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Archive for the ‘french open’ Category

RG Day Fifteen: The Next (Ar)Gen(tine)

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

I can’t let Roland Garros 2010 go by without a word to the success of Agustin Velotti of Argentina, who beat Andrea Collarini for the boys’ singles title, 64 75.

The Davis Cup dream lives, damnit!

Oh, and a word too for runner-up Andrea Collarini, of Argentinean extraction, who now plays for the US. So I think I can be forgiven for feeling something of a proprietary interest as a long-standing Argy fan …

*Purely* tennistically, of course. I’m not a paedophile.

UPDATED: Now with 100% more bromance, courtesy of @piratesswoop:

… Still not a paedophile. Almost definitely.

Posted in agustin velotti, andrea collarini, french open | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

RG Day Fifteen: Now With Words

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

Not good words, though. So first allow me to distract you with the coolest photo I may have ever seen.


OK, so. I’ve been putting off blogging about this, not because I’m not happy about it, but because I’m not really sure what I can say about it, apart from ‘wow’. (Although I recommend everyone reads C Note’s fantastic post on Rafa’s mentality, if you haven’t already.) In the nicest possible way, the final felt like going back in time, in that I didn’t really learn anything from it that I didn’t already know. To wit …

… Rafa is awesome. He is. He was. Ruthless in defense, relentless in his pursuit of every single ball and every single point, and able to bring again that twist of wonder (slightly sick wonder, if you’re rooting for the other guy) at doing things not just that no-one else can do, but that it seems no-one should be able to do. If you want that slightly more technically, you’re on the wrong blog I was particularly impressed with the consistent depth he got on his shots and how well he served, two elements that were missing last time he played Soderling at Roland Garros. And if you want it in numbers … well, it’s his fifth Roland Garros title; he got the Clay Slam (it’s a thing); he won twenty-two straight matches; and he dropped just two sets doing it (neither in Paris). I mean, what can you say about that? Apart from ‘please can you donate some of your sperm to British tennis’? I know some ladies who will volunteer to, er, take care of the logistics.

Love the look on the ballgirl’s face.

… Rafa likes winning. I amused myself throughout the third set by wondering whether he’d cry. He did. And if you saw his celebrations, it was impossible not to get some sense of just how much it meant to him. It can be a little mystifying, but it’s never less than moving. And it’s not about the numbers or the ranking; it’s just about being there, playing his tennis, and winning. It’s as pure and impenetrable as that.

Q. When you won, did you feel that this was a triumph of all the hardships that you’ve experienced over this past year?
RAFAEL NADAL: The feeling is when you win you know how many hours you had on court, how many hours you was thinking and working to play your best tennis, how much time you wait to win another time a title.
For me was 11 months without win a title, so a lot of tournaments going back to home without a victory. A lot of moments, difficult moments, because in a few of these tournaments I had to retired for the problems.
So is difficult moments to accept I say before, and this, sure, it’s very important for me. It was personal goal to be back at my best. So I did.
And for me, sure, the important thing is Roland Garros. But for me the biggest thing is the personal satisfaction to be here, to be here another time and to be at the top level.

And he really means it.

… Winning Slams is really, really hard. And no, this didn’t just dawn on me, but it did grow out of the similarities I saw on Sunday to Murray’s performance against Federer in Melbourne, and Stosur’s performance against Schiavone on Saturday. In all three cases, the losing player had been to some extent the player of the tournament, providing the upsets, the drama, the out-of-this-world performances. Robin’s tennis against Marin and against Federer reached a level for me, like Sam against Justine and JJ, that their opponent had not matched throughout. And yet it gets to the final, and that tennis simply isn’t there.

For the record, I don’t think Robin played a bad match at all. He wasn’t superlative, but honestly I think that was Rafa as much as anything else. Rafa played so well and gave Robin so few opportunities that when Robin did work himself into a position that he had the point on his racquet, he overpressed and missed. And while Robin is perfectly capable of overcoming that – we’ve seen him do it – on the day, in the moment, for the final, he just didn’t have it.

And then this happens.

The situation is of course exacerbated when you have two players at the top of the rankings who are so consistently and phenomenally capable of bringing it on the big occasion, which really underlines how incredibly bloody difficult it is to beat Federer and Nadal in the same Slam (raise your hand, Delpo – the left one, please. And carefully.) Honestly, what kind of absurd heights is someone going to have to reach in order to beat Nadal in a final at Roland Garros? Are we ever going to see it? Answers on a postcard.

… Robin is adorable. In case this message hasn’t filtered through. He is as nice, as sweet and as gracious as you could ask for. So there.

