Top 10: The French Open So Far

26 May

So the French Open has been ongoing for a few days now and by now we know who is in form, who isn’t and who’s feeling the pressure (Wozniacki much?); it’s nearing that moment where the nervous energy of the first few days of a grand slam ceases to exist, and the favourites start to play at their fluent best. Several notable happenings have been observed at the French Open thus far. Not quite making the top 10, but worthy of at least a mention is Vera Zvonareva’s almost loss to Sabine Lisicki, and Lisicki’s subsequent meltdown, which included her being carried off court on a stretcher presumably due to cramping. The losses suffered by sixth seed Tomas Berdych, and Ana Ivanovic, the 20th seed and  former winner, definitely warrant a mention. Both lost to players not expected to proceed beyond the first round, in the shape of world number 140, Robert Stephane and virtual unknown Johanna Larsson, respectively. And then the last French Open factoid to make it into this article before we start with the official list, is that tennis, oops make that #tennis is huge on twitter. Not only are plenty of big players using the platform to communicate directly with their fans, the fans are also using it to make their voices heard loud and clear; #frenchopen and #rolandgarros have been trending topics in various countries over the past few days.

At number ten we have the success being experienced by the players favouring the clay surface. David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Jurgen Melzer and even Albert Montanes, along with their female counterparts in the form of Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova have made it through the draw with relative ease thus far. Watch out for a few of these players to put in a semi final run. Defending finalists, Stosur and Schiavone, should rightfully of course, be considered title contenders.

Sam Stosur easily wins her 2nd round match.
The dresses and other fashion statements of the French Open rank at number nine. Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been playing with black stripes underneath her eyes, not unlike the ones that might be seen on the snarling faces of NFL players. As always her press conferences have centred on her attire and appearance more than anything else, she has even been attributed the moniker Lady Gaga of tennis. To her credit, she draws a lot of attention which the game would not generally get and she is also now the top ranked US women’s players. In addition to Mattek-Sands’ eccentricities, the fashion contest which emerges at every grand slam, has for my money been won by Sharapova. Her Eiffel Tower inspired dress, in an understated canary yellow shade is rounded off by a set of Tiffany earrings with which no other player can compete. Honorable mentions do however go to Wozniacki for her ruffled dress and Ivanovic for her hot pink number.

Mattek-Sands and her black stripes.

Enough of the fluff which surrounds tennis, at number eight we have the comebacks happening at Roland Garros. While we missed out on Amelie Mauresmo pairing with Michael Llodra in the mixed due to her not being part of the anti-doping programs in tennis for the past few years, and as a result not being allowed to enter, we still got to see Kim Clijsters (sometimes horrendous) but ultimately satisfying return to the game after months out due to a wedding reception injury. In addition, 2004 winner, Anastasia Myskina, has made a return to the game, in the form of coach to the lately struggling Kuznetsova.

Ranking number seven on my list of moments to remember is the 2nd round match between Wozniacki and Aleksandra Wozniak. Not only did the world number one struggle quite a bit in the second set, but she also proceeded to make a 3 minute fuss about a line call she disagreed with. Maybe a little bit of gamesmanship? The crowd did not appreciate her insistence, and there were some jeers to be heard when she left the court after winning the match five points later. To further add fuel to the fire, her father and coach, stormed out of the stadium and mentioned to journalists the fact that Wozniacki did not stick to the tactics set out for the match. He seemed quite unhappy with his 20-year old daughter. All-in-all this match seemed to indicate that Wozniacki is feeling the pressure of being number one in the world (and no grand slam title as of yet.) This match by Wozniacki and Clijsters’ erratic play (As I write this, the Rus-Clijsters match has gone into a third set) seems to make Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka the favourites for the title at this point.

Caro Wozniacki unhappy about a line call.

Several players that qualify the French Open as their home tournament, have made it past the first few round of tennis; the French supporters have come out  in hordes, and with soccer chants to boot. In addition, the organisers have scheduled the matches in such a fashion that the matches of the top French players have often been the most high-profile of their time slots, thereby ensuring the French players receive TV coverage all over the world. Looking after their own is an attribute the French certainly deserve, and as a result the French rank sixth on this list.

The Babolat tennis balls being used for the first time at Roland Garros make the list. They are apparently faster, harder and clearly advantage the hard-hitting players in the game. Criticism of the decision to change the balls have been widely received from players. Roger Federer has made it clear that it is not so much these balls specifically, but rather the fact that all the tournaments in the lead-up to the French use different one’s – the Dunlop balls previously in use at Roland Garros, meaning a transition is required. This is not ideally suited to the players of course. The attention that the tennis balls, and the knock which Babolat have taken as a result, qualifies for this list in fifth position.

Roger Federer with the new Babolat balls.

The manner in which Federer and Novak Djokovic have won their matches at the French thus far, leads to the pair making the list at number four. Both have been incredibly efficient and have sent a clear message that the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, might be dethroned for the 2nd time in three years at RG. Djokovic with his 40+ match winning streak is of course expected to perform in the manner that he has, it is the play of Federer that has surprised the many who have written of the 16-time grand slam winner.

