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Parting shots

Fifty random musings from Roland Garros

Posted: Sunday June 5, 2005 11:12PM; Updated: Monday June 6, 2005 9:53AM
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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal's 24-match win streak is the longest by a male teenager in the Open era.
Bob Martin/SI

Cleaning out the notebook from Roland Garros. Herewith, 50 scattered thoughts ...

1. Rafael Nadal showed as much mettle beating Mariano Puerta in the (surprisingly entertaining) French Open final as he did beating Roger Federer a round earlier. There's an inevitable letdown after beating the world's No.1; your nerves surface, you're off your game, the other guy is swinging away with reckless abandon, the crowd wants the underdog to win, the conditions are less than ideal. When you still find a way to grind out the win, it says a lot.

2. Justine (Allez cat) Henin-Hardenne, the women's champion, has now won four of the last seven majors she's entered. She staves off match points against poor Svetlana Kuznetsova in round four and then doesn't drop a set. In fact, her destruction of Mary Pierce in the final was her toughest match of the tournament.

3. Did we read right, Nadal is entered in the singles AND DOUBLES in Halle this week? Nadal on grass is an intriguing prospect, but boy has he played a lot of tennis heading into the tournament.

4. What's this we hear that Larry Brown has been furtively interviewing for Tony Roche's job?

5.The most feared weapon in women's tennis is Henin-Hardenne's guts. It is she -- and not Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova -- who now has the regal aura and intimidation factor good for a few games a set.

6. Answer: Igor Andreev. Question: Who was the last player to have beaten Nadal?

7. On his 25th birthday Marat Safin beat Federer in the Australian Open semifinals. On his 19th birthday, Nadal beat Federer in the French Open semifinals. Coincidence? Hildegard Vandromme of Brussels notes that Joachim Johansson has a birthday on July 1. Hmmm.

8. Federer has lost three matches all year and hasn't reached a Grand Slam final. Think he might fear Nadal a little? He is 1-2 against him with the one win coming on hard courts when he was two points from defeat.

9. Who says Americans can't play on clay? The Bryan Brothers reached the French Open final before wilting in the third set against Max Mirnyi and Jonas Bjorkman. The Bryans are a terrific team and a lot of fun to watch; but their record in finals is troubling at best.

10. Unseeded Marin Cilic of Croatia beat Antal Van de Duim to win the boys title. Agnes Szavay beat Raluca Olaru of Romania to win the girls championship.

11. Is there a more underrated tennis story than the success of Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez? After beating Cara Black and Liezel Huber in the final, they won their eighth Grand Slam title.

12. The incongruous team of Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro and Daniela Hantuchova won the mixed doubles, beating the ageless Martina Navratilova and Leander Paes in the finals.

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