An 11-person Australian assault on the French Open is down to one only three days into the rescheduled Grand Slam after Astra Sharma and Daria Gavrilova lost their second round matches.
Only Melburnian Marc Polmans, who plays on Thursday night, remains of a group which didn’t include defending champ Ash Barty or Australia’s number one ranked male Nick Kyrgios.
Both opted out of not just travelling to Paris but to Europe amid COVID-19 fears, instead choosing to stay at home to prepare for the Australian summer and the Australian Open, with officials having sent invitations to the world’s best players pledging to put on the safest possible tournament.
Lowering numbers of coronavirus infections in Melbourne are raising hopes that not only will the top players make it to Australia, they could yet play in front of a limited number of fans.
Tournament organisers are working furiously on a variety of plans to ensure they have an event which can meet all biosecurity requirements but still maintain some of the feel normally associated with the first Grand Slam of the year.
The French Open will be the last Grand Slam for 2020 and Australia’s best hope at Roland Garros, US Open quarter-finalist Alex de Minaur, didn’t even win a set in his opening round loss, with Polmans the only Aussie man to make to the second round.
The women fared marginally better, and Gavrilova even took the first set in her second round clash with comeback girl Eugenie Bouchard. But riding the good vibes of her resurgence, Bouchard eventually took the math 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
“I think I‘ve had tough moments, for sure,” Bouchard, a former Wimbledon finalist, said after her match.
“I think deep down, still believing in myself no matter what, knowing my skill can’t just go away, knowing that I’ve achieved success before.”
Sharma, 25, succumbed in straight sets to Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-3.
“I had five matches now I think here at French Open. Five matches at that sort of level, I mean, that‘s incredible to take away for learning and everything, yeah,” she said.
“I think whenever you play matches at this level, you‘re exposed quite a bit on what you need to work on, what lapsed. Coming to the Australian summer, look, that‘s a few months away still, I got a lot of time, a lot of specific things I need to work on to get better, push these girls at a higher level, yeah.”