Friday, May 29, 2015

RG.6- The Gilded Alize: A Tale of Today *

As for the whole of Day 6, there was really nothing particularly "earth-shattering" that went down. No matter how much Alize Cornet made it SEEM as if something had occurred that had never before been seen in the history of planet earth.

But that's just her way... so she gets a pass on making the THIRD round seem like the SEVENTH.

Of course, if you just won a match that included nearly 100 unforced errors, you'd fall on your back and thank the Tennis Gods for allowing you to survive, as well.

In the closing moments of #29 Cornet's match with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the Pastry found herself serving up 5-4, 30/30 in the 3rd set. Looking to reach match point, Cornet aimed her serve towards the deuce court to her left and saw the ball come off her racket and smack into the net on the far right side... of the ad court. Hey, at least she kept it IN the court. Technically. She was broken a point later to tie things at 5-5.

Was Alize going to collapse in an oh-so-French way, with throw-your-hands-up-and-shake-your-head craziness and the-earth-has-just-imploded-so-I'm-going-to-make-the-most-of-this-moment style drama?

Well, maybe that might have happened. But Lucic let Cornet off the hook. Seeking to reach her third career slam 4th Round, but second in the last three majors after her maiden Round of 16 run in London in 1999 at age 16, the 32-year old Lucic threw in a hail of errors of her own. Three consecutive groundstrokes were shot into the net to give the break advantage back to Cornet, allowing her to serve for the match a second time. After failing to get shots over the net in game #11, Lucic perhaps overcorrected in the windy conditions and sailed multiple shots long in game #12. Lucic's 59th unforced error of the day ended things, with the Pastry winning 4-6/6-3/7-5 to give France back-to-back years (Parmentier '14) with women in the Round of 16 in Paris for the first time since at least one woman reached the 4th Round every year from 1997-2007.

"When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one." - Mark Twain

Of course, it was all enough to cause Cornet to hit the dirt on Chatrier Court and roll around on the terre battue like a, umm, well... like a Pastry in the Round of 16.

But that's okay. After all, at least for today, it's all about Cornet.

...Alize aside, maybe the most interesting winner on Friday was #7 Ana Ivanovic. Three matches in, and we're STILL waiting for the Serb to realize just what an opportunity she has at this Roland Garros. Once she does, it'll probably be all over for her. But, until then, hope for AnaIvo springs eternal all over again.

The 2008 champ trundled the last remaining teenager in the draw out of the women's draw today, eliminating Donna Vekic 6-0/6-3. This is Ivanovic's third Round of 16 result in Paris since she won the title in her second of consecutive appearances in the RG final seven years ago. After turning around her unfortunate post-2008 slam fortunes a few seasons ago, reaching two QF and four Round of 16's over a seven-slam stretch that ended with the '14 Australian Open, AnaIvo came into Paris having put up 3r-3r-2r-1r results in majors over the last twelve months. Ironically, that has been the very stretch during which she's climbed back into the Top 10 for the first time since 2009, finished in the Top 5 for the first time since 2008 and ended a tour title drought of over two years by winning four crowns in '14, setting a new career high number for sustained success over the course of a single season.

So, after all these years (and all those coaches), Ivanovic is still trying to get that perfect balance. For one brief moment, she had it all in Paris. The #1 ranking. A slam title. The label as the new star of the WTA tour.

That didn't work out so well, though.

If things work out this time (and with just one former slam finalist/champion standing between her and the final in the bottom half of the draw, it just might), she could find herself within arm's reach of that perfect balance yet again. Just don't tell her about this situation.... it might ruin her chances.

So, shhhhhh. what was the "marquee" match-up of the day for the women, well, what we saw was more of a trailer for the real show that Maria Sharapova will be striving to star in next week. Oh, Samantha Stosur opened well, getting a break of serve to take a 2-1 lead in the 1st set. But that was the extent of the Aussie's challenge on Day 6. She immediately lost her serve a game later, the first of three straight times Sharapova was to break Stosur in the set. Stosur won just 40% of her 1st serves in the set (Sharapova won 67%), while she had just seven winners vs. nineteen unforced errors.

Sharapova saved a BP in game #2 of the 2nd, then never looked back. The Russian didn't face another break point, while she broke Stosur mid-way through the set and never relinquished the advantage. a match-up of doubles partners, Ekaterina Makarova handled fellow Hordette Elena Vesnina 6-2/6-4 to reach her first Round of 16 in Paris.