Making my list at number three is the appearance of Virginie Razzano in the tournament so soon after she suffered such an intense personal loss. I was quite unsure about including this on my list, but eventually decided that the bravery and courage shown by Razzano by playing to honour of her deceased fiance, deserves recognition on every possible platform. As such I make mention of her emotion heavy first round loss to Jarmila Gadjosova.

At number two is the success of the 10 top ranked women in tennis. Not a single upset among the  lot of them yet! It probably shouldn’t rank so highly on the list, but with the inconsistency of the women’s game, any validation of the women’s game and the WTA rankings has to be considered invaluable. (Update: I spoke far too soon; Kim Clijsters has just lost her match to Arantxa Rus, nevertheless 9 out of 10 isn’t too bad.)

At number one we have Oprah, ending her show after 25 years, what a run! Yeah, I’m kidding. The match between Nadal and John Isner is my top moment of the last few days of tennis. The match showed the value of being able to hold serve – Isner being able to take Nadal to 6-6 in two sets, lead to him being able to take those sets in tie breakers. It also showed that Isner should be higher ranked, and should perhaps be working a little harder at winning matches against players ranked lower than him, and not only coming to play in high-profile matches; thereby putting himself in a position where he doesn’t have to play Nadal in the first round at a major. Furthermore, this match indicates that Nadal is not in as good form as he usually is before the French Open. He truly struggled to pass Isner consistently, and definitely did not get as many balls back as he did circa 2008 at RG. If Djokovic manages to beat Juan Martin del Potro in convincing manner, I might even change my pick for the title from Nadal to Djokovic.

World number 1 and defending champion, Rafael Nadal, celebrates upon reaching the 2nd round at Roland Garros.

 

Please note: Images can be clicked to link to the source thereof. Also feel free to comment and if you like  the blog entry, recommend it via twitter, facebook or stumbleupon below. S

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13 Responses to “Top 10: The French Open So Far”

  1. shafana hussain May 26, 2011 at 4:16 PM #

    hey.. another good work.. keeping your views as points to the readers is one of the great writing style i guess.. top 5,4,3 and 2 points are too good.. you can write better.. i mean crisp things about positive and negative aspects of players according to their rounds.. what are the mistakes they did that costs their match.. don’t mind im just giving you suggestion.. if you don’t like it then please do ignore it..

    • schroeds May 26, 2011 at 4:34 PM #

      Thanks, I appreciate your opinion. Will try to incorporate your pointers in my next blog posts. Enjoy the rest of the open!

  2. Lauren May 26, 2011 at 4:51 PM #

    hey. thanks for the message. Like the blog. Nice to find other tennis bloggers 🙂

    • schroeds May 26, 2011 at 4:57 PM #

      Likewise 🙂 Thanks for taking the time. I’ll be following your blog via email.

  3. Robert Madison May 26, 2011 at 5:22 PM #

    Nicely done Schroeds! (I found your blog via your post on my blog: http://tencaptennis.wordpress.com/)

    http://tencaptennis.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/match-stats-how-nadal-beat-isner/

    Gotcha bookmarked now!

  4. RC May 26, 2011 at 7:20 PM #

    Yes the nadal-isner match was a memorable one. It was unfortunate for isner to have his
    First round against no. 1. But rafa’s rally today on third set against a shockingly smart and physically fit andujar shows that we cannot discount nadal as yet.

  5. Ngwakwana Asnath May 26, 2011 at 7:37 PM #

    Awesome I was a bit worried when you @mentioned me on twitter thinking you just another chancer in the blogging world but after reading your blogs I’m impressed being a huge tennis fan and player. Lekker stuff Boet will come back for more and looking forward to twitting with you. Awe

  6. singingfolife May 27, 2011 at 1:21 AM #

    First let’s get real! Women’s tennis is nothing without Venus&Serena Williams. With 20 grand slams between them, they are the only intimidating players in the game! Even a win against them temporarily elevates player’s confidence and ranking (ie:Pironkova,Clijsters). On the women’s side I like gutsy dark horses like Goerges (my top pick) and Wickmeyer. They’re both agressive,confident,competitive and Goerges has no problem raising her level of play. Any other win will be a yawnfest with lots of errors and defensive play.

  7. Scott May 27, 2011 at 1:28 AM #

    Nice blog! Here’s a thought, del potro on a hard fast sunny court with fast balls upsets Novak. Fair calls about the balls by fed, it would be ironic if nadal loses here and the babolat balls play a part. Wilson us open ball easily best in the world.

    • schroeds May 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

      Quite a horrible irony for him 🙂 Think the Del Potro – Djok match will make for some great viewing, enjoy today’s tennis!

  8. SnaZiness May 27, 2011 at 8:04 AM #

    Wonderful post! Was incredibly surprised (and awed) by Virginie’s appearance too.

    • schroeds May 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

      Thanks, appreciate you reading. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Analysis Of Women’s Draw At Roland Garros 2.0 « - May 27, 2011

    […] under the extreme pressure she is under had already begun to show the previous round, by her resorting to minor gamesmanship to throw her opponent off. In addition Daniela Hantuchova is consistently a tough competitor and […]

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