But like I say … I already knew all of the above. I really did. There may have been some ridiculous premature burial of Rafa by elements of the media and the fandom over the past twelve months, but I believed that it would be revealed to be totally myopic once Rafa got his feet (and functioning knees) back on clay, and so it has proved. I know that often being a fan leads more readily to despair, whether because you care more or because it’s an effective method of insulating yourself. But did anyone really believe that we wouldn’t see this again?

I’m really asking. Now that the dust has somewhat settled, what did you make of the final? Deja vu all over again, or did you find this triumphant reprise of familiar themes satisfying? To quote Daniel Bedingfield … I wanna know.

Posted in french open, rafael nadal, robin soderling, titlists | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

RG Day Fifteen: In Case You Didn’t Know

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

Rafael Nadal d. Robin Soderling, 64 62 64

Now you do.

Posted in french open, rafael nadal | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

RG Day 14: Now With My Words

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

Sorry, I couldn’t resist turning things over to the eloquent Ms. Schiavone in my previous post. Who could? She fistpumped the end of her own national anthem. Fried gold.

Anyway. Tough day for Sam Stosur. She played such a great tournament, absolutely demolished JJ in the semis, looked to be rolling … and then came up short.

I feel for her. In fact, I started off the final rooting for her. And I don’t think she played her absolute best, with her big weapon just MIA one too many times, even when she had the chance to really unleash on it as she did with such success throughout the tournament. But I don’t know how much difference it really would have made, because at the end of the day, she came up against an opponent playing the match of her life.

What a performance by Francesca Schiavone. Hard to believe that she’s only five foot five – or that she’s almost 30 – because she played like a giant and with absolute fearlessness. It wasn’t quite Stosur’s day and it was 100% Schiavone’s. How does that happen?

My enduring memories of this match: the one-handed backhand returns Schiavone hit off Stosur’s phenomenal kick serve, and her reaction in the tiebreak, two points from the end of the match, when she celebrated like someone who wasn’t going to be denied. Oh, and of course her actual celebration when Sam framed on match point.

I honestly think Schiavone said it better than I could have, but really … pure heart. Pure passion. Pure will. And a women’s final that was purely fantastic sport.

Thank you, ladies.

Grazie mille, Francesca.

Posted in francesca schiavone, french open, samantha stosur, titlists | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

RG Day Fourteen: Roman a Clay

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

Francesca Schiavone d. Samantha Stosur, 64 76(2)

Q. Had you ever dreamed of winning Roland Garros? Did you believe that you could do it?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: I always dream, yes. I always believe in myself. Not about the trophy or tournament, but just on myself I think was the key for everything. I’m so happy. I’m really so happy.

Q. What does it mean that this little girl who started playing is now the champion of this incredible tennis tournament?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: This is mean that everybody have the chance to be who really you want to be, and to do everything in your life. This is what’s happen to me.

Q. Newspapers across the world, television stations, there are going to be big headlines taller than you are saying, Upset; unbelievable; couldn’t happen. What do you call what you did today?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Um, to go over. Oltre? (Through translation.) Over the limits. Si, over the limits. […] Over the limits, and be really everything that you can be in one hour, 20 minutes, two hours.

Q. I guess you are national hero now in Italy. How does that feel? What do you expect? In Italy, are they going to celebrate you like for weeks? Are there gonna be 50,000 people in Rome? I don’t know. What do you expect?
No, I want to go home to mommy and daddy. This is my goal for the moment, because usually we do good dinner or good lunch, ten people, usually. Now I think I have to buy a new house, bigger, for 50 people.
No, I don’t know really because now I am here and I can’t feel what’s happen in Italy. But for sure, for me is an honor to be champion and to be a person that maybe someone can take like example.

Q. If you think back to the tiebreak, you came closer and closer with every point. So how was the feeling inside? Because you looked going crazy in a positive way. So how did it feel?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: I was feeling much more energy and more and more and more. I couldn’t stop it. I really felt that that one was my moment. I took it. I didn’t lose the chance.
I didn’t care about nothing. I want to take that point and play my tennis. It was the moment.

Q. I know you feel no matter where you play you are going to win the match, but was there something inside you when you came to Paris that told you you were going to do this?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: The true, in the true, maybe not. But inside, yes. I really always dreamed this tournament. It’s strange to say it, but when I call my daddy, he say to me, I remember you that you always dream this one. Every morning that you wake up, you work to do something like this.
So maybe it was far away in the reality, but here never far away.

Posted in francesca schiavone, french open | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Your 2010 Roland Garros Champions

Posted by gauloises1 on June 7, 2010

Working on dredging up some thoughts from my World Cup-wearied brain … any second now.

