French Open X-Dish: Sharapova’s Doubles; American Men Redeemed
by Staff | May 28th, 2008, 10:13 pm
  • 23 Comments

B-level Americans Thriving at French Open

Wind replaced rain Wednesday at the French Open where the men played catch-up, with 38 matches completed on the day. Unlike last year, where nary an American male made it out of the first round, this year a number of lower-ranked Americans are surviving the early rounds.

On Wednesday the USTA French Open Wildcard Tournament winner Wayne Odesnik won again, defeating Korea’s Hyung-Taik Lee in four sets to move into the third round. Other American winners in first-round play were Robby Ginepri (d. countryman Donald Young in four sets), Bobby Reynolds (d. Thierry Ascione in four), and Mardy Fish (d. Agustin Calleri in four).

“When we come over here, we’re already, I think, one step slower than the other Europeans and other guys,” Ginepri said. “But to be honest, I’m enjoying the clay, and I’m actually a little sad that this is the last clay tournament of the year.”

Someone show Ginepri the ATP calendar — there are six claycourt events in July alone.

Four Top 10-seeded players were in action Wednesday, with (3) Novak Djokovic (d. Miguel Angel Lopez Jaen) and (10) Andy Murray (d. Jose Acasuso) both moving into the third round in straight sets, and (2) Rafael Nadal (d. Thomaz Bellucci) and (5) David Ferrer (d. Steve Darcis) both into the second round in straight sets.

“These were two difficult days, because as time goes by you get nervous and you can’t practice,” Nadal said of the rain delays. “So I probably lost the rhythm I acquired before this tournament. But I hope this won’t be a problem for the rest of the tournament.”

Three seeded players were upset on the day when (11) Tomas Berdych was outlasted in five sets by Frenchman Michael Llodra; (20) “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic was likewise beaten in five by Alejandro “If You Lead, I Will” Falla; and former No. 1 and (23) Juan Carlos Ferrero, who retired with injury against Marcos Daniel.

Highlights in all-unseeded play was former No. 1 Marat Safin topping Frenchman Jean-Rene Lisnard after dropping the first set; Fabrice “The Magician” Santoro beating Evgeny Korolev in straights in his final French Open; Juan Ignacio Chela defeating big-serving American John Isner in five in a match that spanned three days; and Gael “Force” Monfils straight-setting fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

Highlights of play on Thursday at Roland Garros are (1) Roger Federer vs. Spaniard Al Montanes, Fabrice “The Magician” Santoro vs. (5) David Ferrer, (7) James Blake vs. the lethal Latvian “The Importance of Being” Ernests Gulbis, (4) Nikolay Davydenko vs. former No. 1 Marat Safin, another former No. 1 in (25) Lleyton Hewitt vs. Mardy Fish, an upset special in Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez vs. (30) Dmitry Tursunov, and (9) Stan Wawrinka vs. Croat riser Marin Cilic.

Sharapova Double-Faults Way Into 2nd Round at French Open

Amidst windy conditions Wednesday at the French Open, world No. 1 Maria Sharapova looked like your average club player in delivering 17 double faults and somehow squeaking by fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina 6-1, 3-6, 8-6 to move into the second round. The willowy self-described “global brand” attributed the wind to sailing her serves long and spinning weak deliveries into the bottom of the net.

“Apart from eating and breathing the sand, it was great,” Sharapova said. “It’s dry and you’ve got sand blowing in your face. So you think it’s a hardcourt, but then you feel like you’re in a desert.”

Thank goodness, said Sharapova, that she was facing one of the C-level Russian scrubs and could get away with averaging more than one double fault per game.

“I don’t think I’d be able to get away with not playing and not serving that well with maybe a different opponent and somebody that has more experience, a top player,” Sharapova said. “But I’ll work on it, and it will be better.”

Other Top 10-seeded players into the second round Wednesday were (6) Anna Chakvetadze (d. Nuria Llagostera Vives in three), (7) Elena Dementieva (d. Vera Dushevina); and winning second-round matches were (2) Ana Ivanovic (d. Lucie Safarova), (5) Serena Williams (d. Mathilda Johansson), and (10) Patty Schnyder (d. Timea Bacsinszky in three).

Seeded upset victims were (9) Marion Bartoli, falling to Casey Dellacqua in three; (17) Shahar Peer, upended by Sam Stosur; and (20) Sybille Bammer, ousted by Aleksandra Wozniak.

