Saturday, June 07, 2014

More, More, More

We can't stop the arrival of the future, nor can we rewrite the events of the past. And over the last two weeks in Paris, no one could find a way to stop Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros, either. Not the older, nor the younger. Not one player's destiny, nor the impatience of another to experience ultimate grand slam success, could divert the 27-year old Russian from once again -- for a fifth time -- having the tournament of a lifetime.

Try as she might -- and she did try with all she had at her disposal, managing to come closer to succeeding than any other woman over the past two weeks -- Romania's Simona Halep could not grasp Sharapova by the ankle and pull her back down to earth as she was in the process of once again rising above her opponent, the crowd and the court just as this year's women's singles final reached a critical stage in the deciding set. Lifting her game to a different level at the most crucial moment yet again, Sharapova emerged with a 6-4/6-7(5)/6-4 victory in a three-hour battle against a 22-year old who was appearing in the first major final of her career. After the first three-set RG final in thirteen years, nine-time slam finalist Sharapova offered up the judgment that it was the "toughest grand slam final" in which she's ever played.

No one dared argue with her verdict, either.

At the start of the match, a slam final featuring a Romanian for the first time in thirty-four years, Halep did what many of Sharapova's eventually vanquished challengers have done -- she jumped to an early lead. When a Sharapova shot bounced off the net cord, Halep went up 30/15 on the Russian's serve in the first game of the match. A double-fault wasted a game point, then another handed the Romanian an early break chance. When Sharapova took a swing at a Halep return and shot a backhand long, the first break of the day was attained. A game later, Halep moved Sharapova from side the side, opening up the court, as she has so often at this slam, for a backhand winner up the line to reach game point. A forehand put-away of a sitter put her up 2-0. While the bevy of close supporters in the stands, many sporting red t-shirts that read, "Allez Simona!", already having no doubt, Halep's quick start put to rest any lingering doubts that the Romanian might feel the pressure of her first grand slam final as so many have in the past, leading to disastrous results. She wouldn't, but Sharapova also wasn't going to allow Halep to do to her what she's done to so many others as she's climbed from outside the Top 50 to a Romanian-best ever ranking of #4 in the world over the past year.

Halep's coach, Wim Fissette, had said yesterday of his charge's match prospects, "If she goes backwards in the court, she will have no chance. Maria will kill her." Of course, factored into that equation was what Sharapova chose to do. Determined to not be led around the court like Halep's other foes, or even how Genie Bouchard pushed the Russian wide and then hit controlling shots behind her during the first half of their semifinal two days ago, Sharapova used her forehand to prevent Halep from comfortably directing the rallies, keeping her from creating many of the angles and develop the point construction that makes the Romanian's game so pleasant to watch. In game #4, Sharapova's running shot up the line got her her first break point of the game, then another forehand winner off a ball that had bounced high off the net gave her her fourth. She finally converted it when a Halep shot went wide to bring the match even at 2-2. Sharapova already had nine forehand winners.

It took Sharapova ten minutes to do it but, overcoming a double-fault that had given Halep a break point, the Russian held for 3-2. A game later, after Halep approached a sliced forehand from Sharapova that had landed at the service "T" and sent a shot back at the Russian rather than down the line for a winner, Sharapova lofted a perfectly-placed lob winner over Halep to go up 30/15. What followed was a Halep error and a Sharapova backhand down the line to get the break and her fourth straight game, then her fifth when Halep committed an error on game point that gave Sharapova the hold for a 5-2 advantage.

While Halep was playing well, Sharapova's groundstokes weren't allowing her to move her around the court effectively enough for the in-point aggression that has turned jump-started her career to become a real factor in the rallies. Rather than angled shots that opened the court for Halep winners, it was Sharapova's forehand that was controlling the action. Serving for the set at 5-3, though, it was the Russian's serve that prevented a routine finish. A double-fault gave Halep a 40/15 lead, and then a wide forehand gave her the break for 5-4. It only delayed the inevitable, though, as the Russian's groundstrokes got her into the lead a game later and on her second set point Halep's forehand went wide as Sharapova won 6-4, becoming the first woman to take a set off Halep at this slam.

