No players in all of tennis are seen through the prism of missed opportunities more than Simona Halep and Aga Radwanska. Both are supremely creative shotmakers who have won important titles and carved out homes in the top five, yet have fallen short of winning majors due to lack of power, occasional moodiness and the failure to take advantage of advantageous draws.
Many people will see that they washed out of Roland Garros in the fourth round — Halep to 32-year-old former French Open finalist Sam Stosur 7-6 (0), 6-3, and Radwanska to 102nd-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 3-6, 3-6 — and assume they came up small in a big moment again. Heck, some who actually watched the matches came away with that impression.
However, both deserve a pass on this occasion for multiple reasons, primarily because of the weather. For the second straight day, rain ruined the order of play, with weekend finals no longer guaranteed. If Halep and Radwanska had gotten punished from the jump, then their losses would have merited deeper examination, except that’s not the case.
When play was suspended on Sunday, Radwanska led 6-2, 3-0 and Halep was in front 5-3. By the time they resumed two days later, the conditions were highly detrimental to their games, especially Radwanska’s, not to mention dangerous.
Practically playing in sludge with balls that quickly absorbed moisture and the clay itself, Radwanska lost the first 10 games and required an injury timeout for her forearm (which men’s player Marcel Granollers also needed), saying after the match that a prior hand surgery made attempting to hit through nearly impossible.
Both criticized the tournament in press, a rarity for a player as reserved as Halep. Angry over being made to play through the constant rain, Halep said “No one cares about the players in my opinion,” and that she was close to a back injury. Radwanska went even further:
Agnieszka Radwanska not happy to have to play in the rain. “It’s not a 10k tournament. It’s a Grand Slam.” pic.twitter.com/KHsUtfz5pR
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 31, 2016
To be clear, the conditions take nothing away from Stosur and Pironkova, who will face each other in the quarterfinals. They handled the circumstances better and sometimes the scheduling and weather breaks just go that way in tennis. Just hold off the hot takes on Halep and Radwanska. Their stories are to be continued, and the wait won’t be long with Wimbledon only a month away.
Elsewhere on Tuesday:
— Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament during the day’s first playable session. After falling behind 6-3 to Roberto Bautista Agut, Djokovic struggled to take the second, twice giving a break back. He eventually took it 6-4 though and leads 4-1 in the third going into Wednesday. The soaked court (and balls) required Djokovic to occasionally hit a handful of winners just to win a point, and he reached at his upper back a couple of times. Given the compressed schedule and damp conditions that aren’t going away, that’s something to keep an eye on.
— After a 6-2 first set, Dominic Thiem had a chance at a commanding lead over the aforementioned Granollers, but dropped the second set tiebreaker before play was halted. He also took a decent spill:
— The Tomas Berdych/David Ferrer and David Goffin/Ernests Gulbis matches only got three games in. The former is on serve, Ferrer 2-1, while Gulbis is up a break, 3-0.
— The top half of the women’s draw didn’t even start, nor did the quarterfinals on the men’s bottom half. Andy Murray used his off day to sit in on Djokovic’s match.
Wednesday’s marquee matches:
Whatever weather allows. Everyone listed above, plus the Williams sisters, Stan Wawrinka, Garbine Muguruza and Madison Keys are scheduled to take the court.