Thursday, June 2, 2011

French Open: Quarterfinal Report

For the first time since 2006 at Roland Garros, the top four men's seed make it to the semifinals at a Grand Slam event giving us mouth-watering match-ups that is a tennis fans' dreams come true. Other than Novak Djokovic, who moved into this stage without having to play in the quarterfinals when his opponent had to withdraw with injury, the other three were pushed, but not hard enough.

Top seed Rafael Nadal met up with Robin Soderling, the only player to defeat him at this event. Nadal broke early in each three sets with Soderling only able to put up a bit of a fight in the first and third. Roger Federer had to deal with windy weather and a partisan crowd as he faced Gael Monfils, but though the Frenchman fought valiantly in the third set, it was another straight sets win for the Swiss. He's the only player left in the draw to not have lost a single set. Finally, Andy Murray fought off a determined Juan Ignacio Chela in the first two sets and was rewarded with an easier third set. His injured ankle seems to be doing just fine.

Semifinal Preview
Rafael Nadal [1] vs. Andy Murray [4]
Novak DJokovic [2] vs. Roger Federer [3]

They all have something to play for--Nadal to reassert his clay dominance, Djokovic to get that elusive #1 ranking, Federer to comeback strong, Murray to win his first slam title--which makes it all the more interesting. Based on performance this year, it's hard to see anything but a Nadal- Djokovic final. There's a chance that Federer, with all of his experience, could beat DJokovic to end his unbeaten run this year especially with all of the pressure the Serbian must be feeling. I'll definitely be rooting for Federer all the way!

Just... crazy. That's what I have to say about the women's draw. And yet as crazy as it has been the past two weeks, once the dust settles, the semifinalists aren't so shocking. I mean all four have reached Grand Slam finals and two are major champions. In fact the lowest ranked player is seeded 11th, which seems pretty formful if you ask me.

That 11th seed is also the only French player left in the draw in both the men's and the women's. Marion Bartoli reached her first French Open semifinals by taking out former Franch Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova who just couldn't handle Bartoli and the crazy weather. Defending champion Francesca Schiavone dug real deep to come back from a set and a break deficit to win the last two sets 7-5 against Russian youngster Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Na Li and Maria Sharapova both had far easier straight-set wins against 4th seed Victoria Azarenka and 15th seed Andrea Petkovic respectively, which was shocking since they both historically haven't done that well on clay and the players they beat were expected to put up more of a fight than they did.

Semifinal Preview
Francesca Schiavone [5] vs. Marion Bartoli [11]
Na Li [6] vs. Maria Sharapova [7]

Even though I didn't predict ANY of these women to reach this point of the tournament, mad props to all of them for doing so. Other than Schiavone, it's the first semifinals on Roland Garros clay for them and it's been a real fight to get here. Who will win? I WISH I HAD EVEN AN INKLING, but I really don't. Any of these four can win the title. I'd probably give a slight edge to Schiavone and Sharapova since they have already won a slam. In Sharapova's case, if she wins this, she gets a career Slam. I'm personally hoping for a Schiavone-Li final since I'd be ecstatic either way.

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