We have a blockbuster Saturday coming up in Woop Woop. Wafa faces off first match against a resurgent del Potro. Normally, I would not worry, but given Rafa’s performance in his last two matches, del Potro seems to be in with a chance to win.
In a dystopian world, my anticipation of a Fedal final would be completely derailed by both delPo and Satan.
BUT IT IS OKAY.
Unlike every other tournament, this time in Woop Woop, we get a second chance to reach Dootsie’s ovarian happiness. FEDRINKA plays Dolgopolove and Xman in some kinduva alternative dream doubles final.
Either way, the firelog routine – IT HAS TO HAPPEN. I WILL DIE OF A THOUSAND SQUISHY PENGUINS IF IT HAPPENS.
OOP – STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 R Nadal (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA – DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 4:00 PM
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP – DOUBLES FINAL
There’s a Paris that exists in popular imagination as romantic, delicious and artistic. Symbol of good taste.
Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), that is not the Paris that Roland Garros brings out. The sole slam on clay tends to show the other side of this lovely city – the side that stormed the Bastille and chopped off the king’s head.
So it was with trepidation that I turned on my live stream to watch a few WTA first round clashes. The women’s side has been prone to early top seed wipeouts lately, and Sveta and Venus both had potentially tricky first round opponents. Surprisingly, they both made it through with relative ease, taking out Cirstea 63 61 and Nutty Patty 63 63.
For Sveta, the cloud of defending champ voodoo hung over her head as she quickly got down 0-3 with a string of errors. But as she stepped up to the baseline to serve at 0-3, three of her forehands suddenly found themselves within the lines. She held, gave herself a couple of fist pumps and went on to win 12 of the next 13 games.
Probably the most convincing match I’ve seen Sexlana play since the Australian Open, and didn’t she play it just in time?
(Pity about Sori, with a quarterfinal to defend, looks like she’ll be taking a dive down the rankings.)
As for Venus, the good news is her problem lately hasn’t been the early rounds. The bad news is that it tends to be in the semis or the finals where she completely no-shows.
We’ll see what happens in Paris. Do check out her ‘Lady Marmalade’ inspired outfit though. “Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”
While Sveta and Venus dodged the upset bug, there was no such luck for Vika, who was thoroughly outclassed by Gisela Dulko, 61 62. That Vika should fall to a well-known giant-killer was not surprising. But the score, and the contrast between the hot mess that was Azarenka and the cool cola kid in Dulko didn’t make it pretty for the 10th seed. Dulko played an intelligent match, with just the right mix of guile and consistency to flummox Vika. It was a good time to step up – she’s in a cushy part of the draw.
On the men’s side of things, if Mandy was the Nole of 07, and Delpo was the Mandy of 08, then Cilic is the Delpo of 09 and Ernie is the Cilic of … umm, never mind. Tsonga was supposed to be somebody, I’m just not sure who. In any case, it’s just another ascending scale of non-performance, with a caveat on Del Potro’s injury. And with Roger and Serena winning the Aus Open, and Rafa and Justine in fine form for Roland Garros, 2010 feels a little … well, 2007.
I can live with that.
Day 1 of Roland Garros saw Tsonga taken to 5 sets by Daniel Brands, eventually winning 46 63 62 67 75. An erratic Marin Cilic, at one stage, split sets and went down a break in the third set to Ricardo Mello – a guy who has only won back-to-back tour-level matches once in his career. Cilic eventually prevailed 61 36 63 61, and yet I couldn’t help but remember the Australian Open, where Cilic Peppers persisted erratically, winning tough round after round until bodily fatigue finally wore down an eager heart. Think we’re headed for a repeat? Or worse – an early exit?
With his results lately, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Last week, Rafa and Roger respectably disagreed on whether how much of a player’s clay season performance depends on their performance in the tournaments leading up to Roland Garros, and how much of it depends on what happens in Paris. Gulbis and MJMS rode into Paris on a wave of good publicity after their successes during the European clay circuit. They came looking to cause bangs, but left with nothing but whimpers of pain, as MJ crashed out to Amanmuradova 62 64 and Ernie retired when down to Julien Benneteau 46 26 01 with a hamstring injury.
It’s a shame not to live up to expectations and form, because 3 years from now, I’m not sure how many of us will remember the clay season either of them had.
1. Pete Bodo really wanted to cheer up the Federer gang, it seems. Or yer know … send them into mass hysteria. (clickey, if you’re up for it.)
I say “them”, because I’ve clearly picked myself up off the ground. Once you’ve seen Fed lose to Farty Dish, you’ve seen everything. What else can you do? Frazzle. Freak out. Put on a pug-face and wait for good things around the corner.
My guy’s 28, uninjured, 16-slammed and No 1 in the world. Could be better, could be a lot worse. That, my Fedophiles, is called Federfan Zen. *ommmmmm*
2. On to more cheerful matters… Australia’s successfully through to the World Group play-offs. Dear Draw Gods – SUI v AUS – MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.
3. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, you added superlatives to my day.
Drop shots, volleys, delicious leftiness, one of the smoother serves on the WTA tour. Having only discovered MariHo at the Hopman Cup this year, I’m somewhat late to the bandwagon, but then again, she’s a later bloomer, coming back from a long sabbatical after quitting tennis to take up coaching in her mid-20s.
The comeback was worth it, just for this. Great for the women’s game to see a seasoned, intelligent player defeat a generation of baseline prototypes for a Premier 5. Nothing against the Wozniackis of the tour, but tennis played at different rhythms, varying pace, at the net – it’s a beautiful thing.
And of course, welcome to a career high of 19 my darling. Would you say no to a little picspam?
- Venus in yet another clay court final. Aside from Justine Henin, she has more titles on clay than any other player on the WTA tour. No one saw that coming huh?
- Nestor/Zimonjic v Bryan Bryan: the Fedal equivalent of men’s doubles.
- … There’s some other match on too. It’s not important or anything. (OH MY GAWD OH MY GAWD OH MY GAWD OH MY GAWD)
Manolo Santana (from 13.30hrs)
1. ATP: Nestor/Zimonjic vs. Bryan/Bryan
2. Singles Final: Aravane Rezai vs. Venus Williams (NB 15.30hrs)
3. ATP: Federer vs. Nadal (NB 18.30hrs)
1. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Volleyer extraordinaire. Fist-pump terminator. Natural-born strategist. The tie-dye to the WTA’s field of plain white shirts.
Like red wine, better with age.
Like ginger, hotter over time.
Ahem. So what I’m saying is thankyouthankyouthankyou for being the first player on Ivanovic’s “path to recovery” this week who did not hasten to roll over. Not that Ana hasn’t improved in leaps and bounds over the course of the week – she has reunited with her unwonkified serve, learned to trust her forehand and subjected me to less panicked fist-pumps than usual.
All good signs for her making the second week at Roland Garros at this stage. Yet who knows? Really.
But MariHo? She makes a strong case for taking a sabbatical in the middle of one’s career, no? Rock on, Pepa.
2. The day was also a mixed bag for Ana’s Serbian compatriots. Djokovic retired from the Djokovic Open over in Belgrade after getting down 4-6 to Filip Krajinovic, citing allergies and “other stuff”. Like ear cramps, bird flu, SARS, H1N1…
Explain to me why the boy who cried wolf deserve less than my cynicism?
3. On a better note, Jelena Jankovic became just the 7th women in history to beat both Williamses in the same tournament.
Trivia time: Name the other 6. She’s in good company, that’s for sure.
As for the match? I have no words.
I mean. What? Seriously?
Like … how?
There were double faults, 17 of them in fact from both players. There were errors, dirty, dirty errors. And yet it was theatrical and woeful, it was nervy and passionate. Both players played to win, but neither seemed to deserve the win.
Serena served for the match twice in the third set, and had one match point. She was up 5-2 in the tiebreak, could and should have closed it out. But alas, she caught a bad case of Federeritis.
JJ? She hung on like a leech. And I say that with affection. It was one of those matches that was so awfully bad that it was pure entertainment. Rome, you are no longer dead to me.
4. And then, there was this.
“You know I would not cheat you like that … I’m not – [leans closer] I am not Justine”.
Oh Serena, you couldn’t be more priceless if you tried.
For newbies who don’t keep track of the Great Tennis Scandals of the Twenty-Naughties, let me explain – let me direct you to the “Hand Incident of 2002”.
As Justine Timberlake once wisely said, ‘what goes around (goes around goes around) comes all the way back around’. 8 years later, Serena Williams put up her hand to ask Jankovic to delay serve.
But Lady Jaja waited on no one yo! Janky served, thought it was an ace, but was asked to serve again by the umpire. She protested to no avail and a tide of boos and whistles. Incredibly, Jaja kept her cool and rattled off the next 4 points for the win.
“For me, when the server comes to the line the receiver had to be ready. That’s the rule, right?” Jankovic reflected after the match.
“I just had to regroup and refocus. I didn’t want to waste my energy – and that’s what I basically did.”
As for Serena, despite the loss, she has managed to exceed my expectations this tournament. Considering she could’ve and should’ve won this match, the signs bode well for Roland Garros.
5. Oh, some guy won in Estoril against Clemmy, 76 62. Most of the first set looked like this and smelled like turd:
The second set was a cleaner, more standard affair. Feddykins found his first serve and forehand, clocking a total of 11 winners and 6 unforced errors to wrap up the match.
Let’s hope it was a sign that he has gotten all the potty out of his system.
1. Playing her first tournament since the Australian Open, Serena scored a straight-sets victory over Timea Bacsinszky, 76(2) 61, followed by a slight struggle, 62 36 60, against Andrea Petkovic, who put up a more than respectable effort.
