agility. He’s said he’s learning to love it in the cold and wet this tournament; he’s probably happier that the next time Paul comes to see him on court, the sun should be shining.

Monday’s results

  • Elena Rybakina (4), def. Elina Svitolina (15) 6-4, 6-3
  • Jasmine Paolini (12) def. Elina Avanesyan, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1
  • Aryna Sabalenka (2) def. Emma Navarro (22), 6-2, 6-3
  • Mirra Andreeva def. Varvara Gracheva, 7-5, 6-2

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  • Alex de Minaur (11) def. Daniil Medvedev (5), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3
  • Novak Djokovic (1) def. Francisco Cerundolo (23), 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
  • Casper Ruud (7) def. Taylor Fritz (12), 7-6(6), 3-6. 6-4, 6-2
  • Alexander Zverev (4) def. Holger Rune (13), 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-2

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Tuesday’s order of play

  • Coco Gauff (3) vs. Ons Jabeur (8)
  • Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (5)
  • Grigor Dimitrov (10) vs. Jannik Sinner (2)
  • Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (9)

Tell us what you noticed on the ninth day as things continue …

(Top photo of Mirra Andreeva: Alain Jocard / Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton for The Athletic)





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