Third time’s the charm?

Winning is never a bad thing, but for Sam Stosur, I suspect she probably doesn’t need the win. As far as clay season form goes, she has already established herself as a force to be reckoned with, now on an 11-match winning streak. The worst thing for her going into Roland Garros this year is 1) knowing that she’s a contender, 2) feeling the pressure of defending a semifinal.

It showed yesterday, as she was put through the wringer by Anna La Push, down 2-5 in the first set before she woke up and start getting balls over the net and within the lines. In the end, no harm was done – Stosur saw off the surprise semifinalist 75 63.

On the other hand, Justine Henin’s problem is precisely that she needs the win to get the first title monkey off her back. Since returning to the tour, Henin has been in 3 finals and a semifinal in 5 tournament. It’s shiny, but it hasn’t brought her a title.

In defusing Shahar Peer’s relentless attack yesterday, there was little perceived to be wrong with her game. The forehand has settled down in its more compact form. Watching Henin on clay again after a 2 year break, I was reminded of all the little things that made her a Roland Garros champion man times over – the tenacity, the movement, the way she instinctively knew how to slide into her shots … But she needs a title, if only to make this comeback tour “official”.

Over on the penis side of things, I heard Rafa and Ernie put on a show. By “heard”, what I mean is that I was asleep by the end of the first set, thinking that the world was in order. Damn you, time zones!

Funnily though, a tough 3 setter was precisely what Nadal needed at this stage in his return from the graveyards (by his own lofty standards).

As for Ernie? Too many beautiful losses, and the one ugly win he did manage to get was against the guy I never wanted to lose. And let’s face – it was ugly, gloriously ugly, in a “U-G-L-Y, they ain’t got no alibi” kinda way. Like I said, I have no time for the next Tomas Berdych, so show me you can be the next Marin and Delpo, Ernie, and then we can talk.

Because I’m sick of players coming into the fringe of my attention field before disappearing into the wilderness again.

In the other semi of the day, Ferrer defeated Verdasco in straight sets for a place in the Rome final after being down 1-5 in the first set. Not much to it – having won Barcelona and made the final in Monte Carlo, I think we can safely say that Verdasco needed a breather. Not that I’m saying he tanked, but it wasn’t like he was ever going to get a “breather” against Nadal. Losing in the semi may not be a bad idea.

Final predictions? No need to go on a limb, Rafa and Henin, but closer than you might expect.

xx doots


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