Posted in francesca schiavone, french open, rafael nadal | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

RG Day 11: This Is Why I Shouldn’t Say Things

Posted by gauloises1 on June 3, 2010

Oh, those whacky tennis gods. I knew my long rant yesterday about the existential satisfaction of seeing an underachiever come good was a bit ‘be careful what you wish for’.

Pretty sure I did not wish for this.

Novak. What’s happened to you? Where have you gone? And I don’t mean losing from 63 62 20 up, although that was a treat. Where has the confidence gone? The authority? How did your game become so ineffectual? And why can’t you ever seem to be in control of a match any more?

At least his time might be better served rummaging down the back of the sofa for his serve rather than enduring a beatdown at Rafa’s hands, which is probably the fate that would have awaited him and the last thing he needs.

Meanwhile, the laws of the universe require me to be pleased for Melzer.

It’s a work in progress.

Save it for the inevitable final, Rafa.

Posted in french open, jurgen melzer, novak djokovic, rafael nadal | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

RG Day 11: A Change Is Gonna Come

Posted by gauloises1 on June 3, 2010

So we have Schiavone and Dementieva on the one side, and on the other …

No matter what happens, we are going to have a maiden Slam champion at the end of Roland Garros 2010. And I am excited. Really quite excited. Anybody else? Or am I the only empty-headed seeker after perpetual change?

Sam was stunning today, even and especially after choking the match away when she served for it at 5-4 in the second set. And JJ … well, she won. This is what matters.

Sorry, Serena and Yaroslava fans, but they just can’t compete with my internal hallelujah chorus on this one.

Posted in french open, jelena jankovic, samantha stosur | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

RG Day 10: Paris o Morte!

Posted by gauloises1 on June 2, 2010

Today was indeed a heartwarming day, wasn’t it? In addition to Soderling and Berdych on the men’s side, on the women’s side we had Elena Dementieva once again flying under the radar to outlast younger and more hyped players to reach her gazillionth Slam semi-final after defeating Nadia Petrova.

I have to admit that probably the worst WTA match I’ve ever watched was between these two ladies, and from the look of things, I’m not sorry I missed this one.

Commiserations to Nadia, who was obviously physically hampered (she pulled out of her doubles match last night) and pulled off two great wins in this tournament, beating Aravane Rezai and Venus Williams to make Roland Garros 2010 at least 50% more boring fashionwise. But equally huge congratulations to Elena, who didn’t come to Paris in the greatest form or physical shape and has looked to be on her way out at least once, only to regroup and find herself with an excellent chance of making the finals.

Elena will face Francesca Schiavone, who asked not what her country could do for her when she beat Caroline Wozniacki 62 63 to become the first Italian woman to make the semi-finals of a Slam. That is huge, and it was a huge performance from her; crafty, aggressive, throwing the full range of her talents at Wozniacki and making her look decidedly one-dimensional.

And Schiavone is almost 30. And she gave an awesome press conference:

Q. Your moment of triumph of was so special. Your face was filled with joy. I know it’s difficult, but can you try and talk about emotion, the role of emotion and your play, your feeling at that moment?

Q. Hard to put in words, is what I meant to say.
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Maybe I can tell you in Italian; is more easy.

Q. In Italian is fine.
I think in that moment you remember many things from when you are when you were young. Is special because is your space, is your time, is your opportunity.
I felt alone, but with all the love around me is bo. (I don’t know.) It’s like if I ask you, How did you feel when you married? You say, It’s not easy to explain.
Is not enough?

Q. More than enough.

More than enough indeed.

Posted in caroline wozniacki, elena dementieva, francesca schiavone, french open, nadia petrova | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

RG Day 10: L’Oiseau Est La Mot

Posted by gauloises1 on June 2, 2010

Continuing today’s theme of somewhat-underachievers coming good … how about Tomas Berdych in his first Slam semi-final?

He defeated Mikhail Youzhny 63 61 62. That’s backing up his straight sets defeat of Andy Murray and was his fifth victory without dropping a set in succession. That’s no lapses in concentration, no chokes, no wavering of the will. In five matches. From Tomas Berdych. Am I making my point?

Tough day for Mikhail Youzhny, obviously. Come to Queens, sad panda. Let me comfort you. All will be well.

But seriously … Berdych! In the semis! It’s such a great result and I’m so pleased, not just because I like Berdych (I don’t know when that happened, but it did) but because of one of my favourite tennis fans/commenters/human beings, Bismarck, who never fails to make my life better with his uniquely despairing and unswervingly faithful devotion to the Berdman. Congrats, Bis. Have a small picspam.

Fly, my pretty! Fly!

Posted in french open, mikhail youzhny, tomas berdych | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »