Friday, June 3, 2016

Serena and Garbine, as you always wanted to see them

After two weeks of rain, mud, angry reactions, crazy schedules, and a power failure, it's come to this: World number 1, top seed and defending champion Serena Williams will face former Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza in the 2016 French Open singles final.

That looks straightforward enough--the champion and the anointed upstart. But of course, there's a bit of backstory that provides some context for the upcoming final. The only other time the pair met in a major final, Williams defeated Muguruza to win the Wimbledon title last year. However, in 2014, the Spaniard took Williams out of the French Open in straight sets in the second round.

Muguruza, for all her sudden fame, has won only two WTA tournaments. Still, she has the look of an emerging Big Deal. She can be very moody on the court, which often means nothing at all, but in her case, appears to be a real detriment because when she gets that way, she loses the plot of the match. In Paris these past two weeks, however, Muguruza has looked wonderful. Quick and instinctive, she has handled all of her matches like the player most of us think she is on the way to becoming.

Williams, who got past an injured, yet spirited, Kiki Bertens in today's semifinals, is having some thigh problems herself. Of course, an injured (and sometimes heavily bandaged) and sick Serena Williams has won many a title, so there's no reason to think that a thigh injury will hold her back. She simply knows how to handle these matters. Like no one else, I should add.

There could have been an all-Russian women's doubles final, but the very last standing Kiki--Mladenovic, that is--and her partner, Caroline Garcia, didn't let that happen. The French pair, seeded 5th, defeated Margarita Gasparyan (who displayed a sweet volleying skill) and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals. Garcia and Mladenovic will compete against 7th seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina for the title.

Today, the Russians defeated the Czech team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the semifinals. (I'll admit--as much as I really, really like Makarova/Vesnina, there was a little part of me that wanted Krejcikova and Siniakova to win the title so we could see one fabulous dance routine after match point.)

Meanwhile, Martina Hingis completed what is almost--but sadly, not quite--a  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Career Slam. She has now won titles in doubles in all four majors, titles in mixed doubles in all four majors, and three of four titles in singles in the majors. So perhaps we'll just say that she continues to have a brilliant career. In a twist that complemented all of the Kiki interconnectedness, Santina faced off in the mixed doubles final, and Hingis and Leander Paes defeated Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.

In somewhat of a surprise final, 2013 French Open champion Sabine Ellerbrock will play Marjolein Buis for the wheelchair singles title. Both are unseeded at the French Open. In doubles, it will be the number 1 seeds, Jiske Griffioen and Aniek Van Koot, against the number 2 seeds, Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley.

Here are the singles finalists paths to the final:

round 1--def. Magdalena Rybarikova
round 2--def. Teliana Pereira
round 3--def. Kristina Mladenovic (26)
round of 16--def. Elina Svitolina (18)
quarterfinals--def. Yulia Putintseva
semifinals--def. Kiki Bertens

round 1--Varvara Lepchenko
round 2--Myrtille Georges (WC)
round 3--def. Yanina Wickmayer
round of 16--def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (13)
quarterfinals--def. Shelby Rogers
semifinals--def. Samantha Stosur (21)

And while she didn't make it to the final, it was the unseeded Bertens who did the heavy lifting at this event--what a draw!:

round 1--def. Angelique Kerber (3)
round 2--def. Camila Giorgi
round 3--def. Daria Kasatkina (29)
round of 16--def. Madison Keys (15)
quarterfinals--def. Timea Bacsinszky (8)

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