With no three-set women's finals in Paris since Jennifer Capriati and Kim Clijsters' 12-10 final set clash in 2001, one wondered if history was going to repeat itself. Halep only got 51% of her first serves in during the opening set, and only won 39% of her second serves. Sharapova opened the 2nd set with a love hold, then the pressure of her groundstrokes forced Halep, having already been forced to save two break points in game #2, to go for more on her second serve. She double-faulted to gave Sharapova a third chance. A backhand error put the Russian up 2-0, and for a moment Halep seemed down, as Sharapova's hitting-through strokes, often sent back with topspin, were continuing to prevent the Romanian from doing what she wanted, needed, to do to win. Sharapova's offense had become her best defense against Halep's game, but was she going to go out quietly?

Umm, no.

A game later, Halep grabbed a 30/love lead on Sharapova's serve, then reached break point after her defensive get kept a point alive and Sharapova, as she's often done since her shoulder surgery, chose to let the ball bounce rather than end the rally with an overhead. A high forehand return was promptly hit behind Sharapova for a winner by Halep, who got things back on serve a point later at 2-1. It all seemed to give Halep's confidence a shot in the arm, as she finally began to move Sharapova around the court a game later. She went up 40/love, then held by getting back several bit Sharapova shots until the Russian finally threw in an error that made things 2-2. Sharapova double-faulted three times in the next game, falling down 15/40 at one point, but somehow managed to hold for 3-2, then three games later Halep saved two break points to finish off the fifth straight hold of serve in the set to knot things at 4-4.

As the set went down the stretch, the five holds were immediately followed by four straight breaks of serve to force a tie-break. Halep opened the TB by firing groundstrokes up the middle until Sharapova sprayed a forehand wide. It set the tone for the rest of the TB, as all of the twelve points that were eventually played ended via an error. The server dropped the first four points, as things stood at 2-2. Halep couldn't get back a big Sharapova forehand and the Russian maintained a mini-break at 4-2, then 5-3. But when Sharapova shot her response to a Halep backhand wide, the Romanian got back on serve. Serving down 5-4, Halep held back-to-back points via Sharapova shots that went long, reaching set point at 6-5. A wide Sharapova backhand handed the 7-5 TB to the Romanian, flipping the script on the previous three-setters featuring the Russian at this Roland Garros, as it was she who'd failed to win the big points to end things in two sets, losing the final four points after having been just two points from victory.

While Halep's 8-1 three-set record this season was wonderful, Sharapova's ridiculously strong 19-match three-set win streak on clay has to be one of the scarier stats on tour at the moment. For anyone facing the Russian, that is. After a long break between sets as Sharapova left the court, the Russian opened the 3rd set with a break of serve, but Halep got it back a game later when Sharapova pushed her backhand response to a drop shot wide to put the score at 1-1, with breaks of serve coming in six straight games. Then, after Halep overcame a love/30 deficit to hold with a forehand winner for 2-1, she began to vary the speed of her groundstrokes, smartly taking away some of the pace that Sharapova's own shots feed upon. The Romanian held break points for 3-1, but couldn't secure either of her chances. A game later, Sharapova's great defense gave her a 40/love lead on Halep's serve, then the break put her up 3-2. Sharapova quickly held for 4-2.

In previous matches, this would be "the moment it all changed." But it wasn't here. Not quite, anyway. Though her efforts would prove to be in vain, 2008 RG Girls champ Halep proved she's a cut above most, if not all, of her young contemporaries. Halep held serve, then carved out a break point a game later. Sharapova's double-fault leveled things at 4-4 as the match hit the three-hour mark and the rallies that were absent early on began to drive the action.

But this Roland Garros has been Sharapova's to win ever since Serena Williams was eliminated from her half of the draw early in the first week, and even Halep didn't have enough today to change that. The Russian, as is her wont, took her game up one more level... and her opponent could not follow her there. The Russian took a 40/love lead on the Romanian's serve in game #9, securing the break with a crosscourt backhand winner to lead 5-4 and serve for the title. She went up 30/love there with a swing volley winner, then 40/love when Halep's backhand return went wide. Sharapova served wide on match point, and Halep couldn't keep her return inside the lines.

