Wednesday, June 2, 2010

French Open: Quarterfinal Report & Semifinal Previews

Unless you were a certain four-time French Open champion, it was not good to be a Grand Slam champion at the quarterfinals at Roland Garros this year.

The biggest upset of the round was Robin Soderling defeating defending champion Roger Federer ending the Swiss' streak of Grand semifinals at 23 matches. 2008 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic followed Federer losing to 22nd seed Jurgen Melzer in five sets after being up two sets! 12-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams went out to 7th seed Sam Stosur 6-8 in the third set.

Rafael Nadal was the only Grand Slam champion able to hold off his inspired opponent who pushed Nadal to two tiebreaks. Nadal still ended up winning in straight sets, but he had to work hard against 19th seed Nicolas Almagro. Other quarterfinal winners include 15th seed Tomas Berdych, 4th seed Jelena Jankovic, 17th seed Francesca Schiavone, and 5th seed Elena Dementieva. This mean there will be a first-time Grand Slam winner on the women's side and on the men's side if Nadal doesn't win.

Men's Semifinals

Robin Soderling [5] vs. Tomas Berdych [15]
Rafael Nadal [2] vs. Jurgen Melzer [22]

How very wrong was I in my predictions getting only Nadal correct? In any case, Nadal must be feeling a bit better about reclaiming this title especially consider the players he has left to face. En route to the finals, Nadal will not have faced anyone in the top 20. Melzer, reaching his first Grand Slam semifinals ever, should be no problem for Nadal especially with Melzer going through that blockbuster five-set match with Djokovic. It's a bit of a toss-up between Soderling and Berdych as both have played an inspired couple of rounds. Soderling has the edge though being in this spot before and having huge confidence after beating both Nadal and Federer here.

Prediction: It will be a re-match between Robin Soderling and Rafael Nadal for the finals. Please tennis gods, make this happen. I'll be rooting for Soderling so that Federer keeps his #1 ranking.

Women's Semifinals

Jelena Jankovic [4] vs. Samantha Stosur [7]
Elena Dementieva [5] vs. Francesca Schiavone [17]

I did slightly better here than in the men as I predicted that (a) neither Williams sister would make it this far, (b) Jankovic and Dementieva would get here, and (c) Dementieva would go up against an Italian. The most significant aspect of this foursome is that none of them are Grand Slam champions with only Jankovic and Dementieva to have managed to reach a Slam final before. On paper, both matches look to be very competitive. Jankovic leads Stosur 3-1 in H2H, but Stosur won their last meeting a couple months ago. Dementieva leads 6-4 with the Italian's last win over the Russian over three years ago.

Prediction: Experience will prevail to bring us a Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva final. I'll be happy for both, but really rooting for Dementieva.

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