Thursday, May 29, 2014

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Two French players will be left standing after the second round. Name them.

"Cornet and Garcia, of course."

Isn't that what we all would have answered? But the talented Alize Cornet, whose career has recently (and fortunately) been resurrected, is gone, as is rising star Garcia. Cornet, of course, lost that second round thriller to Taylor Townsend. Garcia admittedly crumbled under the pressure of the occasion, and made it pretty easy for Ana Ivanovic to beat her in the first round.

So instead, we have the unlikely pair of Pauline Parmentier and Kristina Mladenovic. And while a lot of fuss is being made of Mladenovic because she took out Li Na in the first round, Parmentier's wins have been rather impressive, too. In the opening round, she beat 9th seed Roberta Vinci. And while Vinci hasn't had the best of seasons, it was still quite an upset.

Today, Parmentier defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, who has twice reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Next for Parmentier is the unpredictable Mona Barthel, whose career really took off for a while, and then sputtered and became nothing to talk about. She's doing pretty well in Paris, though. She beat Karin Knapp in the first round and then won her second round match when Sabine Lisicki retired (shouldn't we just have a code number for that now, so we don't have to keep typing it?).

Parmentier, by the way, is ranked number 145 in the world.

Mladenovic is a bit of a different story. The very talented doubles player is a different person when it comes to singles. As a rule, she just doesn't have the same confidence, and then there's the issue of her serve, which isn't bad--it's just all over the place. Mladenovic can pile up both double faults and aces with abandon, and, if someone would come along and help her fix that inconsistency, we might see a different player on the singles court.

I know this--even though I don't technically "know" it: At this tournament, Mladenovic is the "bloodline" recipient of the spirit of both Marion Bartoli and Amelie Mauresmo. The young Frenchwoman is very close to Bartoli, and Mauresmo, of course, is the French Fed Cup captain.

Bartoli wisely chose Mauresmo to shadow her during every moment of her 2013 Wimbledon run, and it was Mauresmo who broke Bartoli's learned rigidity and got her to relax and enjoy. When Bartoli was ready to do her endless drills, Mauresmo made her dance instead. This was a revelation to Bartoli, who never lacked mental strength, but who really did need to chill out a bit during tournaments. (It was also Mauresmo who urged a "hopeless" substitute French Fed Cup team on to a 3-2 victory against the USA this year.)

By the way, where is Mademoiselle Bartoli? I've yet to see her in the stands.

Talk about work the crowd. Mladenovic hasn't been shy at all about getting the French fans to go full strength for her in the stands. And she's also been pretty showy, during her singles matches, with her considerable volleying skills. Next, she gets Charleston champion Andrea Petkovic, who is re-building her career after a long struggle with multiple injuries. Petkovic went three sets today against Stefanie Voegele.

This time last year, there were three Frenchwomen left in the draw--Bartoli, Cornet and Virginie Razzano.


Karen Williams said...

I understand that Bartoli has been doing commentary during the French Open. Word is that her analysis is very technique oriented and it is a welcome breath of fresh air for those listeners in Europe. Yeah, Europe gets technical analysis and we get personality pieces. Oi vey

Diane said...

Oh, that's right. I actually knew that--even read about it some more this morning--but there you are, Karen. Mind fog. Brain dust.

She's doing that stupid gig with John Inverdale, which I will never understand. (I probably wanted to forget it.)

Still, it seems that we might have seen a glimpse of her by now.