Moving toward the net on the point, Sharapova saw the ball land out. After having shouted her lungs out all week celebrating her accomplishments, this time she quietly -- almost daintily -- dropped her racket and fell to her knees, covering her face with her hands and burying it in her lap. Though surely most people had, at least on some level, expected to possibly see this moment on the final weekend of this Roland Garros, Sharapova obviously wasn't one of them.

But that's what makes Sharapova such a great champion, isn't it? She takes nothing for granted. She didn't when she won her first slam crown as a 17-year old at Wimbledon nearly ten years. She didn't today when she became the first Russian player -- male or female -- to win the same slam more than once. And if reaches this same moment again in the future, she won't then, either.

Of course, being who she is, quiet will never do. After shaking Halep's hand, the still-wound-up Sharapova fell to her knees a second time, this time with her racket in hand... and she celebrated in far less quiet manner.

While disappointed, Halep took the loss in stride, obviously not wanted to put a dent in the confident mindset that has accompanied her climb up the WTA ladder. It's been thirty-six years since a Romanian woman (Virginia Ruzici, Halep's manager, in Paris in '78) won a major title, but it's easy to see a near future where Halep will get another opportunity to end the drought. With a 13-3 record in her last three slams, her career arrow seems to be only just starting to point upward.

Sharapova, after so many people -- few of them REALLY paying attention -- have openly wondered why someone with so much going on in her lucrative off-court life would choose to put herself through so much training in order to continue to play tennis, did her level best at this tournament to prove precisely why she does so. The best competitor in the world of tennis loves the sport. And she loves to win. Everything that goes into making that happen as often as possible is just part of the process.

Left by her injured and/or upset generational contemporaries to block the door being charged by the army of NextGen would-be-stars looking to make a name for themselves, Sharapova personally eliminated twentysomethings Garbine Muguruza, Bouchard and Halep -- all in three-setters -- in her final three matches at this slam. She might have taught them all a few things about what it'll take to become a real champion one day, too. Not to mention to still be able to call themselves that a full decade later.

It's been quite a career that Sharapova has put together. And, really, it's a testament to her -- both the teenage and current versions -- that she's been able to do it. She's always seemed different from the rest, equally capable of being both a superstar AND a champion. All these years after everyone first saw such traits in her, she's been all that and, as she's often shown, quite a bit more, too.

...the junior champions have been crowned.

Darya Kasatkina, 17, took the three-set girls final over top-seeded Serb Ivana Jorovic, 6-7(5)/6-2/6-3. The Hordette becomes the first Russian to win the RG junior title (Russia's Andrey Rublev joined her in the winner's circle, by the way, winning the boys crown) since Nadia Petrova in 1998. Kasatkina is the second Hordette to lift a slam trophy this year, after Elizaveta Kulichkova won in Melbourne. Both used their winning occasions to end their junior careers on an extremely high note. The last time two different Russian girls won back-to-back slam titles was 2002.

While Halep lost in the women's singles final, a pair of Swarmettes did take the junior doubles. The Ioanas -- Ducu and Loredana Rosca -- defeated CiCi Bellis & Marketa Vondrousova in an 11-9 match tie-break. Other all-Swarmette junior slam title-winning teams have included Ruxandra Dragomir & Irina Spirlea at Roland Garros in 1990, and Mihaela Buzarnescu & Raluca Olaru at the U.S. Open in 2006.

...meanwhile, some familiar faces won the Legends competition:

...elsewhere, the grass season has already begun. Qualifying is underway in Birmingham, and Kristyna Pliskova just won a challenger event in Nottingham. And here we go.


during NBC's coverage, without mentioning any names when highlighting Halep's strong play in the final set, Mary Carillo essentially called Gael Monfils a "chowder head" for his usual "I'll-get-out-your-way-now" exit from the men's draw. Have no fear, though, commentator/sleuth Ted Robinson figured out her intentions and said his name out loud. Carillo didn't correct him.

...and, finally...

No, not that. This.

I'll be foregoing Backspin tradition and not posting a stand-alone "Clay Court Awards" this week, and will instead tread into unchartered waters and combine the clay/Fed Cup/grass seasons into one 2nd Quarter BSA report following Wimbledon. In its replacement, I'll post a quick update of the updated "Ms. Backspin" rankings.

