Sunday, June 7, 2015

My French Open top 10

Moulin Rouge
My top 10 French Open occurrences, in ascending order:

10. One is nice, two is tres doux: Jiske Griffioen won her first singles major at the Australian Open, and now, at the French, she has won her second. The Dutch wheelchair star also won the doubles championship, with partner Aniek Van Koot.

9. Who was the consultant, Wimbledon?: The French Open website, iPhone and iPad apps were dismal beyond description. They were hard to navigate, they froze easily, and it was often difficult to refresh the information.

8. Halfway there!: Serena Williams won the Australian and the French, so she's halfway to a Grand Slam. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won the Australian (the first time they played together) and the French, so they're halfway there, too. And wheelchair champion Jiske Griffioen, who won her first singles major in Australia, is also halfway there!

7. Czeched out: One of Lucie Safarova's many high-end victims was defending champion Maria Sharapova, whom Safarova defeated 7-6, 6-4. Sharapova wasn't at peak physical health, but, nonetheless, Lucie made it look so easy.

6. The Queen of Mexico dazzles Paris: Timea Bacsinszky's career took a bit of a dip after she pulled off her double-title runs in Mexico, but she rose to the occasion in Paris, and how. The "new" Swiss Miss took out the likes of Madison Keys, Petra Kvitova and the also-impressive Alison Van Uytvanck. By the time she got to Serena Williams in the semifinals, however, Bacsinszky did something she rarely does--she choked.

5. Roasted pepper: Many fans and members of the sports media thought that Simona Halep would win the French Open. I thought her chances were quite good, despite a recent display of the old nerves. But the 2014 runner-up, sometimes known as Halepeno, was booted out in the second round by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who played a next-to-perfect match against the third seed.

4. Giving "doubles" a new meaning: Bethanie Mattek-Sands wasn't content to win just the mixed doubles title with Mike Bryan. She and Lucie Safarova also won the women's doubles title. This is such a wonderful accomplishment for a very talented player who hasn't had the best of breaks in her career.

3 Encore! Encore!: 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova played a completely awesome, never to be forgotten, match in the 2011 Australian Open round of 16. I don't believe in "bests," but if I were forced to pick a best match of all that I've seen (and I've seen a lot), I'd probably pick that one. It went on for four hours and 44 minutes in the sweltering Australian heat, and neither player ever had a letdown. It was simply a festival of thrills and artistry, all performed under the most difficult conditions. Schiavone won, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.

Those two. They did it again at the French Open, in the second round. This time, they played for "only" three hours and 49 minutes, with Schiavone winning again, 6-7, 7-5, 10-8. The first set tiebreak score was 13-11.The Fighting Italian would go on to lose to Andreea Mitu in the next round, and it was sad to see her go. But the level of tennis that she and Kuznetsova played (they really bring out the best in each other) is awe-inspiring. Schiavone is surely near the end of her career, but how wonderful to know that, with a little help from a very gifted opponent, she can still steal the show from everyone.

2. We love Lucie: What a run! During the last couple of seasons, Lucie Safarova has done two important things. She's calmed her nerves, and she's become more aggressive. During these last two weeks, we all got to see just how far the talented Czech player has come. She had to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kurumi Nara, Sabine Lisicki, defending champion Maria Sharapova, Garbine Muguruza, and former champion Ana Ivanovic to get to the final.

But, as is often the case, the player who does the really heavy lifting isn't quite up to the task of finishing off an opponent in the final. Safarova gets a break here because "an opponent" was Serena Williams. The 13th seed actually didn't come alive until halfway through the second set, but when she finally found her game, she was able to take Williams to a third set. Williams would have none of it, though, and lifted her game even higher to defeat Safarova. Still, it was a remarkable run, and a very old-school kind of run in that Safarova also competed for two weeks in doubles. She and partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands won that title. What an impressive two weeks!

1. 20 and counting: She struggled throughout the tournament, constantly getting dragged to three sets, and suffering with a very nasty case of flu. She had to fight off old foes Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens. But--no surprise at all--Serena Williams prevailed. The world number 1, who appeared to be on her last leg after winning her semifinal match, did what she came to do in Paris: She won the whole thing, giving her her third French Open title.

This means that Williams has now won 20 singles majors. For what it's worth, she's also won 13 doubles majors and two mixed doubles majors. The 33-year-old Williams is halfway to winning the Grand Slam, one of the few things she's never done, but something that is not at all out of the question.


Todd.Spiker said...

"We Love Lucy!"

Arrrrgh!! I can't believe I never came up with some variation of that the last two weeks! :D

(Always look forward to your post-slam Top 10's.) :)

Diane said...


Roi said...

Great post Diane, I'm specially moved by Bethanie's run in both her doubles roads, I really really really like her.

Now, I must confess, back in Acapulco and Monterrey she made me so mad cause she got to play BOTH TIMES against mexican #1 player, Marcela Zacarías. In Acapulco she had a very easy win in main draw but in Monterrey Marcela won a tight first set only to choke easily (isn't that what mexican players do best?) in qualies. Please Beth, don't do that again </3

shalini said...

Great recap Diane! I am so pleased that Lucy and Bethany won the doubles. Serena's title was intense! This is a time I felt she won not win by dominating physically but mentally instead.

Diane said...

Thanks so much, Roi and shalini. And Roi, as far as choking is concerned, at least the Mexican players have a lot of company!