Friday, June 08, 2012

RG.13- The Masque of The Radwanska


It's the night before the Roland Garros women's final. Do you know where The Radwanska is?

As this tournament has gone on, it's sort of looked as if the powers of The Rad have waned. Not surprising, considering Its alter ego was ejected from the grounds a full week ago. Even a powerful creature's long reach has its limits. But wait. There's still one match to go, and it pits Maria Sharapova against an opponent whose best avenue to victory will include a gameplan which wishes to see Maria be moved around the court, especially forward with drop shots, to try to exploit her better-but-still-not-superior movement on the clay. Throwing in a few spins would be good, too. Hitting the ball deep in the court to keep the Russian off-balance and cut down her time to line up winners would be a nice tactic, as well. Sharapova's opponent could indeed be hit off the court if Maria has her way, especially with her great return of serve against a weak second serve. But the opponent has a grinding tactician's -- or maybe a "trickster's?" -- chance.

Come on, now. Does that not sound like the gameplan that would mostly be in play if a certain Pole with a mean Jekyll-esque alter ego were in the final against Sharapova?

Maybe Sara Errani, as close to a "clay court specialist" (she's won nine titles in singles and doubles so far in '12) as there has been on the tour this spring (though I still cringe when I hear someone say that, because it SO sounds like a backhanded compliment), is the perfect Radwanskian proxy for this final RG test for The Rad's Russian nemesis. Actually, even though Errani's the underdog, she might have an even better chance at pulling off the shocker than The Radwanska's human form would, considering this IS a grand slam and A-Rad rarely ever brings her "A"-game to the party in Melbourne, Paris, London or New York. Either way, it looks like The Rad has put all that remains of Its Roland Garros eggs into the basket of one pint-sized Italian against the tall Siberian-born Hordette who would so love to "yoke it up" on Saturday afternoon.

Sharapova, surely the favorite to complete her Career Grand Slam, just might do that, too. But, really, what could be more frustrating to her than to lose in ANOTHER major final to ANOTHER first-time slam champion that is ONCE AGAIN playing in her maiden slam final? It'd be the THIRD time it's happened to her in the past year. And this one would likely sting even more than the other two did.

Oh, Mighty Radwanska, you sneaky little devil... umm, or reasonable facsimile thereof.



=DAY 13 NOTES=
...well, the men's semifinals turned out to be something of a bust. Two straight sets wins by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic over David Ferrer and Roger Federer, respectively.

Of course, not that anyone is going to be TOO upset about a final that pits a player (Nadal) going for his record seventh RG title against another (Djokovic) attempting to complete a "NoleSlam" with his fourth consecutive slam title, not to mention keep alive a chance for a TRUE Grand Slam, as the Serb is the defending champion at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

The Nadal/Novak combination is now charging up the ATP's historical lists so soon after the Rafa/Roger combo set all sorts of new records in recent years. This will mark the fourth straight slam final in which the two have faced off, a men's slam record. This RG will be the ninth consecutive slam won by one or other other man, behind only the 11-slam run of Nadal & Federer. Overall, it's their fifth meeting in a slam final, behind only Nadal & Federer's eight, and their 15th overall meeting in a singles final, 5th on the all-time ATP list (and just five out of 1st place).

Throw Federer into the mix and the three-headed monster of the men's tour is now assured of winning 28 of the last 29 slams, and 30 of 32. Either Federer or Nadal -- or both -- have appeared in 31 of the last 36 slam finals.

Meanwhile, the women will tomorrow crown a sixth different woman a slam champion at the last six slams, and the eighth in the last nine.

...well, no matter what happens tomorrow, Sara Errani is going home a slam champion. She and Roberta Vinci claimed their first career slam titles (their eleventh overall title as a duo, and sixth in '12 alone) by winning the Doubles today in a three-setter over Maria Kirilenko & Nadia Petrova. The Italian pair have now won four straight titles this season and are riding winning streaks of 19 straight matches, and 27 in a row on clay dating back to last year.

Even before the singles final, Errani's slam numbers this year are already phenomenal. She's 10-1 in singles and, after having also reached the AO Doubles final with Vinci, 11-1 in doubles.

Maybe The Radwanska DOES know something that we don't. Could it be that Aga made some sort of pact with Errani when A-Rad nearly double-bageled her in Madrid last month?

...the finals are set in the junior competitions. In the Girls singles, it'll be #2 seed Annika Beck of Germany against Anna Schmiedlova, the Slovak who blazed through highly-seeded opponents earlier in the draw before preventing an all-German final by defeating fellow unseeded semifinalist Antonia Lottner today. Beck defeated Estonia's #12 seed Anett Kontaveit. The Girls #1 doubles seeds, the North American pair of Taylor Townsend (USA) & Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), were upset by the #6-seeded South American pair of Montserrat Gonzalez (PAR) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA). They'll face #2-seeds Daria Gavrilova & Irina Khromacheva, a pair of Russians who put up disappointing results in the singles.

