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
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.