French Open 2017: tennis champions slow from the start as China do their thing

Reigning champion Tsonga knocked out in straight sets by Dudi Sela, while home nation cause major upset with Djokovic trouncing Peng

A home doubles triumph combined with a shock triumph for China over Rafael Nadal gave fans hope for this week’s French Open. But hopes of an upset win of the men’s final waned when Novak Djokovic put a performance that pales in comparison to the power of Rafael Nadal to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

At Roland Garros, meanwhile, a moment of unexpected joy for fans erupted during Wednesday’s doubles semi-final when Chinese doubles duo Peng Shuai and Zhang Ze upset Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) as the fans cheered on the last remaining French pair competing at the women’s tournament.

Peng and Zhang Zhu of China celebrate winning a doubles match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut, of France, during the French Open. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

“I hope this experience gives us some good momentum for the future,” said Zhang, 20, who revealed she received a text message from her idol Li Na. “We showed that Chinese players can play as good as the rest of the players,” Zhang added.

The victory for her compatriots came just a day after spectators witnessed the first upset of the tournament, when seventh seed Latvian Jelena Ostapenko lost in straight sets to Russian Kristina Mladenovic. The match sparked a roar from the 20,000 fans that will no doubt leave them feeling a bit more confident about keeping their grand slam dreams alive.

Russian doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic celebrates after defeating Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, of Latvia, in the French Open women’s singles. Photograph: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/EPA

Britain’s Johanna Konta also won a match, overcoming Sara Errani 6-1, 6-2.

But not even wins over two of the tournament’s biggest stars can mask the fact that on Wednesday, 2017’s French Open suffered a setback – a massive one. Nadal, who is a seven-time champion at Roland Garros, lost to Russia’s Dudi Sela, a player ranked at 457th in the world.

Novak Djokovic did not struggle too much in the quarter-finals and was easily able to dispense with Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.

Andy Murray’s poor showing also proved not to be an aberration as the Swiss star, seeded fourth, lost a close battle with German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

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