Thursday, May 31, 2012

Defending champion moves to third round of French Open

French Open defending champion Li Na advanced to the third round at Roland Garros today, easily defeating Stephanie Foretz Gacon 6-0, 6-2. Next for Li is Christina McHale, who was victorious today over countrywoman Lauren Davis. Li is in the same quarter as 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, whom she beat in the round of 16 during last year's French Open. Li, of course, beat Schiavone in the final to claim the title in 2011.

Arantxa Rus ended Virginie Razzano's brief, but unforgettable run, today. Klara Zakopalova defeated 16th seed Maria Kirilenko, and Caroline Wozniacki, Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber all advanced. Saying goodbye was 19th seed Jelena Jankovic, who fell in three sets to a jubilant Varvaro Lepchenko. Lepchenko's second round victory keeps alive her hope of being part of the USA's Olympic team during the summer Games. As for Jankovic--it's more of a story now when she wins, and that is tennis's loss.

Maria Sharapova didn't get to play her second round match against Ayumi Morita because John Isner was at it again, playing a marathon match against a Frenchman--this time, veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu. Isner and eventual winner Mathieu played for 5 hours and 41 minutes, while Sharapova and Morita prepared for a match that wasn't to be played. They will play on Friday, and the winner will play Peng Shuai in the third round.

A third round match (one I won't see) that has the potential to be very good is the one scheduled between Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Dominika Cibulkova. Martinez Sanchez has faded since her memorable Rome win in 2010, but has shown her tricky form again in Paris. Cibulkova was a French Open semifinalist in 2009, and is a grinder par excellence.

Also, Nadia Petrova and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur will go at it again, and--unless one of them has a nervous collapse (that can't be counted out), things could get interesting. Angelique Kerber faces Flavia Pennetta, and another good clay grinder, Sara Errani, goes against 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic. Top seed Victoria Azarenka is also scheduled to play tomorrow, and her opponent will be Aleksandra Wozniak.

3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who may or may not be conjuring everything from the weather to the increasing strangeness of the draw, will play 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, a clay competitor of great talent who has streaky results. Should The Radwanska prevail, either Errani or Ivanovic will await her in the round of 16. The 3rd seed has reached the round of 16 at the French Open three times, but has never gone beyond that. She has also never before been seeded 3rd or generally kicked everyone on the tour (except for Victoria Azarenka and Petra Cetkovska, who was kindly removed from competition by Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson in the second round), around as though they were pieces of clay knocked from her shoes.

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the hottest doubles team of the clay season, won their second round match today. The Italians, who are seeded 4th, have now won 27 straight red clay matches. Defending champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka also won today, as did 2nd seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Losing, however, was the ad hoc team of Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska, defeated by Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. Considering that both Kerber and Radwanska probably have high expectations about their singles draw, the doubles defeat might not be the worst outcome for either of them.

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