Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Four days in, and there's already enough drama for a novelle

The French Open is known for its conditions, in which the balls are heavy, and sliding is a big advantage. Now, change the balls and hold the tournament in the fall, in a damp, cool climate, then add the fact that the U.S. Open ended only two weeks ago. And now you have Roland Garros 2020.

We have already lost Serena Williams, who withdrew today because of a lingering Achilles issue. She was scheduled to play the resurgent Tsvitana Pironkova, a fact which--on its own--contained potential drama. Now the Bulgarian Woman of Mystery, who made a huge statement at the U.S. Open--after a three-year absence from the tour--will face off against Barbora Krejcikova.

If Pironkova had the resurgence factor in New York, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova has it in Paris. The Slovakian player, a clay court specialist, took out Venus Williams in the first round (she took her out of the French Open in 2014, too, and has a 3-0 head-to-head against her). Today, in the second round, she upset U.S. Open runner-up Vika Azarenka in straight sets. 

Drama. But not enough to compare with what happened to Kiki Bertens today. Last year, Bertens was my number 1 pick to win the French Open, but she had to withdraw during the tournament because of illness. This year, she isn't a top contender, but--she's still Kiki Bertens, and is competitive. Today, in the second round, she played Sara Errani, the last of the Four Fighting Italians, and there was enough drama to last for the duration of the event, which included 24 breaks of serve.

Bertens was either cramping or having an issue with her thigh--I'm not sure which. She received medical treatment, and was in obvious, intense pain. But she kept going for three hours and eleven minutes. Errani served for the match three, and was broken three times. She also held a match point. Bertens won, 7-6, 3-6, 9-7, then collapsed onto the court in tears. She was hauled away in a wheelchair, and treated to a mockery performance from Errani, who apparently couldn't believe that anyone in that much pain could defeat her. The entire "Fighting Italian" construct was turned on its head by a Dutchwoman, who emerged as the warrior supreme. 

In the meantime, 24th seed and rising star Dayana Yastremska is out, 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova is out, 9th seed Jo Konta is out, and 17th seed Anett Kontaveit is out. Also out are 27th seed Karolina Muchova, 26th seed Donna Vekic, 18th seed Angie Kerber, 12th seed Madison Keys, 21st seed Jennifer Brady, and 19th seed Alison Riske. And they went out in the first round.

The second round saw the demise of  Hsieh Su-Wei, Coco Gauff, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Yulia Putintseva, and  32nd seed Barbora Strycova.

In the meantime, top seed Simona Halep won her second round match against countrywoman Irina-Camelia Begu, and 3rd seed Elina Svitolina defeated Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.


jwr said...

I didn't get to see Ostapenko's win over Pliskova today...but I saw her second round match and thought "This could turn into something." I hope so. There's nobody more entertaining when she's on.

Nondisposable Johnny

Diane said...

I didn't get to see it, either, but I wasn't surprised by the outcome. Fingers crossed she stays in.