“I’m just fed up,” Bartoli told reporters. “I’m going to turn off my mobile phone, turn off my TV set, and forget about Roland Garros. I’m going to try not to think about it. Go far away, very far away. Why not take a short break, some holidays? Because since the beginning of this year I’ve been playing and I felt tired and I thought, ‘Well, this is probably psychological,’ but it’s five months I’ve been feeling this, in this state, being very tired.”

Matches to look for Thursday at Roland Garros are (8) Venus Williams vs. Selima Sfar, (22) Amelie Mauresmo vs. Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, (1) Maria Sharapova vs. American Bethanie Mattek, (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. American Vania King, and (21) Maria Kirilenko vs. China’s Jie Zheng.

Notes:

I’M NOT A HEADCASE: Richard Gasquet, who withdrew from the French Open citing a bad knee, says don’t count him out: “What can I say except that it’s been a huge amount of bad luck for me,” Gasquet said. “I keep reading I’m having a hard time mentally, but it’s not true. I’m really in a good frame of mind. I’m motivated. Believe me. Big results are going to come, better than a semifinal in a Grand Slam.”

MISC.: No top-seeded woman at Roland Garros has ever lost a first-round match. Ever…Rafael Nadal is a perfect 22-0 on the red clay at Roland Garros. The Spaniard is also now 35-0 in clay best-of-five set matches…That’s 20 straight Grand Slam first-round wins for Maria Sharapova…Argentine qualifier Eduard Swank has won his last 20 matches…Until Wednesday, Paul-Henri Mathieu had never come back from a two-set hole…Five American men are still alive in Roland Garros after the first round of play. Much better than the goose egg they laid last year…Rain is expected to return Thursday and last into Friday…Andy Murray has won his last five sets without facing a single set point…Gustavo Kuerten is the last No. 1 men’s seed to win Roland Garros…Rafael Nadal has won 109 of his last 111 matches on clay…Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka are both former Roland Garros junior champs…Maria Sharapova served 17 double faults in her first-round win over Evgenyi Rodina…So how come Ashley Harkleroad posing for Playboy isn’t big news on the WTA Tour website? No matter how much we search, we can’t seem to find that story…Due to the Beijing Olympics on this year’s calendar, the weeks of July 7 and July 14 have four tournaments each, a first in ATP history according to the ATP’s Greg “The Remorseless Eating Machine” Sharko…Serena Williams on the possibility of appearing in Playboy: “I can’t say right now it’s in any thought of my mind to be in that mag. I do appreciate that mag. I think (Playboy owner) Hugh Hefner is a great businessman.”


Also Check Out:
Italy Stuns Russia, Czechs Choke to US in Fed Cup Semis
ATP Barcelona Blog — Day 2; Chilly Weather, Hot Spaniards
Nestor-Mirnyi Beat The Bryans For Second Straight French Open Doubles Title
It’s a Williams Sister World: 2011 Wimbledon Preview
Hingis-Kournikova Pair-some; WTA Dragging: Tennis-X Notes

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23 Comments for French Open X-Dish: Sharapova’s Doubles; American Men Redeemed

funches Says:

Good stuff.

I like the return of the nicknames.


josh Says:

too bad roddick couldnt play, he was playing well. someone post some harkleroad play boy pictures.


Von Says:

Kudos to the American men — I couldn’t be more pleased. It was tiring reading the statements dubbing them as ‘sissies’ on clay. Good job guys for proving the critics wrong!! Bring home a trophy. Now that would make for some great headlines.

josh:

Yes, too bad about Roddick. I’m disappointed, but there’s always next year.


TD (Tam) Says:

Von as usual I agree with you. I am happy to see the other young Americans finally step up and take charge on the clay even if it’s only in the second round, lol. We have start somewhere! It is a shame our Andy could not make it, he was playing so well on the clay until that unfortunate injury but I hope this means he will only come back stronger on the grass where he excels.

Speaking of injuries what do you make of Gasquet’s team doctor calling Roddick a liar about his injury? I was shocked by the sheet audacity of this stranger making such a statement. It sounds to me like a certain french boy is still smarting over his recent Davis Cup humiliation. ;)


Von Says:

TD:

“Von as usual I agree with you. I am happy to see the other young Americans finally step up and take charge on the clay even if it’s only in the second round, lol. We have start somewhere!”

Hey TD, And, about time too. Roddick has had to carry the weight of the flag for such a long time — it was becoming tiresome for me watching him do this. :) I’m sure if he made it to the FO he would have gotten past a few rounds.

“It sounds to me like a certain french boy is still smarting over his recent Davis Cup humiliation.”

I can’t imagine Roddick faking an injury in Rome, when the trophy was so attainable. We both know our Andy is not a cop out artist. Gasquet’s head needs some rewiring, and so does the team doctor’s. Sometimes it’s best to leave good enough alone. Unfortunately, Gasquet has not learnt to do so as yet. I’m sure Forget would love to have Roddick on his team. I suppose that’s why Lacoste has W(R)oddick as their shirt model and not Wichard. :)


aarontennis Says:

I want the term “shut down” used more to describe defeats! Go Paul Capdeville…my pic!


Fed-Rafa Says:

Doesnt bode well for Rafa – getting pushed by nobody players like belluzci and devilder! If the conditions stay the same (damp and humid), we might well be having a new FO champ the weekend after next.

What a sad state of things for the Americans. Reaching the 3rd round is being celebrated as if we have won the trophy. This is the toughest grandslam to win and the new generation of American players are guilty of not investing enough effort into making a solid run at Paris. Too bad the Bryan brothers cant cover Roddick/Blake’s behind like they do in all the away clay ties in the Davis Cup. At this point, it is not even about the French Open. It has been more than 5years since an American has won a major title. Hopefully Roddick can work something at Wimbledon/US open this year. His window is fast closing, with Djokovic in a very good position to take things over from Federer at Wimbledon (yet to), USopen (almost did it last year) and Ausopen (taken over this year).

Having said that, it is hard to believe that Roddick’s injury is anywhere as genuine as he claims it to be. The injury is just about bad enough to miss the French Open, yet it is not too bad to affect his grass court schedule. Sounds a little too convenient. It might not be as blatant as the French Open doc revealed, but there is a good chance that Roddick would have played at this Slam if it was Wimbledon and not French Open. Lets face it, Roddick is not even in the top 10 contenders at RG. At Wimbledon, he might be the 2nd favorite ahead of even nadal. (Unless Wimbledon has slowed their courts even more)

I guess being a quitter at one tournament to give yourself the best shot at another is ok with a lot of people. For me, personally I like players like Rafa who turn up at every opportunity they get to work on their weakness. Rafa has not won a hardcourt tournament since last years Indian Wells, yet he playes every Master Series on the faster courts and he has the rewards for being brave enough to do so. (Finals in miami and paris)Roddick would do well to learn that from Rafa. With the damp conditions in Paris now, he might have been able to make a good run.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

why would Arod fake an injury when he was close to winning Rome? is that the same as Federer faking mono?


jinyongfan Says:

Fed-Nad says,
I guess being a quitter at one tournament to give yourself the best shot at another is ok with a lot of people. For me, personally I like players like Rafa who turn up at every opportunity they get to work on their weakness. Rafa has not won a hardcourt tournament since last years Indian Wells, yet he playes every Master Series on the faster courts and he has the rewards for being brave enough to do so. (Finals in miami and paris)Roddick would do well to learn that from Rafa.

Well said, there is no doubt in my mind Rafa is one of the top if not the highest in the rank of his fighting spirit. Thanks for backing it up with your stat.


Von Says:

Fed-Rafa:

Roddick does not need to learn from anyone. If a player is injured, why push himself, and end up further injured? Is it better to show up at a tournament at 50 percent capacity, just to prove you’re an iron man, to whom? And, for the sake of argument, he pushes himself, just to quell the critics, who’ll always have something to criticize anyway, and further injures himself, then these same critics will say he’s stupid for so doing. I’d prefer it as a fan, that he doesn’t play until he’s 100 percent.

Btw, do you have anything good to say about the Americans? They’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t! Allow the milk of human kindness to run in your veins, and try to embrace ALL with compassion and a certain degree of fairness. Lavish on criticism and stingy on praise, does NOT a fair-minded person make.


jane Says:

Fed-Rafa,

Just to remind you, and I love Rafa, so no conspiracy in pointing this out, Rafa retired in the first (or maybe it was 2nd) round of the Cincinnati Masters Series last year because he was feeling dizzy. He was losing to Monaco at the time.

I agree with Von; Roddick did the right thing to skip the French if he is not well. Why risk further injury?

Let me repeat, I am a fan of Rafa’s and hope he does a four-peat this year, but I personally think he pushes himself too hard sometimes; it was tough watching him play Ferrer (and his other matches) at the USO last year because his knees were seriously injured. He’d've done well to skip Stuggart.

I hate to see players I like suffering physically & seriously on the court. Ironman is one thing, but players aren’t superhuman contrary to what they make it look like sometimes!


Von Says:

jane:

“I hate to see players I like suffering physically & seriously on the court. Ironman is one thing, but players aren’t superhuman contrary to what they make it look like sometimes!”

Ditto — my whole point. It’s akin to the supermom syndrome, and we all know what happens to those moms — burnout.

Roddick has remained in the top 10 for 5 years consistently, due to his smart scheduling, and knowing when to bow out in the event of an injury. Self love. We only have ONE body, and how well we take care of it will be the determinant factor over the long haul. What good can be derived when we make martyrs of ourselves for the heady, momentary praise, only to burn out in a handful of years, and then become toast for the rest of our lives? So many athletes have to retire before or at their peak due to injuries, and they have to live with those injuries day in and day out, ad infinitum.

I like Roddick very much, and I am disappointed that he had to withdraw from the FO, but I would prefer to see a healthy, fit Roddick at Wimby as opposed to a shell of himself at the FO, and if he’s fortunate enough to survive the FO, a probable 50 percent at Wimby.
__________
Fed-Rafa: A footnote to my previous post. You stated:

“With the damp conditions in Paris now, he might have been able to make a good run.”

The damp conditions do not favor Roddick. He needs hot, dry weather. Hamburg is a nightmare for him. He injured himself therein ’07 because of the damp, soggy conditions.

As for the French doc, he has enough to figure out with Gasquet at the present time instead of shifting his attention to Roddick. I’d be skeptical to see a doctor who does not factor rest for an injury into his treatment program. The Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm”, probably does not ring true for him. To give a diagnosis of being fit to play when when someone is not, is indeed doing harm. Why does he not send Gasquet to play withh the alleged cyst on his knee? This situation becomes even more ludicrous as I write this post.

From your posts it’s obvious you don’t like the American players — just leave it at that minus the semantics. Rise up out of the mire.


TD (Tam) Says:

Von and jane I completely agree. I don’t understand why some people insist on being so critical of Roddick even when he does the RIGHT thing! I read that he was very upset he had to withdraw from Roland Garros, granted it’s not his best surface but up until this point his attendance in grand slams has been a perfect record so I can understand why he would be upset, but it was also necessary that he rest his shoulder and heal it properly else he wind up injured wose than before or maybe having to retire much too young like Joachim Johansson.


Von Says:

TD:

“I don’t understand why some people insist on being so critical of Roddick even when he does the RIGHT thing!”

My question is, what do they want from this guy? I don’t think his critics know themselves. I suppose it’s just the sheer compulsion of having to find someone who can be beaten to death. Roddick’s cardinal sin was/is being born American — that’s the only logical answer I can find.

As I was listenieng to the announcers comment on Davydenko, in gist, that he’s the most unheraleded No. 4; I reflected upon Roddick when, up until July ’07, he was No. 3, and there was not this fuss about the top 3. The discussions centered around the top 2. Now we hear about the top 3. Jason Goodall mentioned in one of his commentaries last year, and he’s one of the primary guilty parties, that they don’t talk about Roddick as the No. 3 player, and he’s not given the respect he deserves. Goodall’s question to himself was, “Why is this so.” How stupid, ludicrous and utterly bereft of rhyme or reason. Maybe Roddick should just auction off his racquet, or better still give it away, and, maybe, just maybe, that will satisfy his critics. I wonder though, will this satisfy them?


Fed-Rafa Says:

Jane:

Rafa has had his fair share of injuries, but no one in their sane mind can accuse Rafa of faking an injury – why? because we all know he pushes himself that extra distance. I cannot say the same about roddick on clay. He seems to wimp out at the 1st sign of trouble. It is not based on just this 1year. It is based on the past 4years where Roddick has turned in a below 100% effort during the clay season. I dont have a problem with his commitment for the rest of the season. On clay, it will take only a blind fan of roddick to say he has given it his all.

