Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roland Garros week 1--answers and questions

Gargoyles, Saint-Chapelle
During the first week of the 2013 French Open, some of our expectations--for better or worse--were met. Serena Williams cruised through the first four rounds, Petra Kvitova crashed out, Sara Errani put up a fight when she had to, and Caroline Wozniacki made an early exit.

Some questions were answered:

Can Li Na rise to meet the occasion? No.

Is Bethanie Mattek-Sands actually healthy? She appears to be.

Is JJ really on a comeback path? Looks like it.

Should you dye your hair blonde for the summer? Absolutely.

Other questions will be answered next week. Like, can anyone stop Serena? Are Serena and Maria going to contest the final? How far can Francesca Schiavone go? Is Victoria Azarenka going to surprise us?

The weather played a big role in the first week of play. Rain delays and cold, wet, slippery conditions went against some players. Host country France saw its last three hopes--Bartoli, Razzano and Cornet--go out in the third round (but not before Bartoli provided some first-rate theatre, especially in the opening round). Chinese speed-demon Zheng Jie gave Sharapova a bit of a contest. Four American women made it to the round of 16 (!), and the Williams sisters withdrew from doubles competition.

Those of us who live in the USA had to contend with a weekend controlled by NBC, the official Anti-Tennis Channel. I found my iPad next to useless (advanced Flash software is required, so the "app" workaround is there in name only) for watching Tennis Channel online, but fortunately, I was able to watch it on a non-mobile device.

The low point of the week, though, had to be hearing Justin Gimelstob--of all people--give everyone a stern lecture on character.

The French Open is my favorite major, so just about anything that happens is okay with me.

Of the twelve women remaining, Schiavone, at 32 years of age, is the oldest. Williams is 31, and Jankovic and Mattek-Sands are 28. Sloane Stephens, at 20, is the "young one." On both tours, the concept of "old" has changed. The most dramatic example in this tournament is Tommy Haas, who, at age 35, is into the round of 16.


Jim Lumpkin said...

Cornet had the better of it for nearly two sets. The surprise that she played with more power than Vika and more intelligence - truly great shot selection. Her serve has come a long way too.
She was derailed, but NOT by Azarenka. She sustained leg injuries and once her movement was hampered, Azarenka found the way home. Hmm... that is the same thing that happened to Vika in the Australian Open, where Jamie Hampton was pushing her around, but Hampton's back went out.
I'm not an Azarenka believer. She's had a lot of good fortune and she's morally compromised, as when she was allowed to take a break because of her nerves. She's a pure pragmatist, and that spells: sketchy person, corner cutter, cheat and other such things. She is a good player, but what does it matter, given her character?

svente said...

I think Azarenka is legit and I personally don't find her compromised but she has gotten lucky in some of these tournys. Cornet did have the better of her.

That said, no one wins multiple grand slams without a little luck.

JIm said...

I'm not quick to jump on someone's transgressions, but Azarenka's history speaks for itself. She used to quit matches that she was losing, which is bad sportsmanship and a bad example. Her leaving the court when she had a nervous attack in Australia is as bad, perhaps worse. It was not a physical injury. Nerves are part of the game and must be accepted and dealt with within the rules. Moreover, Vika's constant screeching is a form of intimidation. It's a hindrance because it is distracting. Granted, it's a game, but the stakes are high and nobody should be allowed to do this stuff. Azarenka IS a pragmatist, and as we all know, pragmatism leaves all options on the table at all times. This is amoral at best. I stand by my comments, and will not bring this up again. Sorry, but the world is in trouble because of pragmatism and somebody must call it out. Azarenka is a magnificent athlete, but has a long way to go as a person.

Doug said...

As to Azarenka. Note that there's a difference between personality and character. Don't confuse the two. She has a big personality.