By the way, what’s with Serena’s 5 minute “gossip sessions” at the net these days? What the hail girl? You’re Serena Williams, you really don’t need to be nice to the minions.
2. NINJAAAAA. Somehow the slits work in black.
Also returning from injury, Venus had no trouble dismissing Nutty Patty and Shahar Peer both in straight sets. With her wins being so straight-forward, conversation during the press conference turned unnecessarily to the topic of retirement, with Venus dismissing the idea given her recent results.
“Well, when I’m feeling rotten and no good at tennis then I’ll say to myself ‘get out of here’. But on this wave of wins there is no real need for me to think about quitting. We’ll see.”
Acapulco aside, it is a fact universally acknowledged that the Williamses aren’t well known for their clay-court prowess. But with the fall of other seeds such as Lena Dee, Vika, Carol, Sveta and DinaRICK in Rome, I wonder if Serena and Vee, with their inherent killer instincts, smell a chance just around the corner.
Venus has such a ridiculously beautiful body, just sayin’, but she really does.
3. Sharpen those knives, feast on the carcasses. The “World No 2” crashed out of Rome yesterday, losing in straight sets to my beloved MJMS, whose incessant drop shots were so filled with stealth that she really ought to be arrested.
4. The competition hasn’t been kind to the locals – ARad spared Roberta Vinci just one game in a 6-1 6-0 win over the Italian (before losing to Mrs Birdy), likewise CWoz trounced wild card Maria Elena Camerin before going down to my beloved. Flavs and Franny both crashed out in straight sets second round.
Expectations raised, expectations crucified. It’s like Wimbledon, but for the Italians.
5. When you have nothing more to lose, the only way to go is up. Ana Ivanovic “upset” Vika and Demmy to score her first top 10 victories in … yonks.
Nevermind Vika and Demmy played stale and listless tennis, wins like these matter little for merit, but they matter hugely for morale.
And is there a more demoralised player than Ana Ivanovic in women’s tennis?
I don’t club baby seals for sport, no matter how much I may or may not dislike baby seals. Not when Ivanovic fans are developing something akin to the battered woman syndrome these days anyway.
Good job Ana. She has a doable section of the draw to the final. That said, the minute something becomes ‘doable’ for Miss Muffin is the minute it snaps out of her reach.
PS: oh yeah, some guy won a match in Estoril. No biggie.
I mean … It’s not like I’m having his babies or anything.
Congratulations to Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Miami Champs for 2010.
Don’t you wish you could switch places with Tommy’s diamond encrusted ball right now?
Don’t lie. Unless you’re saying you’d rather swap with Maz Jose’s, in which case I HEAR YA BROTHER/SISTER.
I had expected Spain to win, but not in the fashion that it did.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, my girl crush of the week, never quite found her form against a determined Laura Robson, surrendering to the match 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) to the 15 year-old World No. Godknowswhat.
After that, who expected Great Britain not to pull off a stunning victory?
Disco Tom apparently.
Undaunted by the soon-to-be World No 5 even after losing the first set 1-6, Tommy Rob let completely loose and pulled off his biggest upset of late, outhitting Murray to break even with one win apiece, 1-6 6-4 6-3.
It was a slight choke by Mandy, who had allowed Tommy Rob very few looks on his serve until 4-all in the second set, when the momentum suddenly shifted and Robredo began to up his aggression in an alarming fashion. To think I considered he was a toothless tiger…
And yes, Tommy really wanted Perth’s balls. Linesman didn’t want to give them.
With the final tie going into a decisive mixed doubles match, the Spaniards were at a distinct advantage given Maz’s doubles expertise.
While the first set progressed into a tiebreak after a succession of service breaks, Britain gained itself 3 set points at 6-3. But it’s not over until Tommy Robredo sings. Muzz tensed up once more and shanked a routine backhand, before Robson was overpowered by Robredo’s forehand on the next two points.
MJMS then worked her doubles mojo for the minibreak and converted the set point with a crisp volley.
Throughout the second set, MJMS and Disco Tom worked as a well-oiled machine, putting constant pressure on Loz Rob’s serve. The inevitable break of serve game at 6-5, with a Robredo return-of-serve winner.
Man of the tournament.
I’m not saying anything.
Despite his loss, Mandy remained bullish about his Open chances.
“I think I’m ready to win it. I just need to play well, if I do that then there’s no reason why I can’t,” Murray said.
“I feel like I’m serving well, moving well and playing the ball better than I have done for a long time in the back of the court and volleyed well this week. So there’s not a whole lot to complain about.”
“I’m sure if you ask (Roger) Federer how he’s feeling this week going into Australia after losing to (Nikolay) Davydenko (in Qatar), I’m pretty sure it’s not going to put a whole lot of doubts into his mind,” Murray said.
Lastly, a warm-fuzzy photo with the tournament Dowager, Mrs Hopman.