PARIS—Australian men are out at the French Open, as Sam Groth, partnering with Swedish veteran Robert Lindstedt, went down yesterday in the third round.
It was a bitter defeat for Groth, whose good nature and huge serve-and-volley game are feared and admired on the men’s Tour. Australian men are also out of the singles draw, in which Groth did not enter.
In the end the deep experience of Serb doubles star Nenad Zimonjic, with the Spanish clay court specialist Fernando Verdasco – who is on a fantastic run in the singles draw – beat the Groth-Lindstedt tandem with both power and tactics.
Verdasco put away returns of serve to the net ruthlessly and placed his topspin rockets down the line once he got the feel for the rhythm of the match, much quicker than in singles.
Zimonjik quarterbacked his side with accurate calls on spin and shot choice. He also closed out the match with two big serves.
Groth played a tenacious all-court game through the first set but began losing control of his baseline groundstrokes midway through the second, a weakness Verdasco exploited as he shot his big forehands to the backcourt.
Lindstedt, at 46 one of the most respected doubles players in the sport, lacked the steady sharpness that beat the mighty American team of Mike and Bob Bryan in the second round. Frustrated, the Aussie-Swedish team faltered, 6-2, 6-4.
Meanwhile, a controversy erupted in Australia over statements made by former superstar Margaret Court in defense of traditional marriage and family.
She opined last week that lesbianism on the women’s tour has a corrupting influence on young players.
A number of players criticized Court for her statements, with Roland Garros top seed Andy Murray saying that people’s sexual orientation “is not anyone else’s business,” according to the Sun.
There are calls to change the name of the Melbourne stadium named for Margaret Court, an idea judged inappropriate by Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Samantha Stosur, the top Australian at the French Open, criticized Miss Court but suggested waiting till next year’s open at Melbourne to test the prevailing sentiment on the name issue.
The most successful Aussie player in history, Miss Court is a Christian pastor who does not shy from expressing her views. American gay rights advocates, she said, would pour money into a campaign against her
Australian doubles star Casey Dellacqua, whom in the past Miss Court has criticized for parenting children with her gay partner, stated that “enough is enough,” without suggesting measures to “make her platform smaller,” as demanded by stadium-name-change supporter Martina Navratilova.
Miss Dellacqua advanced to the fourth round of the doubles draw, teaming with Ashleigh Barty on Court No. 1. Whether the Margaret Court controversy goes anywhere remains to be seen.