The tennis season is divided in such a way that the four top level tournaments called the Majors or Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) are held at regular intervals. In between, players compete in tournaments that prepare for a particular Slam.
During these events, players attempt to improve their ranking, through which they can be ranked higher in the main draw of a Major. The advantage of being seeded is that you avoid higher ranked opponents until much later in the draw. If the seeded player loses in the early rounds to a lower ranked, less experienced opponent, they are labeled “upset”.
The 2022 French Open has seen many of these upheavals. In the men’s draw, a first runner-up was guaranteed ahead of the quarter-finals. In the women’s draw, only one of the top 10 seeds advanced to the fourth round, which was only held for the second time in the Open Era.
Here is an overview of the six main surprises at the French Open 2022:
#6 Hugo Gaston against Alex de Minaur
This year turned out to be Alex de Minaur’s best clay-court season since turning professional in 2015. De Minaur, a semi-finalist in Lyon and Barcelona, faced Hugo Gaston in the first round.
Gaston has played six matches on clay (all levels combined) before the 2022 French Open and has lost five of them. It was the first meeting between the two players and de Minaur won the first set 6-4 in just under an hour.
Within the hour and a half that followed, the Frenchman burst into the game winning the next two sets. An upheaval was on the cards. But a 6-0 rout in 30 minutes by the Australian gave the impression that he would conclude the game in the decider. The momentum was strongly in de Minaur’s favor as he won the first three games of the fifth set to win nine games in a row.
In a crazy turn of events, the Frenchman made a comeback as he had twice the chance to serve in the game. But each time it was de Minaur who collapsed.
The 10-point tie-break in the final set decided the match in Gaston’s favor in just over four hours. A total of 21 service breaks were exchanged throughout the game.
#5 Karolina Pliskova against Leolia Jeanjean
Former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova has not played the second week of French Open since finishing in the semi-finals in 2017. Seeded eighth, she beat wildcard Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6 6-3 6-1.
The Czech faced another French player, Leolia Jeanjean, in the second round, who also entered the main draw as a wild card. Ranked world No. 227, Jeanjean made her Grand Slam debut at the 2022 French Open.
It took just 77 minutes for Jeanjean to upset the former world number one, losing just four games in the process. Jeanjean held serve throughout the match and won 77% of his first service points. Pliskova’s unforced errors amounted to 28 as the reigning Wimbledon runner-up retired in the second round for the second straight year at Roland Garros.
#4 Holger Rune vs. Denis Shapovalov
In his first appearance in the French Open main draw, 19-year-old Holger Rune drew 14th-seeded Denis Shapovalov in the first round. Prior to his first-round loss in Geneva the week before Roland Garros, Shapovalov beat clay king Rafael Nadal in his quarter-final at the Rome Masters. The Canadian faced Rune for the first time in his career.
Rune spent two hours on Court 12 to defeat the error-prone Shapovalov in straight sets. The Dane, who won his maiden tour-level title in Munich last month, won 76% and 69% of his first- and second-serve points respectively. However, the junior world No. 1 and 2019 French Open boys champion was yet to finish.
#3 Holger Rune vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
Rune went on an impressive streak of straight-set wins over Henri Laaksonen and Hugo Gaston in the second and third rounds. In the fourth round, he faced last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas. Unlike Rune, the Greek had to struggle to advance to the fourth round with hard-fought wins over Lorenzo Musetti and Zdenek Kolar.
Rune fired 54 winners to Tsitsipas’ 41 and knocked out the fourth seed in four sets in three hours and four minutes. It was the first time a Dane reached the quarter-finals of a Major. Rune would end up losing in the quarter-finals to fellow Scandinavian and eventual finalist Casper Ruud.
#2 Ons Jabeur vs. Magda Linette
Going into the 2022 French Open, Ons Jabeur has had an 85% win rate on clay this season. The 2022 Madrid champion was the sixth seed at Roland Garros and faced Magda Linette in the first round.
Linette lost nine of her 15 clay court matches before the Slam and trailed Jabeur 1-3 in their one-on-one. Jabeur won the first set 6-3. However, the Pole made a comeback taking the next two sets to complete the upset.
Linette won 22 of the 29 points in which she came close to the net, which was instrumental in her victory. She lost in the next round to eventual semi-finalist Martina Trevisan.
#1 Barbora Krejcikova vs. Diane Parry
Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova had been sidelined from the tour since February 2022 due to an elbow injury. She returned to Roland Garros as the second seed. Drawing home favorite Diane Parry in the first round, Krejcikova appeared to have shrugged off her injury struggles as she won the first set in 33 minutes.
But with a drop in her first-serve percentage and 45 unforced errors by the end of the game, the second seed lost to the teenager 1-6 6-2 6-3 under a closed roof at Philippe-Chatrier Court .
It was only the third time in the Open era that the reigning French Open champion had lost in the first round. Parry lost in the third round to Sloane Stephens.