Friday, June 09, 2006

The Daily Backspin, RG 13: The Other Final

What if they threw a women's final party and no one showed up?

Kind of feels that way at this year's Roland Garros, doesn't it? Just a little, at least. With the biggest story of the women's draw (Nicole Vaidisova) out in the semis, the biggest-named Russian (Mari-... oh, you know who I mean) out in the Round of 16, and the bulk of the attention going where, to be honest, it SHOULD be pointed -- at the "dream final" match-up between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the "60 (clay-wins-in-a-row) or 4 (slam-titles-in-a-row)" battle that's been brewing since this year's tournament began (or really, as soon as that masterful Rome final was wrapped up).

So, it looks like the women will be served up as an hors d'oeuvre on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's main course. Pardon the "afterthought" feeling that lingers in the air with this match, but the fates have worked against it being much of a story in the crowded sports landscape this weekend. Not a great situation, but a realistic one. It doesn't mean the match won't be a great one, though.

Or does it?



Henin-Hardenne leads 10-1 (JHH 3-0 on clay)
2005 Warsaw Final - JHH 3-6/6-2/7-6
2005 R.G. 4th Rd. - JHH 7-6/4-6/7-5
2006 Berlin QF - JHH 6-4/7-6

...the main problem with this "oh-yeah-they're-playing-too" match is that it might not end up being much of a contest. Henin-Hardenne is 10-1 against Kuznetsova, 3-0 on clay. In Le Petit Taureau's two previous Roland Garros final appearances, she made quick work of both Kim Clijsters (2003) and Mary Pierce (2005), and she's yet to lose a set at this year's event as she's run her record to 21-1 in her last twenty-two matches in Paris. Plainly, JHH is the best female clay court player in the world. As good as she is, Kuznetsova isn't that. She's shown herself to be capable on the terre battue, but hard courts are really her best surface. Ahh, but the one caveat in all this talk is that the Contessova has held match point against the past two eventual RG champs in 4th Round matches -- Anastasia Myskina in '04 and, yes, Henin-Hardenne (2 MP, in fact) a year ago. Plus, the three clay matches between these two have been anything but open-and-shut cases in the Belgian's favor. If Queen Justine is on her game, though, will any of that matter on Saturday? Probably not. Remember, a year ago, Henin-Hardenne said she knew she had Kuznetsova beaten during her come-from-behind win because she looked at her opponent across the net and saw "fear" on her face. JHH won't likely forget that memory, and Kuznetsova may have an even harder time doing so. The final is Henin-Hardenne's to win, or lose. It probably won't be a cakewalk like her two other RG finals, but she'll be holding up her fifth slam trophy within the next 24 hours.


2000 #6 Pierce d. #5 Martinez 6-2/7-5
2001 #4 Capriati d. #12 Clijsters 1-6/6-4/12-10
2002 #3 S.Williams d. #2 V.Williams 7-5/6-3
2003 #4 JHH d. #2 Clijsters 6-0/6-4
2004 #6 Myskina d. #9 Dementieva 6-1/6-2
2005 #10 JHH d. #21 Pierce 6-1/6-1


...the tournament's first champions were crowned on Friday, as Katerina Srebotnik & Nenad Zimonjic defeated Elena Likhovtseva & Daniel Nestor for the Mixed Doubles crown. It's Srebotnik's third career slam Mixed title, joining her '99 Roland Garros and '03 U.S. Open championships.

Daniela Hantuchova & Ai Sugiyama knocked off Australian Open Doubles champs Zi Yan & Jie Zheng in the SF, and will meet #1-seeded Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur in the final.

In Juniors action, the top two girls seeds, #1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS), the Aussie Open Jr. champ, will meet #2 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), who upset Anastasia Myskina a few weeks ago in Warsaw, in the final. Meanwhile, the boys draw produced two unseeded finalists in Canada's Philip Bester and the Slovak Republic's Martin Klizan.

All for Day 13.



Day 14: The Women's Final
Day 15: 2006 Claycourt Awards


Blogger Zidane said...


Sorry to have to do it, but there is once again a spelling mistake in your French. It should not be written "hors douerves" but "hors-d'oeuvre" or "hors d'oeuvre" (both work).

I'm also glad to say that I predicted Kuznetsova in the finals before the beginning of the tournament (winning against Petrova, oops), so her being in final tomorrow really excites me, and I truly want her to win that match! So I believe she will win in three sets, the third one being really tight.

Finally, I'm glad to notice great performances from Canadians in the French Open, Nestor (finalist in Mixed Doubles), Fichman (finalist in girls double) and who-could-have-believed-it Bester in boys singles! Go Bester, go Kuznet and go Canada!!

Fri Jun 09, 09:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Grrrrr... I actually looked that up in the dictionary to make sure I spelled it right, then STILL wrote it down wrong. I think I'm mildly dyslexic. :)

I use "pusillanimous" last week and then spell that incorrectly. My new mantra must be:

spellcheck is my friend
spellcheck is my friend
spellcheck is my friend

I'm just glad you pay close attention. :)

Fri Jun 09, 11:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hey, I got the 6-4/6-4 final score correct. :)

Sat Jun 10, 12:32:00 PM EDT  

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