Thursday, 3 June 2010

Roland Garros: Heads and Hearts


I love it when the bikers goggles come out. No prisoners, as they say.

Within the past week she’s beaten the undisputed best two players of the past decade. Now another former #1 and arguably the best defender in the game has succumbed to her charms.

A Slam final. Consider the possibilities. I’m sure most of you already have.

Having the slightest of difficulty, however, with the idea currently doing the rounds that she’s “unplayable” in this sort of form….other than that, she deserves all the success she’s getting for being able to execute under some very trying circumstances,...and it’s all good.

Both Serena and Venus can be, and very often are, unplayable. Roger and Rafa have been known to throw in the odd unplayable zinger en route to any one of their very many Slam victories – it’s not usually lost on any of us when they do. Big Rob, I’m sure most would agree, was nothing short of unplayable two nights back.

Sammy, however, is simply executing a wonderfully varied game-plan born of her very distinctive bag of tricks. No one in the women’s game has much experience of dealing with either the kick or pace she generates on serve, and to be honest, no one out there’s executing as well as her.

What she perhaps deserves more praise for is the way in which she seems to be closing out matches in moments she might previously have been relied upon to wilt. And for that I really do salute her.

Never underestimate the power of good execution. But it’s usually playable.


“…I just I don't know what happened, but I just you know, she was the better player.
I mean, she did what she had to do. You know, she played her game. I wasn't even 20% of my ability, so that shows. When we played in Indian Wells and I was, you know, on my game, I was playing aggressively, I returned well. I won in two easy sets.
Today I was just I wasn't like myself. I don't even know who that was on the court.”

That’s the look of a bored eight year old with their face pressed up against a steaming window pane anxious to get out and play. Or, as in this case, off court.

It’s not often I take her self berating, seemingly ungracious pressers that seriously. But I confess I didn’t know who that was either. And 20% is way too kind.

I had thought that with that win in IW, these performances were mostly behind us. A Slam Semi – with not an Henin or a Williams Sister in sight. That’s what you blew today.


She made a Slam final too. After playing only a set of tennis.

Franny played Sammy last year in round one of this very event. Now the two are what they call Slam Contenders.

My head says Sammy. My heart says Franny. Game, Set and Match Heart.


43 Slams without a single retirement. And suddenly she’s Medusa? Get real.

And whilst getting real, consider precisely whose interests would be served by her further tearing the calf muscles that were causing her “shooting pains” throughout the match.

Consider, also, whose interests would be served by her fighting her way to a Slam final (were that even possible) in which she’s either unable to give her all -- resulting in another one of those duff WTA finals -- or worse, forced to withdraw.

Still think she was wrong to retire when she did?

(Photos: AFP/Getty)

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