It should be interesting. As of right now, I'm not sure there's a "clear-cut" Player of the Year five months into the season, and there's at least three -- and maybe four, or more if you consider doubles and Fed Cup team candidates -- who could put on a back-half of 2014 rush and grade out as the top player(s) of the season. Remember, at this point three seasons ago, no one was thinking they'd be touting Petra Kvitova as the tour Player of the Year that she ultimately became for 2011.

#7 Maria Sharapova/RUS def. #4 Simona Halep/ROU 6-4/6-7(5)/6-4

#1 Rafael Nadal/ESP vs. #2 Novak Djokovic/SRB

#1 Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) vs. #2 Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA)

#11 Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin (FRA/FRA) def. #12 Granollers/M.Lopez (ESP/ESP) 6-3/7-6(1)

Groenefeld/Rojer (GER/NED) def. #8 Goerges/Zimonjic (GER/SRB) 4-6/6-2 (10-7)

#8 Darya Kasatkina/RUS def. #1 Ivana Jorovic/SRB 6-7(5)/6-2/6-3

#4 Andrey Rublev/RUS def. #7 Jaume Antoni Munar Clar/ESP 6-2/7-5

Ioana Ducu/Ioana Loredana Rosca (ROU/ROU) def. #7 CiCi Bellis/Marketa Vondrousova (USA/CZE) 6-1/5-7 (11-9)

Benjamin Bonzi/Quentin Halys (FRA/FRA) def. Lucas Miedler/Akira Santillan (AUT/AUS) 6-3/6-3

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Aniek Van Koot/NED 7-6(7)/6-4

#1 Shingo Kunieda/JPN def. #2 Stephane Houdet/FRA 6-4/6-1

#2 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley (JPN/GBR) def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek Van Koot (NED/NED) 7-6(3) 3-6 (10-8)

#1 Joachim Gerard/Stephane Houdet (BEL/FRA) def. Gustavo Fernandez/Nicolas Peifer (ARG/FRA) 4-6 6-3 (11-9)

17...Serena Williams, USA
7...Venus Williams, USA
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2...Li Na, CHN

21...Serena Williams (17-4)
14...Venus Williams (7-7)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
4...Li Na (2-2)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)

32 - Serena Williams (17-13-2)
22 - Venus Williams (7-13-2)
11 - Lisa Raymond (0-6-5)
10 - Cara Black (0-5-5)
7 - Liezel Huber (0-5-2)
6 - Katarina Srebotnik (0-1-5)
5 - Samantha Stosur (1-2-2)
NOTE: doubles finalists Errani & Vinci both have 4

*SLAM FINALS IN THE 2010's - 2010-14*
7...Serena Williams (6-1)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
4...Li Na (2-2)
2...Kim Clijsters (2-0)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
2...Samantha Stosur (1-1)
2...Vera Zvonareva (0-2)
1...Marion Bartoli (1-0)
1...Sara Errani (0-1)
1...Petra Kvitova (1-0)
1...Dominika Cibulkova (0-1)
1...SIMONA HALEP (0-1)
1...Justine Henin (0-1)
1...Sabine Lisicki (0-1)
1...Aga Radwanska (0-1)

11 - Serena Williams
10 - Anabel Medina-Garrigues

1998 Nadia Petrova/RUS def. Jelena Dokic/AUS
1999 Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP def. Stephanie Foretz/FRA
2000 Virginie Razzano/FRA def. Maria-Emilia Salerni/ARG
2001 Kaia Kanepi/EST def. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
2002 Angelique Widjaja/INA def. Ashley Harkleroad/USA
2003 Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER def. Vera Dushevina/RUS
2004 Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL def. Madalina Gojnea/ROU
2005 Agnes Szavay/HUN def. Raluca Olaru/ROU
2006 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
2007 Alize Cornet/FRA def. Mariana Duque-Marino/COL
2008 Simona Halep/ROU def. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Daria Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER def. Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI def. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Darya Kasatkina/RUS def. Ivana Jorovic/SRB

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
2013 Belinda Bencic, SUI
2014 Darya Kasatkina, RUS

