Tick-tock: In Paris, patience is important on clay

It was a wonderful day in Paris. It was sunny, it was warm, and the fans were smiling. But, on court, in the first Sunday, there were some important losers.

Venus Williams went down, so did Jo Konta, and somewhat shockingly, Jelena Ostapenko , the 2017 RG champion. She said: ‘It was terrible day at the office for me. In general I played maybe like 20% of what I can play. Made like 50 unforced errors and so many double faults. Like I couldn’t serve. Everything together just brought me a really bad result.”

Oh, yes, she did.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure. But, not for everyone, because certain mediocre people don’t think they have a chance to win it all, and that is too bad.

Venus Williams can still play fantastic at times. In two weeks, she will be 38 years old. She is still a top 10 player, and she will play until 40 years old, at least, assuming she is healthy. But that is a long time. Against Wang Qiang, Venus changed her tactics repeatedly, but she couldn’t keep it inside the baseline, spraying 35 unforced errors. On clay, she just can’t figure it out. She may never do that. But really, Wang played aggressive and very thoughtfully. She is an excellent doubles player, but maybe now Wang will feel better in the singles? We will find out, immediately. 

In the first half of 2017, Konta was bashing the ball and she cracked the top 10 after winning Miami. But since then, she has slipped, and she is pretty confused. She has to shake it off. 

The good thing on Sunday among the women was Sloane Stephens, who blasted her foe, Arantxa Rus. Alize Cornet came back and knocked off Sara Errani in three sets, and the No. 4 Elina Svitolina really has a chance to grab the title. If she contains herself.  

Among the men, a few of the top guys won pretty eroundasily, with Grigor Dimitrov, Alexandra Zverev and Dominic Thiem sailing into the second round. Dimitrov won the 2017 ATP Finals, and he was rising quickly, but this year, he has been so-so. He actually really likes playing on clay, and he said that every year, he has improved, sliding around, slicing it, topping it. But can he won RG for the first time? Or even reach the semis? He has to step up, and he has to be very calm at the Slams, because he has yet to win a major. Even any tournament this season. Tick-tock.  

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