In other 3rd Round matches, in a stark contrast to the first two rounds of play, the Germans most definitely did not have their day on Friday. #13 Lucie Safarova eliminated the first of the five women from Germany who reached the Final 32, defeating #20 Sabine Lisicki 6-3/7-6(2), then #21 Garbine Muguruza took out another, taking down #11 Angelique Kerber 4-6/6-2/6-2 as the Stuttgart champ's early run in Paris turned out to be just like her "Queen of Clay" push earlier this spring -- short-lived. Kerber had been 3-0 vs. the Spaniard coming into the match.

Meanwhile, 20-year old #19 seed Elina Svitolina became the youngest woman to advance in the bottom half with a 6-3/2-6/6-4 victory over fellow twentysomething Annika Beck, making the Germans 0-3 on Day 6. Maybe Beck's team should have convinced her that Svitolina was born in Warsaw rather than Odessa?

Germany still has Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges remaining to play on Day 7, though.

In the final 3rd Rounder of the day, 33-year old Flavia Pennetta (#28) became the oldest Round of 16er (so far, as she can still be topped by TWO players in the top half -- Serena and Francesca) with her surprisingly swift 6-3/6-4 win over #8 Carla Suarez-Navarro, who turned in her "dark horse" title contender status a bit earlier than most anticipated. doubles, Hingis/Mirza, Hlavackova/Hradecka, Knapp/Vinci and the Rodionovas advanced, while Bencic/Siniakova upset Kudrayatseva/Pavlyuchenkova. In mixed, Kiki Mladenovic & Daniel Nestor, seeking to win the third leg of a Career Mixed Grand Slam as a duo (they've won Wimbledon and the AO) won, though another Pastry, Caroline Garcia, lost playing alongside Bob Bryan.

...LIKE FROM DAY 6: If looks could kill... Kiki would still be wearing black.

...FLASHBACK FRIDAY FROM DAY 6: Timi of the People: The Early Years

...LIKE FROM DAY 6: Smiling in Paris has officially become an annual habit for Garbi


...and, finally, the full Round of 16 List-A-Palooza arrives tomorrow, but here's a mini-look at some stats involving the women who've reached the 4th Round in the bottom half of the draw:

#2 Maria Sharapova: she's reached 6 consecutive slam 4th Rounds, 5 in a row in Paris
#7 Ana Ivanovic: her first slam 4th Rd. since Melbourne '14
#9 Ekaterina Makarova: 4 consecutive slam 4th Rounds (she's had 3 straight QF, 2 straight SF)
#13 Lucie Safarova: she's reached the 4th Round at 4 of the last 5 slams (before this run, she was 0-for-27 in slams, and 2-of-35 in her career)
#19 Elina Svitolina: this is her first career slam Round of 16
#21 Garbine Muguruza: she's been iffy on the regular tour at times, but she's shined in majors: 2 consecutive slame Round of 16's, 2 consecutive in Paris
#28 Flavia Pennetta: her last Round of 16 in Paris came in 2010
#29 Alize Cornet: maybe she had reason to celebrate wildly. This is just her third slam 4th Round, and the first at RG. She's yet to reach a QF.

x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
#7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB vs. #9 Ekaterina Makarova/RUS
#19 Elina Svitolina/UKR vs. #29 Alize Cornet/FRA
#28 Flavia Pennetta/ITA vs. #21 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
#13 Lucie Safarova/CZE vs. #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS

x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
#5 Kei Nishikori/JPN vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili/RUS
#14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/FRA vs. #4 Tomas Berdych/CZE
#8 Stan Wawrinka/SUI vs. #12 Gilles Simon/FRA
#13 Gael Monfils/FRA vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

Maman et Papa à Paris

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

*FRENCH WOMEN IN RG ROUND OF 16 - since 1997*
1997 Mary Pierce
1998 Sandrine Testud
1999 Julie Halard-Decugis
2000 Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce
2001 Sandrine Testud
2002 Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce
2003 Amelie Mauresmo
2004 Amelie Mauresmo
2005 Mary Pierce
2006 Amelie Mauresmo
2007 Marion Bartoli
2008 -
2009 Virginie Razzano, Aravane Rezai
2010 -
2011 Marion Bartoli
2012 -
2013 -
2014 Pauline Parmentier
2015 Alize Cornet
NOTE: Mladenovic still to play 3rd Rd.