AO: Karolina Pliskova, CZE
RG: Elina Svitolina, UKR
WI: Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
US: Daria Gavrilova, RUS
AO: An-Sophie Mestach, BEL
RG: Ons Jabeur, TUN
WI: Ashleigh Barty, AUS
AO: Grace Min, USA
AO: Taylor Townsend, USA
RG: Annika Beck, GER
WI: Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
US: Samantha Crawford, USA
AO: Ana Konjuh, CRO
RG: Belinda Bencic, SUI
WI: Belinda Bencic, SUI
US: Ana Konjuh, CRO
AO: Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
RG: Darya Kasatkina, RUS

1965 Wimbledon - Olga Morozova
1971 Roland Garros - Elena Granatourova
1971 Wimbledon - Marina Kroshina
1975 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1975 US Open - Natasha Chmyreva
1976 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1986 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Roland Garros - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 US Open - Natalia Zvereva
1998 Roland Garros - Nadia Petrova
1999 Wimbledon - Lina Krasnoroutskaya
2002 Wimbledon - Vera Dushevina
2002 US Open - Maria Kirilenko
2006 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2006 US Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2007 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2009 Australian Open - Ksenia Pervak
2010 US Open - Daria Gavrilova
2014 Australian Open - Elizaveta Kulichkova
2014 Roland Garros - Darya Kasatkina

[Women's Singles]
2007 Justine Henin, BEL
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2009 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Li Na, CHN
2012 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2013 Serena Williams, USA
2014 Maria Sharapova, RUS
[Men's Doubles]
2003 Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan
2004 Xavier Malisse & Olivier Rochus
2005 Jonas Bjorkman & Max Mirnyi
2006 Jonas Bjorkman & Max Mirnyi
2007 Mark Knowles & Daniel Nestor
2008 Pablo Cuevas & Luis Horna
2009 Lukas Dlouhy & Leander Paes
2010 Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic
2011 Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor
2012 Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor
2013 Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan
2014 Julien Benneteau & Edouard Roger-Vasselin
[Girl's Doubles]
1999 Flavia Pennetta & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2000 Maria Jose Martinez (Sanchez) & Anabel Medina (Garrigues), ESP/ESP
2001 Petra Cetkovska & Renata Voracova, CZE/CZE
2002 Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Barbora Strycova, GER/CZE
2003 Marta Fraga & Adriana Gonzales, ESP/ESP
2004 Katerina Bohmova & Michaella Krajicek, CZE/NED
2005 Victoria Azarenka & Agnes Szavay, BLR/HUN
2006 Sharon Fichman & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, CAN/RUS
2007 Ksenia Milevskaya & Urszula Radwanska, BLR/POL
2008 Polona Hercog & Jessica Moore, SLO/AUS
2009 Elena Bogdan & Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, ROU/THA
2010 Timea Babos & Sloane Stephens, HUN/USA
2011 Irina Khromacheva & Maryna Zanevska, RUS/UKR
2012 Daria Gavrilova & Irina Khromacheva, RUS/RUS
2013 Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2014 Ioana Ducu & Ioana Loredana Rosca, ROU/ROU

1974 Wimbledon - Chris Evert def. OLGA MOROZOVA
1974 US Open - Chris Evert def. OLGA MOROZOVA
1988 Roland Garros - Steffi Graf def. NATALIA ZVEREVA
2004 Wimbledon - MARIA SHARAPOVA def. Serena Williams
2006 Roland Garros - Justine Henin-Hardenne def. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA
2006 US Open - MARIA SHARAPOVA def. Justine Henin-Hardenne
2007 Australian Open - Serena Williams def. MARIA SHARAPOVA
2007 US Open - Justine Henin def. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA
2008 Australian Open - MARIA SHARAPOVA def. Ana Ivanovic
2008 Roland Garros - Ana Ivanovic def. DINARA SAFINA
2009 Australian Open - Serena Williams def. DINARA SAFINA
2010 Wimbledon - Serena Williams def. VERA ZVONAREVA
2010 US Open - Kim Clijsters def. VERA ZVONAREVA
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova def. MARIA SHARAPOVA
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka def. MARIA SHARAPOVA
2012 Roland Garros - MARIA SHARAPOVA def. Sara Errani
2013 Roland Garros - Serena Williams def. MARIA SHARAPOVA
2014 Roland Garros - MARIA SHARAPOVA def. Simona Halep