Petra Kvitova's boyfriend, Adam Pavlasek, lost in the singles SF to Canada's Filip Peliwo, who was the Boys RU at the AO. The Czech teen did advance to the doubles final, though. Peliwo is trying once again to become the first junior slam champ from Canada, boy or girl, and will meet Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans in the final. The last time a Belgium boy won a slam was back in 1947.


..."LIKES" FROM DAY 13:

--
that all I had to do is mention that three of my four picks for the junior singles finals were still alive in the semifinals and -- bam! -- all three lose today. It's nice to wield such supernatural powers. If only I could use my abilities to help humanity... or make a lot of money. Whichever came first.

...and, finally, the Wheelchair competition ended as most everyone expected, with Esther Vergeer once again lifting a pair of championship trophies. In the singles final, she double-bageled countrywoman Aniek Van Koot, while she and another countrywoman, Marjolein Buis, won the doubles final by allowing just a single game.

The wins are Vergeer's 21st slam singles and 21st slam doubles titles. She's claimed six of her singles and five of her doubles championships in Paris. Her singles winning streak is now at 457 matches.




*WOMEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#21 Sara Errani/ITA vs. #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS

*MEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #2 Rafael Nadal/ESP

*WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#4 Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) def. #7 Kirilenko/Petrova (RUS/RUS) 4-6/6-4/6-2

*MEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#1 Mirnyi/Nestor (BLR/CAN) vs. #2 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA)

*MIXED DOUBLES FINAL*
#7 Mirza/Bhupathi (IND/IND) def. Jans-Ignacik/S.Gonzalez (POL/MEX) 7-6/6-1

*GIRL'S SINGLES FINAL*
Anna Schmiedlova/SVK vs. #2 Annika Beck/GER

*BOY'S SINGLES FINAL*
#5 Filip Peliwo/CAN vs. #6 Kimmer Coppejans/BEL

*GIRL'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#6 Gonzalez/Haddad Maia (PAR/BRA) vs. #2 Gavrilova/Khromacheva (RUS/RUS)

*BOY'S DOUBLES FINAL*
Harris/Kyrgios (AUS/AUS) vs. #7 Pavlasek/Safranek (CZE/CZE)

*WOMEN'S WHEELCHAIR FINAL*
#1 Esther Vergeer/NED def. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED 6-0/6-0

*MEN'S WHEELCHAIR FINAL*
#2 Stephane Houdet/FRA def. Shingo Kunieda/JPN 6-2/2-6/7-6(6)

*WOMEN'S WC DOUBLES FINAL*
#2 Buis/Vergeer (NED/NED) def. Ellerbrock/Kamiji (GER/JPN) 6-0/6-1

*MEN'S WC DOUBLES FINAL*
Cattaneo/Kunieda (FRA/JPN) def. Jeremiasz/Olsson (FRA/SWE) 3-6/7-6/10-6



*RG "JUNIOR BREAKOUT" WINNERS*
2007 Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
2008 Simona Halep, ROU & Elena Bogdan, ROU
2009 Daria Gavrilova, RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina, UKR
2011 Monica Puig, PUR
2012 Anna Schmiedlova, SVK

*RG "DOUBLES STAR" WINNERS*
2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
2007 Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
2008 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP/ESP
2009 Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP
2010 Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
2011 Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
2012 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA

*2012 WTA DOUBLES*
[overall titles]
6...SARA ERRANI, ITA
6...ROBERTA VINCI, ITA
4...Liezel Huber, USA
4...Lisa Raymond, USA
3...SANIA MIRZA, IND (2 w/ 1 Mixed)
[consecutive titles]
4...Huber/Raymond (February-March)
4...ERRANI/VINCI (April-current)
2...Errani/Vinci (February-March)

*2012 ATP FINALS*
5...RAFAEL NADAL (3-1)
5...NOVAK DJOKOVIC (2-2)
4...Roger Federer (4-0)
4...David Ferrer (3-1)
3...Nicolas Almagro (2-1)
3...Juan Martin del Potro (2-1)
3...Milos Raonic (2-1)
3...Andy Murray (0-3)

**CAREER SLAM FINALS - MEN**
[all-time]
23...Roger Federer *
19...Ivan Lendl
18...Pete Sampras
17...Rod Laver
16...Rafael Nadal *
16...Bjorn Borg
16...Ken Rosewall
[active]
23...Roger Federer (16-7)
16...RAFAEL NADAL (10-5)
8...NOVAK DJOKOVIC (5-2)
5...Andy Roddick (1-4)
4...Lleyton Hewitt (2-2)
3...Juan Carlos Ferrero (1-2)
3...Andy Murray (0-3)

