Fifty thoughts from Roland Garros
Does Rafal Nadal's latest French Open title make him the Wimbledon favorite?
How will Sam Stosur react to a heroic run that ended in a disappointing loss?
Is it time to regard the Williamses as the Greatest Doubles Team of All Time?
Scattered thoughts after a weirdly endearing French Open:
Rafael Nadal exorcises 2009 (and exercises his clay-court peerlessness), winning the men's title yet again. He completes an undefeated clay-court season and -- what must really demoralize the field -- was not at his absolute best in Paris yet was barely tested. Let this discussion begin: Is he now the Wimbledon favorite?
Again, I suspect there were two reactions to Francesca Schiavone's title. Groans from the marketing types and those invested in the ratings; unremitting smiles from everyone else. What a great display of passion. And let's be clear: she WON that final. For all the nervous performances we've seen lately, here's a 29-year-old veteran who essentially says, "I may never get this chance again, so I'm going to play the match of my life." As one of you noted, we got what we expected: an undersized and gutsy fighter with a one-handed backhand took the French Open title.
Robin Soderling pulls a massive upset (Roger Federer, obviously) and reaches the final for the second straight year. One wishes his game had a few more gears, but is there a more dangerous player on a given day?
From Venus' outfit to Federer and Serena losing, to the spirited women's final, what a wild event. Pretty much underscores everything endearing, maddening and outré about our sport.
So you're Sam Stosur. Do you walk away from this thinking a) "I beat Justine Henin on clay. Out-Serena-ed Serena. And tuned favored Jelena Jankovic in the semifinal. There's no reason I can't be a top player." Or b): I was given a tremendous opportunity, the chance to play Francesca Schiavione for a Grand Slam title, and I couldn't close the deal." The amateur sports shrink will be very interested to see how Stosur acquits herself the rest of the year. Stosur had a breakthrough event; let's hope she perceives it as such.
Every coach of a top-50 player should be armed with a highlight DVD of Schiavone's French Open matches. You fight your way through the draw. You grind out some wins. You catch a bit of luck when your semifinal opponent -- on paper the superior player -- pulls up lame after a set. You play the match of your life in the final. Presto, you are a Grand Slam champion.
In what's nearly become a ritual, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took the doubles title, beating Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy in the final. Zimonjic goes over the $5 million mark in career prize money. Pretty good for guy most avid fans would be hard-pressed to identify.
Nice to see Tomas Berdych string together some fine wins and make the semis. Would have been nice to have seen a bit more conviction in the fifth set. But you get the feeling the kid is coming along.
Realistically, Jurgen Melzer is unlikely to return to the semis of a Slam. But is there not something heartening about results like this, an honorable journeyman who scores a career win (in this case the five-setter over Novak Djokovic), makes a big payday, and can tell his grandkids he was a Grand Slam semifinalist.
Venus and Serena won still another Grand Slam doubles title. So when do we begin talking about the Williams sisters as the Greatest Doubles Team of All Time? And when does this start having a meaningful impact on their overall legacy?
Zimonjic was in the winners' circle twice, taking the mixed event with Katarina Srebotnik.
Your junior results.
Special commendations to Martina Navratilova, who, we hear, underwent radiation treatment in the morning and broadcasted matches in the afternoon.
Compare Federer's reaction losing to Nadal in Australia in 2009 to his reaction losing to Soderling in Paris.
Example 5,452 of Federer's fundamental decency: After losing a dispiriting match to Soderling -- ending his semifinal streak, precluding a title defense, etc. -- he not only kept his commitment to attend the ITF dinner but sent his parents in advance to reassure the organizers he was on his way.
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