Monday, 31 May 2010

Roland Garros: R16 Round Up.


Everything it had promised to be.

Both women are clearly different forces of nature to those we saw in that infamous meeting between the two at the SEC back in 2007. And yet some things never change.

Early on yesterday Henin looked to be running away with with it, before Shaza slid, sliced, serve-volleyed -- artefacts not traditionally associated with the Masha repertoire -- to level the match at a set all. All before a small matter of the fading light ended up interfering with play.


I tend to go with the underdog in situations like these and thought it a little sad that Masha was unable to hold on to her 2-0, 40-0 lead today. For me her best chance was to keep Henin on the defence thus preventing her from moving her around – throttling her most pernicious route back into the match.

Early on this seemed plausible, but a succession of errors and impeccable defence from JuJu quickly saw momentum not so much shift, as remain suspended between the two as they fought out what appeared to be almost a microcosm of that match from 2007. It lasted three games. Henin came out on top.

Apparently the first time in five years Juju has dropped a set at RG – a thrilling stat that I’m not keen to over-emphasise. It is worth reminding ourselves that Henin’s not played here since 2008 and that she’s re-emerged with a more uncompromising and aggressive brand of tennis very different to what we used to know of her back then – the way she served out that last game should be proof enough of that.

Something else worrying me is the way in which many are now seizing upon what they perceive as a more one-dimensional facsimile of the Henin they know and love.

There is some truth in this – Henin does now, at times, seem as much a basher as many less gifted players in the top fifty – no artisan backhand’s going to hide that.

And I do have an ear for those that are tired of hearing dull maxims about her “variety” whilst at once dismissing others as “having no plan B” – I don’t have any time for neanderthals like that either – we’re past all that surely.

I would contend however, that Henin’s “variety” is still her modus operandi. That she’s chosen in her 2nd career, to try something different, if a little less prepossessing – given what we know of her ambitions at SW19 – is hardly surprising. Not a lack of variety, but it's deliberate neglect.


I only included this pic because I liked that Stan looks to be doing the triple jump.

In the wake of his loss to his compatriot in Madrid, Bodo did a piece in which he posited that Wawa might be persuaded to give Fed a free ride at the Masters events in order to maintain the status quo of tennis Switzerland - a nation that, as he put it, was “punching well above its weight”. Why rock the boat?

No mention, funnily enough, was made of Stan’s upset of Fed at MC last year. Presumably, he had yet to incubate into one of tens of thousands of Swiss Minions, or worse, was a lone minion making his bid for freedom.

Not going to bother to debate the rights and wrongs of this – but today’s loss, at a Slam no less, will presumably only intensify Bodo’s assessment of Stan’s assumed minionship.


Federling. Soderer.

Call it what you want - it’s on people. Your grimace ain’t got nothing on me.

Only a Marin shaped chalk outline remained on court after Soder-Pop was done with him today. It wasn’t pleasant.

Last year wasn’t pleasant either – at least not from Rafa’s end.

I remain fundamentally unconvinced that it will be any different from the final last year.

I wouldn’t wish a 12-0 H2H on anyone. Not even Andy Roddick…oh wait….

Sod thrives on rhythm. Fed will likely give him none.

Though if Sod does find some perverse way of executing, and my own inner Swedish Minion has anything do with it, we may have a match.


Dunno quite what happened here.

But somewhere in between Andy Roddick going down in straights (“Today I got outplayed from the first ball”) and Nadal’s straight sets win over Hewitt, both Ferru and Ferrero got their racquet butts handed to them.

It took Ginepri a full five sets to close out JCF, a match in which he lead at one point by a set and 5-0; Melzer only required three, one of which was baked entirely in cornflour.

Robby hadn’t won a single clay court match coming into the event, and is, for now at least, the last American male standing. Only at Roland Garros.

But there’s no escaping, nor should we wish to escape, the reality that two of the hottest clay courters out there were bundled out of RG by two other players, not renowned for their prowess on clay or anywhere else.

That’s probably too harsh. Jurgen’s ranked #26 in the world after all.

Though I’ve yet to find anyone that can meaningfully convey the appeal of Jurgen with out using cliched terms like “dangerous” or “sleeper” - or indeed anyone who can convince me not to persist in referring to him as Jurgen-Schmergen.

Until such time I intend to carry on doing just that.



Disappointed. Much. Though kinda glad it was Nadia that took her down.

And if someone must “oust” Venus from the event (a word I abhor), then I’d rather it were Nadia too.

Whatever else you might think about her, Rezai’s clearly got that warrior queen thing going on – even when she’s being burnt at the stake. Not that that’s quite the way Nadia disposed of her.

I understand Boudica’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Mostly on account of the bling.

Let us leave it at this then. When you arrive at a Slam aspiring to overturn everyone's favourite poker table – you dress the part and arrive wielding more than just pleasant conversation and a copy of Henry James.

(Photos: Getty)

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