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #4 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #18 Eugenie Bouchard/CAN
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): #7 Maria Sharapova/RUS
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR d. Alberta Brianti/ITA 6-3/5-7/10-8
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd: (WC) Taylor Townsend/USA d. #20 Alize Cornet/FRA 6-4/4-6/6-4
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd: #27 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. #5 Petra Kvitova 6-7(3)/6-1/9-7
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Final: #7 Maria Sharapova/RUS d. #4 Simona Halep/ROU 6-4/6-7(5)/6-4
FIRST VICTORY: Aga Radwanska/POL (def. Sh.Zhang/CHN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Kaia Kanepi/EST (lost 1st Rd. to Niculescu/ROU)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: The Chinese (0-4 in 1st Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Pauline Parmentier/FRA (4th Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Pauline Parmentier/FRA (4th Rd.)
IT "Spaniard": Garbine Muguruza/ESP
CRASH & BURN: #1 Serena Williams/USA (DC, lost 2nd Rd./Muguruza) & #2 Li Na/CHN (lost 1st Rd./Mladenovic - 1st AO champ out early since 2000)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #27 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS (3rd Rd.: Kvitova up 3-1 in 3rd, twice served for match; Kuznetsova wins 9-7)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA (last player alive in singles, doubles & mixed)
DOUBLES STAR: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER
AMG SLAM FUTILITY UPDATE: Medina-Garrigues lost in second round of qualifying to Smitkova/CZE (ends streak of 41 con. appearances in slam main draws)

All for Day 14. More tomorrow.


Blogger Eric said...

Maria's last 6 finals have been on clay. And of her past 11 titles going back to May 2010, have been clay. If you expand that more, it's 10 out of 14 since Amelia Island in 2008. We should be calling her the return of the Ice Maiden.

Russians in slam finals --
Natasha Zvereva was in the 1988 French Open final against Steffi.

Sun Jun 08, 02:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

well...I got confused bc you changed between russians/ussr in some categories...

Sun Jun 08, 02:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

So Halep lost the last 8 points of the match?

I overslept this morning and missed the match. Was it nerves? Or was Maria too good?

Sun Jun 08, 02:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger FerchoR said...

Actually Maria, as well as Simona, played a great match. Look at the stats. So many points played and not that much were unforced errors. It was a classic. Beatiful tennis ce soir.

Sun Jun 08, 04:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger FerchoR said...

I guess she evolved imto a shot maker. I was surprised when she hit some spin. We got used to her flat shots, but today she mixed them up. Most of her points finished with a powerful flat strike, but she has developed into a grinder

Sun Jun 08, 04:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Eric, Halep's serve was off throughout, and it did her in at the end of the match. She'd served beautifully in the quarters and semis. So, to some extent, I'd says nerves, yes.

I remember watching that Amelia Island match. Maria was getting beaten rather handily and then her opponent sustained an injury and that was that.

Sun Jun 08, 09:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Ok...John one set all, on serve, love 15...that is not "danger" for Novak Djokovic. You have to be up 5 love on any of the Big 3...especially when you consider how easily Djokovic can break Nadal.

Also...They're so even... (Nadal first)
Clay 13-4
Grass 2-1
Hard 7- 4

Slam Finals 3-3
Hard 2-2
Grass 0-1
Clay 1-0

McEnroe - "Nadal is best volleyer of top 4"


Commentators -- The reactive superlatives need to stop.

Sun Jun 08, 11:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Things Federer owes Wawrinka...

- gold medal
- if Rafa never eclipses the GS mark
- if Rafa never gets 2 career slams


This is just an observation...when Djokovic has an injury or a malady...he always wins those points with amazing physical tennis. When Federer and Nadal have injuries, they lose. I suppose that's one way to control the match and the crowd. Always playing the underdog.


Things that can beat Nadal at Roland Garros:
- Nadal's knees
- Nadal's emotions
- Nadal's back


streaks in tact
- sloane (losing to the finalist)
- sharapova (even years)
- halep (every other tournament in 2014)

Sun Jun 08, 12:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I think if Nadal hadn't lost Australia, Djokovic might have been the winner today.

Sun Jun 08, 12:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, I've guess I've always left Zvereva off that final list because she soon represented her native Belarus when the USSR collapsed. But since I included Morozova in those slam finals, I suppose I SHOULD have Zvereva there, too.

Sun Jun 08, 02:36:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home