Von:

One of the many reasons people watch is to see these extra-ordinary people push the physical limits of mortals like us. There is something to be said of a Rafa or Federer or Hewitt who give it their everything. If they give up, you could bet your last dollar that they have given it their all. Like I said above, not so with Roddick. And just like you say you cant always criticise Roddick, you dont have lick up everything that is Roddick. I hope you realise that too. It is not about his results, but that he always bails out on major tournaments during the clay season. He has been doing that the past 4 seasons.

The only times he has given it his all, on clay, is during the Davis cup, where he knows the bryans are almost unbeatable. That to me looks like a cop out when he is left by himself on a surface that does not suit his strengths. It may be good for Roddick’s career and his die-hard fanatics, but dont expect everyone to tow that line.


TD (Tam) Says:

Fed-Rafa, you let your hate color your logic. This is the first slam Roddick has missed since he turned pro. He also doesn’t “always” bail out of clay but he always gets INJURED on clay which necessitates him pulling out of other scheduled clay events. He plays more clay events than the other Americans. What is your problem?

Von, it looks like people like Fed-Rafa won’t be satisfied until players like Roddick are wiped off the face of the earth. How sad to live like that!


Von Says:

Fed-Rafa:

“And just like you say you cant always criticise Roddick, you dont have lick up everything that is Roddick. I hope you realise that too. It is not about his results, but that he always bails out on major tournaments during the clay season. He has been doing that the past 4 seasons.”

What would you like him to do if he is injured? He should continue to play for fear of critics such as yourself who just wait for these opportunities to lambaste him? He is a bit clumsy on clay — anyone can see that, and it’s his clutzy movement which causes him to become injured. If he’s been doing that for the past 4 seasons, doesn’t that say something to you? Do his injuries follow a pattern? Why would he pass on Rome when he was so close to winning the trophy — I’m positive he would have won.

“The only times he has given it his all, on clay, is during the Davis cup, where he knows the B(b)ryans (sic) are almost unbeatable.”

How could you surmise that this is Roddick’s thinking? Please tell me you’re kidding. Roddick has always had to deliver the FIRST win/rubber in DC. When the Bryans don’t win their match, viz: France V. USA, in April ’08, the Bryans lost. Roddick has been the one to win the 4th LIVE rubber; plus the MANY times Blake chokes. Now, please tell me who’s bailing out whom?


Von Says:

TD:

“Von, it looks like people like Fed-Rafa won’t be satisfied until players like Roddick are wiped off the face of the earth. How sad to live like that!”

To echo you, how sad. We’ll both be sad if, and when, Roddick stops playing, but there are those who would be happy. The best server in the game will be replaced by whom? We have to live with these aspersions cast on Roddick’s character — it’s called “Freedom of speech”.


Von Says:

Yes! Ginepri has advanced to the 4th round. He played a super match. I picked him to make it through to the QFs — I hope he makes it.

Too bad Hewitt couldn’t hold on. I suppose he didn’t hear me rooting for him; instead Ferrer won.

Glenn, your boy Wawrinka ran out of steam. Gonzo was too hot for him in the end.


jane Says:

I am happy for Gonzalez actually; when he’s on he’s so good. He’s also a really gracious guy.

Von, I’d've liked to see Hewitt advance too.


jane Says:

I put my comment re: Ginepri elsewhere, but this is a great run for him. Do you know if Higueras is still coaching him or if he’s found someone new? just curious.


Von Says:

jane:

I feel like Rona barrett here:

Anyway, from what I’ve heard from Gimelstob’s mouth, Robby told Higueras when he initially hooked up with Fed, that it would be OK with him if he wanted to stay with Fed permanently. Higueras, said No, he could manage both. However, there’s now an assistant coach who is with Robby, and Higueras is with Fed. I suppose Higueras was playing it safe initially, because his situation with Fed was not permanent. Robby is the one without a coach, at the FO, but it can be argued that the assistant coach is with him. Money/fame talks.


jane Says:

Thanks for the gossip! I can see the two colliding so it’s an interesting side story, that.

Top story: Djokovic v Murray Halloween Friday In Paris; Raonic, Ferrer Fighting For Final London Berth
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Rankings
ATP - Oct 27 WTA - Oct 27
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Tomas Berdych5 Ana Ivanovic
6 David Ferrer6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Andy Murray8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Na Li
10 Milos Raonic10 Angelique Kerber
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