PARIS — Dinara Safina wore the face of a woman who had just watched her home burn down. And she had forgotten to insure it. Or maybe she let the kids play with matches. continue reading »
PARIS — A shotmaking frenzy! What else could you call the two firefights — aka semifinals — that lit up Roland Garros Saturday, leaving Fernando Gonzalez and Juan Martin Del Potro biting the swirling salmon-toned dust. continue reading »
Up against Serena again, in the quarters, Koozy seemed to be staging a mournful reprise. She had served to beat Serena in Melbourne, leading, 7-5, 5-3, I remember unkindly thinking that she wouldn’t make it – and she didn’t, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.
Then there were Mats Wilander, the champ in 1982, 1985 and 1988, runnerup in 1983 and 1986, and Mikael Pernfors, runnerup in 1986, Stefan Edberg, runnerup in 1989, Magnus Norman runnerup in 2000. Plus difficult characters like Anders Jarryd, North Pole Nystrom, Jonas Bjorkman, Magnus Larsson.
Schemes and theories were set forth with a lot of advice and hope. The Federerians outnumber all other player-followers, and they were suffering.
So what is the answer to the question? Nothing. Nothing, as it turns out, courtesy of the hardly known Swede, Robin Soderling, Roger doesn’t have to beat Nadal – but this is no time for the relieved Federerians to relax. Roger still has to beat three other guys, and that may not be within his reach. continue reading »
That was a dazed Rafa Nada at 5:54 Sunday afternoon as he blew a volley after three and a half hours of play and his last chance to stay unbeaten in Paris and win a fifth successive French Open.
The explosion you heard from the direction of Roland Garros was Rafa going up in smoke, a colossal victim. The clay court seemed to shake.
Pink was his dazzling shirt color, with bright yellow headband and wrist bands for the European season, but I doubt he’ll wear them again. Mournful memories of the 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) blind-siding by Robin Soderling, a stranger to major fourth rounds until this time. It was the first time Rafa had even lost a set in Paris since the 2007 final against Roger Federer. He has never been extended to five sets in his streak of 31 matches here. continue reading »
These were some of the questions raised Friday as the multitude of 15,000 booed and whistled their disapproval of a new kid on the block named Michelle Larcher de Brito. The French are first-class whistlers, and when they chirp it can be cutting. So sharp that it brought tears to Michelle’s 16-year-old face. The locals didn’t care for her shrieking throughout a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, loss to France’s Aravane Rezai. Or the kid’s brushing off the traditional congratulatory handclasp with a passing-by touch of the victor’s outstretched hand.
All right, am I going overboard after one match — Wednesday’s thriller, an unexpected narrow victory over another heavy artillery babe from Russia, No. 11 Nadia Petrova, 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 in 2:11. Possibly, but Maria’s combative nature and baseline blasts against tough opposition made this a sensational match that rocked the French Open’s Lenglen Court. She lagged 2-4 in the 3rd, had to duck 2 break points in a harrowing 4 deuce game to keep Petrova from serving for it at 5-4.
Sounds like lallapalooza, and that’s what Zakopalova presented us with on the third day of the French Open — a lallapalooza of a match that almost swept Serena the Great out of Paris before she’d unpacked her luggage. I’m talking about Klara Zakopalova, a mite out of Prague ranked No. 100 who could probably fit into one of Ms. Williams’ handbags. Appropriately they collided on the Suzanne Lenglen Court, named for the unbeatable French diva of the 1920s, who really turned women on to tennis.
Suzanne would have loved this enthralling 3-set tussle as much as the 8000 onlookers in her playground. Fiercely battling from the baseline, lengthening points with dashing saves, they often brought admiring gasps from the bundled-up witnesses late in a day that featured rain and wind as well as touches of March, May, July and November.