Pouille rekindles the flame, Cornet on the carpet, Tsitsipas hooked up… what to remember from Sunday 28 May

Roland-Garros gave its first surprises and controversies on the Parisian courts on Sunday.

The first exchanges of the Roland-Garros final table took place on Sunday 28 May. This first day was fatal for some Frenchmen, such as Alizé Cornet or Constant Lestienne, who believed in the feat against Karen Khachanov. Lucas Pouille continued his resurgence, while former semifinalist Maria Sakkari crashed from the start. Here’s what to remember from Sunday.

The ghost: Pouille prolongs the pleasure

Finding an opponent already beaten – but enlisted – during the qualifiers is never easy. Lucas Pouille, however, didn’t go into details and won Jurij Rodionov (6-2, 6-4, 6-3) in less than two hours, in a one-sided match. Driven by a euphoric short 14, the Nordic dominated the Austrian, to a greater extent than in qualifying, where he had conceded a set.


Dropped to 638th in the ATP rankings, Pouille is gradually regaining the level that made him a semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2019. Looking forward to regaining these heights, he is in the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time in nearly four years.

The storm: the French miss it

It’s already over for Alizé Cornet. The French lost in straight sets against the Italian Camila Giorgi (6-3, 6-4). The Frenchwoman, who holds the record for the number of Grand Slams played in a row (65 since Australia 2007), questioned her future at a press conference.


It’s also over for Jessika Ponchet, 123rd player in the world and coming from the qualifiers. The Habs soundly lost to Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska (6-0, 6-2). Instead, it applies to Léolia Jeanjean that she knocked out Australian Kimberly Birrell (6-4, 6-7, 6-3) in the first round in 3:10 of fighting. It was only after her seventh match point that the 27-year-old from Montpellier (WTA No. 124) put an end to the closely contested match.

The fratricidal duels: Umberto annihilates Mannarino, Moutet dismisses Cazaux

Crossed destinies like those of these Frenchmen, opposed from the first round in the Porte d’Auteuil tournament. At least the certainty remains of seeing the Habs appear in the second round. On central court, Ugo Humbert emerged victorious from his duel against Adrian Mannarino (6-3, 6-3, 6-1) without too much suspense. After a great season on clay, Messin thus signs his first victory in the tournament and will face the Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the second round, in a remake of the Monte-Carlo match.


He could therefore cross Andrey Rublev, world number 7, unless Corentin Moutet creates the feat. The Frenchman, who defeated his compatriot Arthur Cazaux in four sets (6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4) in the other French-French duel of the day, will face the Russian in the next round.

The controversy: Marta Kostyuk gets carried away against Russian and Belarusian players

Beaten in straight sets by the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (6-3, 6-2), the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk was silenced by the audience at Philippe-Chatrier’s court by refusing to shake hands with her opponent, accusing her of not taking sides about the conflict in Ukraine. I want to see people’s reaction in ten years when the war is over.”he replied to his detractors at a press conference.

Number two seed Aryna Sabalenka didn't hold back in her first round match against Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk as she won in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.  The two players did not shake hands after the match due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

And Kostyuk, particularly annoyed, to ask for clearer support from his Russian and Belarusian counterparts: “JAnd I don’t know what scares other players. I, when I go back to Ukraine, can die at any moment in a drone or missile attack. So what are they afraid of?”

A few minutes earlier, Sabalenka tried to put out the fire, vowing that “no one, including Russian and Belarusian athletes, could support this war“, without however positioning oneself individually.

The “almost” feat: Lestienne makes Khachanov tremble

For his first Roland-Garros, the 31-year-old Frenchman forced Karen Kachanov to work five sets (3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3), after winning both first innings. But the awakening of the Muscovite got the better of the good dispositions of Amiens, clumsy in the calf at the start of the third set. The Russian qualified for the second round of the tournament for the seventh time in as many appearances at the Porte d’Auteuil.


The surprise: Maria Sakkari eliminated from the entrance

First surprise in the female ranking. Semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2021, Maria Sakkari (n°8 in the world) lost as soon as she entered the tournament, against Karolina Muchova (n°48 WTA). the czech, semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2021, offered the Greek scalp in straight sets, (7-6 [7-5]7-5) after 2:06 of play A scenario that looks like deja vu given that he had already got the better of Sakkari last year, in the second round of the Paris tournament.

The Athens player sinks into uncertainty, she who doesn’t have more than the third round of a Grand Slam since her eighth-final at the Australian Open in 2022. Worse, has multiplied early eliminations in this season’s tournaments, in Miami and Dubai in particular, Roland-Garros has not escaped the rule.

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