Highlights from the French Open #1

The 2012 French Open has already been filled with upsets, lucky losers, 2 ½ hour 5th setters and some Americans to cheer for that are not named Williams or Roddick!! Adding to the hype are two players striving for career Grand Slams!

Can Novak Djokovic win the French Open and hold all 4 grand slam titles at one time? Can Maria Sharapova win on clay and achieve a career grand slam? The path is starting to clear after the first week of play.

It was surreal to hear that Serena and Venus Williams as well as Andy Roddick lost in the first round. I didn’t even have a chance to watch them play. Is there any hope for American tennis?

Well at least John Isner is consistent grinding out ANOTHER five set match with a marathon 5th set. He lost this one to French favorite, Paul-Henri Matheiu, who ran out of steam two days later in the 5th set against heavy grunter Marcel Granollers.

Several other great stories include lucky loser, David Goffin and veteran Tommy Hass. Goffin was packed to go home when he got the call that Gael Monfils pulled out of the main draw. Goffin now finds himself playing his idol, Roger Federer, in the 4th round after taking out Stepenek, Clement and Kubot.

Tommy Haas at age 34 arrived in Paris without a hotel room to play in the qualifiers and earn a spot in the main draw. Number 2 in the world 10 years ago, Haas made it to the 3rd round before losing to Richard Gasquet.

Andy Murray, the steady number 4 in the world, had a rough start complaining of back spasms during his Thursday match against Jarkko Nieminen. While he limped about between points and called the trainer, he was able to eventually beat his opponent in what has been referred to as a Lazarus-like rise from his sick bed. Nieminen became frustrated by Murray’s behavior. After the match, Virginia Wade called Murray a Drama Queen – might he be looking to take this title away from Jelena Jankovic?

The rest of the top men – Djokovic, Nadal and Fedderer are cruising in the early rounds – who do you think will make it to the finals?

One the women’s side, I was pleasantly surprised to have several American players to cheer for in the 3rd and 4th rounds – Sloane Stephens, Christine McHale and Varvara Lepchenko. Yes, Lepchenko is an American – she became an American citizen in September after 11 years of living in the United States.

Lepchenko took out Jelena Jankovic and Francesca Schiavone and finds herself in the 4th round. McHale gave Li Na a fight in the 3rd round winning the first set but Li Na found her game and won in 3 sets. Sloan Stephens will take on the veteran Sam Stosur in the 4th round. There is a lot of hope for the future of these young players.

Caroline Wozniacki lost in the 3rd round to Kaia Kinepi. However, Kinepi did it the hard way. She was up 5-1 in the 2nd set and let Wozniacki back into the match. Kinepi went from attacking every point to hoping Wozniacki would miss. Hmm! Has she seen Wozniacki play? Wozniacki is the human backboard!!! Wozniacki ended up taking the 2nd set in a tie break. It was frustrating to watch this match to the extent that the announcer joked when Kinepi was up 5-1 in the 3rd set that he would give her a 20% chance of winning. She finally did win – 6-3 in the 3rd!

The women’s side is wide open! Top contenders are Li Na (defending champion), Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azeranka (number 1 in the world), Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova. However, as I write this post, Kuznetsova lost the first set 6-0 to Sara Errani in her 4th round match.

My pick is Maria Sharapova. She is serving great and moving well. As always, she is focused and intense. What do you think?

Written by Stacey Anderson, Programming Director at the Nassau Tennis Club

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