**WON THREE CONSECUTIVE SLAMS, OPEN ERA - MEN**
1969 - Rod Laver, AUS (4 con.)
1993-94 - Pete Sampras, USA
2005-06 - Roger Federer, SUI
2006-07 - Roger Federer, SUI
2010 - Rafael Nadal, ESP
2011-12 - NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SRB

*COMPLETED "CAREER GRAND SLAM" - MEN*
[AO-RG-WI-US; title-winning span]
Fred Perry, GBR [1-1-3-3; 1933-36]
Don Budge, USA [1-1-2-2; 1937-38]
Roy Emerson, USA [6-2-2-2; 1961-67]
Rod Laver, AUS [3-2-4-2; 1960-69]
Andre Agassi, USA [4-1-1-2; 1992-03]
Roger Federer, SUI [4-1-6-5; 2003-10]
Rafael Nadal, ESP [1-6-2-1; 2005-11]
[????]
Novak Djokovic, SRB [3-0-1-1; 2008-12]

=LONG MEN's SLAM TITLE STREAKS - TWO PLAYERS=
11 - Federer/Nadal, 2005-07
9 - DJOKOVIC/NADAL, 2010-12
6 - Sampras/Bruguera, 1993-94
5 - Borg/Connors, 1974-75

=MOST SLAM FINAL MATCH-UPS - MEN=
8 - Federer/Nadal
5 - DJOKOVIC/NADAL
5 - Agassi/Sampras
5 - Lendl-Wilander
4 - Borg/Connors
4 - Borg/McEnroe
4 - Federer/Roddick

=MOST ATP FINAL MATCH-UPS - MEN=
20 - Lendl/McEnroe
19 - Federer/Nadal
16 - Agassi/Sampras
16 - Becker/Edberg
15 - DJOKOVIC/NADAL
15 - Connors/McEnroe

**DJOKOVIC vs. NADAL IN SLAM FINALS**
2010 US Open - Nadal 6-4/5-7/6-4/6-2
2011 Wmbledon - Djokovic 6-4/6-1/1-6/6-3
2011 US Open - Djokovic 6-2/6-4/6-7/6-1
2012 Australian Open - Djokovic 5-7/6-4/6-2/6-7/7-5
2012 Roland Garros - ???

*MEN'S RG TITLES - SINCE 1925*
6...Bjorn Borg (1974-75,1978-81)
6...RAFAEL NADAL (2005-08,2010-11)
4...Henri Cochet (1926,28,30,32)

*CAREER MEN'S RG FINALS*
7...RAFAEL NADAL *
6...Bjorn Borg
5...Henri Cochet
5...Jaroslav Drobny
5...Roger Federer *
5...Rene Lacoste
5...Ivan Lendl
5...Mats Wilander

*RECENT RG CHAMPIONS*
[Women's Doubles]
2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2007 Alicia Molik & Mara Santangelo
2008 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual
2009 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual
2010 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2011 Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka
2012 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci




TOP QUALIFIER: Kiki Bertens/NED
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #6 Samantha Stosur/AUS
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: #1q Kiki Bertens/NED d. Annika Beck/GER 6-1/4-6/9-7
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - Virginie Razzano/FRA d. #5 Serena Williams/USA 4-6/7-6(5)/6-3
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS d. Klara Zakopalova/CZE 6-4/6-7/6-2
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): xx
=============================
FIRST WINNER: #6 Samantha Stosur/AUS (def. Baltacha/GBR)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Mona Barthel/GER (lost 1st Rd. to Lauren Davis/USA)
UPSET QUEENS: United States
REVELATION LADIES: France
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Romania (1-5 in 1st Rd; A.Cadantu double-bageled & 18 total points)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ (QF)
LAST WILD CARDS STANDING: Claire Feuerstein/FRA, Melanie Oudin/USA & Irena Pavlovic/FRA (all 2nd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Mathilde Johansson/FRA (3rd Rd.)
IT: Sara Errani/ITA
MADEMOISELLE/MADAM OPPORTUNITY: Samantha Stosur/AUS
COMEBACK PLAYER: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ
CRASH & BURN: #5 Serena Williams/USA (lost 1st Rd. to Razzano/FRA; led 6-4 & 5-1 in 2nd set tie-break; was 46-0 in career slam 1st Rd. matches)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #1 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (came back from down 7-6/4-0, BPs for 5-0, to Brianti/ITA in 1st Rd.; avoided earliest exit ever by RG women's #1 seed)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Virginie Razzano/FRA
DOUBLES STARS: Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci (ITA/ITA)
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Anna Schmiedlova/SVK




All for Day 13. More tomorrow.

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