Sunday, June 6, 2010

My French Open top 10

Here are my top 10 French Open occurrences, in ascending order:

10. Pain in the neck: Rome champion Martina Jose Martinez Sanchez went out in the first round because of a neck injury, and immediately took some of the excitement out of the tournament.

9. Pain all over: 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was defeated in the third round by countrywoman Maria Kirilenko.

8. Whoo!: One of the best things about having Francesca Schiavone go deep into a major is that we get to see her press conferences, which are hilarious. Like this gem, after her semifinal match:
Have you ever been so shocked in a tennis match?
Yeah, there are many things that the woman do that can shock you. Whoo!

7. Stormy weather: The weather for much of the tournament was dreadful, and matters were made worse by the fact that there are no lights on the court, and the officials forced competitors to play in the rain--and the dark.

6. Sister Slam in sight: Serena and Venus Williams won their 12th major as a doubles team, and they have now won four in a row. That put them in a good position to win the Grand Slam, as well as a 6-in-row Sister Slam.

5. This crown doesn't fit anymore: Justine Henin, the Queen of Clay, was removed from her throne when she lost in the round of 16 to Sam Stosur.

4. Rain, darkness, mud, blood, sweat...and probably tears: Nadia Petrova and Aravane Rezai played the Match That Wouldn't End in the third round. They played in the rain, they played in the dark. They each held three match points that went away. The match was finally suspended at 7-all in the third set. Then they played the next morning. Finally, after a total of 2 hours and 48 minutes, Petrova won, 6-7, 6-4, 10-8, thereby taking away France's last hope. This was probably the thriller of the tournament.

3. Bovine Star on Ice: Maria Sharapova was back, but she wasn't really back--not until she came to Paris to play in the worst possible conditions on her worst surface. Defying everyone's expectations (including possibly, her own), Sharapova played wonderfully on wet clay in the dark against Justine Henin, and took Henin to three tough sets.

2. Play it again, Sam: Sam Stosur was the standout player in this tournament, making her way through the draw from hell, only to be outplayed in the final. Stosur took out four-time French Open champion Justine Henin, world number 1 and top seed Serena Williams (who held a match point), and title contender Jelena Jankovic, one right after the other. It was an unforgettable run, and established Stosur as a fearless and formidable clay competitor. Despite the sad ending for Stosur, the 2010 French Open made her a star.

1. Mamma Mia!: Fighting Francesca Schiavone, Co-Queen of Fed Cup and vice president in charge of all things hilarious and deliciously Italian, went into her first major final with a plan, and she stuck to it. The stunningly athletic Schiavone, just a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of women's tennis. Playing the kind of clay court tennis Italians learn in childhood, Schiavone--the 17th seed--pushed Sam Stosur around for two dramatic sets with her topspin, expert footwork and beautiful volleys. The aggression paid off: Schiavone finished the afternoon with her arms around the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, her clothes covered in clay, and a stadium filled with fans whose hearts melted over the charm of their new champion. If ever the spirit of Lenglen herself filled the court, it was during Schiavone's inspired trophy ceremony and post-match celebration.

No comments: