Thursday, June 6, 2013

Williams and Sharapova to contest French Open final

Was I the only one who had trouble watching Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka play their Roland Garros semifinal today? Really, I had to fight to keep from getting distracted. It's true, of course, that I never especially enjoy their matches--that just isn't the kind of tennis that gives me a lot of pleasure--but today's match featured so few stretches of momentum, I found it particularly dull.

I thought Azarenka would be more up to the task of playing in her first French Open semifinal, especially since Sharapova's serve was all over the place. The defending champion double-faulted four times in one game, and eleven times total. She also hit twelve aces, including one on match point.

There was a half-hour rain delay toward the end of the second set, which Azarenka won. Sharapova had to serve for the match twice, and needed five match points to win it, 6-1, 2-6 6-4. She hit a total of 42 winners, and made 39 unforced errors. I should add that, the second time she served for the match, the Russian held at love.

The other semifinal was more of a "how to do everything in tennis" clinic put on by top seed Serena Williams. In just 46 minutes, Williams defeated 2012 runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1. Williams hit 40 winners (to Errani's two), and had first and second serve win percentages of 82 and 88, as well as an 80% success rate a the net. It was an amazing display of serving, returning, and everything else you can name.

No one can know what's really in another person's mind (sometimes I'm not sure what's in my own), but one has to believe that the world number 1 is--shall we say, "motivated"--to play Sharapova in the final. Sharapova hasn't beaten her since 2004,  and this is "Serena on a mission" if ever there were one.

Here are the players' paths to the final:

round 1--def. Hsieh Su-Wei
round 2--def. Eugenie Bouchard
round 3--def. Zheng Jie
round of 16--def. Sloane Stephens (17)
quarterfinals--def. Jelena Jankovic (18)
semifinals--def. Victoria Azarenka (3)

round 1--def. Anna Tatishvili
round 2--def. Caroline Garcia
round 3--def. Sorana Cirstea
round of 16--def. Roberta Vinci (15)
quarterfinals--def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
semifinals--def. Sara Errani (5)

In women's wheelchair singles, top seed Aniek Van Koot won her quarterfinal match 4-6. 6-4, 6-4 by Lucy Shuker. 2nd seed Jiske Griffioen also advanced to the semifinals.

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