British hopes in the men’s draw came to a premature end as Kyle Edmund was forced to retire midway through his second round match against Pablo Cuevas as a result of a knee injury, a recurrence of the injury which had blighted much of his season this year.
There’s no exact formula to fix things or get things better. You just have to do the best you can to get it better Kyle Edmund
The 24-year-old 28th seeded player was two sets down to the Uruguayan and trailing in the third before retiring at Roland Garros.
The Yorkshireman had come through a tough five-setter earlier in the week, when he defeated Jeremy Chardy in the opening round, and started slowly against Cuevas.
Trailing from the opening moments, Edmund recovered to level and force a tie break, which he lost 7-3. His game subsequently dropped off as the Uruguayan swept through the second 6-3. It became clear at the start of the third that his movement was being restricted and when he called for the trainer the decision was made to retire when 2-1 down.
It was Edmund’s fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament and if he had beaten Cuevas, the Johannesburg-born Brit would have reached round three for a third consecutive year.
Whether the injury will prevent him from playing the grass court events, including Wimbledon, is not known.
“There’s no exact formula to fix things or get things better,” Edmund, said at his post match press conference. “You just have to do the best you can to get it better.”
An MRI scan has proved inconclusive despite the knee giving him problems since the Paris Masters last November. The pain, he said, “Becomes part of your life, waking up with something a little bit sore, so you get on with it. In a weird way you take enjoyment by pushing through it and achieving things.”
In other action Juan Martin del Potro survived a thrilling five-setter against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to progress into the third round.
The former US Open champion was pushed for over three and a quarter hours by the world number 72, eventually clinching a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 6-2 victory on Court Simonne Mathieu.
DelPo, a two-time semi-finalist at Roland Garros, who fired 17 aces and 69 winners, became the last of the top eight seeds to reach the last 32, a feat which has now been achieved these past five years.
The 30-year-old will play Jordan Thompson for a place in the second week, the Australian having quietly come through his two matches in contrast to the actions and statements of both Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.
Thompson is in fact the last Aussie left standing in the men’s draw as he steps into the last 32 following an excellent 6-3 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 win over Ivo Karlovic, having seen his compatriots – Tomic, Alex de Minaur, Matthew Ebden, John Millman and Alexei Popyrin – all fall n the opening rounds. Kyrgios withdrew before the opening day declaring the event ‘sucked’.
“I am very happy to go under the radar, I’m usually a man of few words,” said world number 69 Thompson. “They (Kyrgios and Tomic) take all the headlines. Alex is our number one and he’s a quality player. But I don’t think even he gets that much of the limelight. I think he’s pretty happy with that as well.”
He concluded: “I am low down in the pecking order and that’s fine with me.”
Thompson’s win over 40-year-old Karlovic was sweet revenge for the five-set defeat he suffered to the giant Croatian in Paris in 2016, losing the final set 12-10.
“The key with Ivo is not to go serve-to-serve,” said Thompson of an opponent who unleashed 23 aces and 57 winners in their second-round match.
“I knew that would not work out well so I just tried to move him around and dictate the points.”
“But it’s hard to play someone like that, he gives you no rhythm at all.
“It’s hard to say the tennis was any good because there weren’t that many rallies going on.”
Looking ahead at facing another ‘big’ player, the Tower of Tandil, Thompson reflected: “Del Potro is a big unit, serves well, has a huge forehand, his backhand isn’t bad either. He’s just good all round, he’s a quality top 10 player.
“I am in the third round of a Slam for the first time. I don’t want it to stop here,” said Thompson.
Other notable results from the fifth day of play was the swift 6-1 6-4 6-3 win by the top seed and world number one, Novak Djokovic, over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen and the defeat of Fernando Verdasco, who crashed out to Antoine Hoang of France 6-4 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5.