Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sharapova and Bouchard advance to French Open semifinals

During the first set of the French Open quarterfinal match between Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova, it seemed as if Serena Williams--by virtue of the blessing she bestowed on the Spaniard at the net last week--was more or less beating Sharapova all the way from the beach in Miami. A blessing is a powerful thing, to be sure, but so is the will of Maria Sharapova.

Beaten down 6-1 in the first set, in exactly the same fashion as Williams was, Sharapova then found herself serving at 4-5 in the second. Wait! Hadn't we just seen this, or something very much like it? So, Sharapova held--emphatically. And then she broke Mugaruza, and then she won the set.

There's a lesson in this, and one that, as fans, we know well. On these occasions, you're advised to beat Sharapova in straight sets, or the outcome won't be one that you'll like. It will be kind of like closing a screen door to keep out a tornado.

Sure enough, in the third game of the final set, Muguruza seriously blinked. It was a long blink, lasting twelve minutes.The Spaniard failed to convert five game points, and that was that. Sharapova won the set 6-2. I didn't find the match very interesting--I never find these types of matches very interesting. I was much more entertained by what was going on on Suzanne Lenglen, where Muguruza's countrywoman, Carla Suarez Navarro, was engaged in a battle against Eugenie Bouchard. However, curiosity kept me returning to the Sharapova match. It apparently never occurred to those in charge of scheduling to not put both quarterfinals on at the same time.

Suarez Navarro led 5-2 in the first set, which Bouchard won 7-2 in a tiebreak. The Spaniard won the second set 6-2, then went up 4-1 in the third. 4-1 can be such a deceptive lead, and especially for a player like Suarez Navarro, whose nerves are her greatest enemy. Bouchard won ten consecutive points, then suddenly, it was 4-all. The Canadian rising star won the final set 7-5 on her third match point. She was simply too mentally stable to go away.

Bouchard reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, and now here she is again, on clay at the French. Are there any doubters remaining? In Melbourne, Bouchard's run was halted by eventual champion Li Na. Now she will have to face Sharapova, which is no small feat. And even if she should lose that match, Bouchard will have made a big announcement about herself to the tour.

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci did some beating down of their own. The 2nd-seeded Italians defeated Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals. And top seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai defeated Cara Black and Sania Mirza to also go to the semifinals.

In mixed doubles, Kiki Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor were defeated in the quarterfinals by Yaroslava Shvedova and Bruno Soares.


Todd.Spiker said...

Seriously stupid scheduling. Not as stupid as it could be, though, since they're topped themselves by doing the same thing tomorrow. You would think it wouldn't be possible the screw up the scheduling of just four major matches in a single day, and yet...

Diane said...

Screwed up the scheduling, screwed up the app (finally fixed). They're trying to be worse than Wimbledon!