TOP QUALIFIER: Veronica Cepede Royg/PAR
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #11 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Wang Yafan/CHN d. #15 Richel Hogenkamp/NED 2-6/7-6(7)/8-6 (saved 4 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - Francesca Schiavone/ITA d. #xx Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS 6-7(11)/7-5/10-8 (3:49; third-longest RG match)
FIRST VICTORY: (Q) Teliana Pereira/BRA (def. WC Ferro/FRA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Caroline Garcia/FRA (lost 1st Rd. to Vekic/CRO)
REVELATION LADIES: The New Australians
NATION OF POOR SOULS: United States (most players in draw w/ 17, but tied for 4th w/ just 4 1st Round winners)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP, Paula Kania/POL, Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL, Teliana Pereira/BRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Virginie Razzano/FRA & Amandine Hesse/FRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: In 3rd Rd.: Cornet(W), Mladenovic
IT "??": xx
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: Azarenka/BLR, Lucic-Baroni/CRO, Stephens/USA, Ivanovic/SRB
CRASH & BURN: #2 Simona Halep/ROU (lost 2r to Lucic-Baroni/CRO)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #19 Elina Svitolina/UKR (2nd Rd. vs. Putintseva - down 6-1/3-0, then 4-1 in 3rd; won 9-7 deciding set)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Francesca Schiavone/ITA
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): Nominees: Schiavone/ITA (34; ended 8-match slam losing streak; def. Kuznetsova 10-8 3rd set in 2nd Rd.), Date-Krumm/Schiavone (78-year old doubles duo), S.Williams/USA

* - a nod to Mark Twain's The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873)

...born Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910). American author, lecturer and humorist. Writer of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain's writing and large personality made him a public figure and, ultimately, an American icon. A renowned traveler, Twain entertained fans around the world with his opinionated wit.

All for Day 6. More tomorrow.


Blogger Zidane said...

In case you'd like a translation of Bacsinszky's posts:
First tweet: "Was it necessary to bring back these old files? Say, the first picture?"
Second tweet: "And you had that one, right?"

Fri May 29, 08:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I don't know why they don't have the little "view translation" thing on the embedded versions of the tweets. You can click on the embed and go to the full page version of the tweet which includes it, but it doesn't show up otherwise. Oh, well. :\

Thanks, though! :)

Fri May 29, 09:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Svitolina vs. Cornet is going to be very juicy, I think. Of course, it will be my luck that it's the first match of the day; I can't do that--too early. I hope I get to see it, though ecause thongs could get very fiery. I have no idea who will win. There will be nerves, and there will be some great shot-making.

Fri May 29, 10:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ha!--"things." But thongs could get fiery, too :D

Fri May 29, 10:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha! True, so true. :D

By the way, I corrected one stat in there about the unforced errors for Cornet/Lucic. I accidentally used the total points rather than the total UEs. Still, there were nearly 100 combined for the match. And with Cornet involved... the inflated stat didn't seem ALL that out of the question! :)

Sat May 30, 12:31:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

I am not a fan of cornet but would love her to break through in her home slam. Think about the reaction of the crowds. Massive eruption.

Sat May 30, 02:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Petra had a good day. Not only did she win in straight sets, the three players in her quarter who could trouble her all fell -- Keys, Schiavone, Mladenovic.

There is a serious conflict of interest when active coaches act as commentators. It's not fair to the players and the fans. Patrick Mourataglou, while previewing the match between Vika and Serena, said that he would keep his knowledge of Serena to himself. Lindsay Davenport and Justin Gimelstob gleefully reveal secrets that they tell their charges. None of these situations should happen...

Where are all the interview transcripts?

Sat May 30, 03:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Will Corby said...

I don't watch on ESPN much, usually will tune into ESPN3's international feed, but didn't you say in Australia that ESPN claimed 1st ball to last ball commentary of all majors? Or maybe that was just AO? Because RG was on NBC today?

And have you ever tuned into Radio Roland Garros? I like hearing Gigi Salmon, Matt Cronin, Nick Lester et al a lot more than McEnroe and Carillo etc. At least the Radio RG group knows about the ins and outs of the tour and players form at recent non-slam events etc. It's actually quite refreshing when compared to the ESPN or NBC groups.

Sat May 30, 03:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Preach, Will! ESPN commentators know the least.

I really like the Eurosport commentators, a man and woman pair. I always want to know their names.

Sat May 30, 03:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think ESPN's take on "first ball to last" was that they had the first action on Day 1 in Australia, and then would have the men's final of the U.S. later in the year. So, technically, they have the first and last balls, but not all the balls in between. ;)

NBC has been very stubborn about not giving up it's stake in Roland Garros, especially now that it's the only over-the-air slam carrier of matches in the U.S..

Also, ESPN tends to like to ignore that Tennis Channel covers matches, as well. Even while the on-screen schedule showed TC all week I don't think Patrick McEnroe ever once mentioned it while reading off the times of coverage the last few days.

Of course, ESPN is expert at claiming supremacy in things that, when looked at too closely, is really just a case similar to a house being held up with cardboard boxes and popsicle sticks that you can't see from road.

Sat May 30, 04:07:00 PM EDT  

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