This comes from my personal blog at http://tennisnewsnow.wordpress.com/
This blog entry will include a full recap of Roland Garros and a quick review of the warm-up events that took place before The Championships at Wimbledon, which will be reviewed tomorrow or Saturday.
Roland Garros (French Open) in Paris, France (Red Clay)
Coming into Roland Garros, the men's tournament had one clear favorite while the women's tournament had many contenders, but no real favorite. Starting off with the women's event, I will touch on each of the top 5 seeds' draws and also mention other standout stars of the fortnight, concluding with a brief essay on the champion and finalist.
Coming into Roland Garros, you could have picked Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic, and maybe even Caroline Wozniacki as the favorites for the title. Others might say that Sam Stosur, who reached the semis last year and had the best clay record of the tour in 2010, could go all the way. But what would you have said about Italian Fed Cup hero Francesca Schiavone? Third round, maybe the fourth round, at the most she will go to the quarters. She surprised even the best of us.
Serena Williams played some mediocre tennis going into the second week, but by the time her fourth round match came around, she looked sharp and ready to make a title run in Paris. But in the quarterfinals, she faced the formidable Sam Stosur who had taken out Justine Henin in the previous round. After being behind for most of the match, Serena turned it around and built a lead in the final set, only to lose it 8-6 to the Aussie. On a lighter note, Serena was able to grab a title in Paris: the women's doubles crown with sister Venus.
Venus Williams suffered a similar defeat in the fourth round to streaky Russian Nadia Petrova, who used the slow conditions on a cold Sunday in Paris to finish off her American foe quite easily. Coming into the event, Venus had won a title on clay in Acapulco and reached the quarterfinals in Rome and the finals in Madrid, so she looked like she could have gone all the way to the finals. But, it wasn't meant to be as she took yet another early defeat at the French Open.
Caroline Wozniacki looked to be in fine form as she played her way into the quarterfinals where she faced the crafty Italian Francesca Schiavone. In this match, the Dane was pushed around the court by Schiavone's all-court topspin oriented game and it really wasn't a contest from the beginning.
Jelena Jankovic had been playing some of the tennis that saw her reach a U.S. Open final and the World No. 1 ranking on her way to the semifinals and it finally looked like she was going to win a major for the first time in her career. But she would have to wait for another major to come around because lost quite easily to Sam Stosur.
Finally, Elena Dementieva made it to the semis here for the second time in here career and after losing a tight first set to Schiavone in the semis, she walked up to her opponent and shook hands with her, signalling that the match was over due to injury on Elena's behalf. We later learned that she had torn a calf muscle in the second round and had been struggling ever since. We haven't seen her since, so it must have been very serious.
In the finals, it was Sam Stosur against Francesca Schiavone. They were both first time Grand Slam finalists, but the nerves certainly didn't show that. Both women brought their best tennis, with Schiavone simply outclassing the Australian in the championship match. But, unlike so many of the finals at Roland Garros in the recent years (Henin standing a combined 48 games-17 games in championship matches , Ivanovic easily beating Safina in the 2008 final, and Kuznetsova beating Safina 6-4, 6-2 in 2009) it was very nice to see two women play their best tennis and make it a competitive match, with Schiavone prevailing 6-4, 7-6.
In the men's tournament, there were few surprises until the quarterfinals, where all the action really began. Starting at the top of the draw, Roger Federer took on last year's finalist Robin Soderling. After taking the first set over the Swede, Federer went on to drop the next three sets to subsequently lose the match and his streak of 23 consecutive semifinals in a major. This was also the first time that Federer had lost to Soderling.
In another quarterfinal of note, the Austrian Jurgen Melzer was 2 sets to love down against Novak Djokovic before capitalizing on the Serb's poor play to book a spot in the semifinals for the first time in his career. This also sparked him to play much better tennis at the season's next major, Wimbledon, where he reached the singles fourth round and won the doubles.
Also to be noted, Rafael Nadal faced his hardest test against his fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who pushed him to two tiebreaker sets and made the 4-time champ look vulnerable at times. But, it was Nadal who prevailed over his hard-hitting compatriot.
In the semifinals, Nadal had a straight forward win over Melzer to put him in yet another final at Roland Garros. But, the other semifinal Tomas Berdych, a first time Slam semifinalist, and last year's finalist Soderling took shape to be a tight and intriguing 5-set battle. In the end, it was the experience of Soderling that got him through to the final over a visibly tight Berdych. Luckily, this wasn't the last we would see of Berdych (see tomorrow's blog for Wimbledon).
This set up a very interesting final between two men who don't have a lot of love between them. Nadal had every reason to be confident going into the match as he was a former champion at Roland Garros and his clay court credentials top every single man to ever play the sport, but there was still a tinge of nerves. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that in 2009, Soderling became the one and only man to be Nadal at the French Open and did it in convincing style, by pounding ball after ball and serve after serve. But in this case it was Soderling who seemed to have trouble rising to the occasion and couldn't make it a competitive match against Nadal. The good news for Nadal: a fifth Roland Garros title, a seventh Grand Slam title, and the No. 1 ranking. What a deal!
Now for a quick recap of the grass court events leading up to Wimbledon.
AEGON Classic in Birmingham, GBR (Grass)
Champion: Li Na def. Maria Sharapova 7-6, 6-1
AEGON INTERNATIONAL in Eastbourne, GBR (Grass)
Champions: Ekaterina Makarova def. Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-4
Michael Llodra def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-2
AEGON Championships in London, GBR (Grass)
Champion: Sam Querrey def. Mardy Fish 7-6, 7-5
Gerry Weber Open in Halle, GER (Grass)
Champion: Lleyton Hewitt def. Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6, 6-4
*This was the first win for Lleyton Hewitt over Federer in 15 tries. The last win for Hewitt came in a Davis Cup semifinal back in 2003.
UNICEF Open in Rosmalen, Holland (Grass)
Champions: Justine Henin def. Andrea Petkovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-0
Thank you to all that read the entry on my blog. You are what makes this possible so join me again tomorrow for the extensive review of Wimbledon!
Fri./Sat.- Wimbledon in Review
Next week: Players to watch in the U.S. Open Series (don't forget to vote in the polls I set up a few days ago for your opinions on the U.S. Open Series)
I will also preview the Atlanta Tennis Championships sometime late next week. Stay tuned as always and once again, thank you for reading.