Serena Survives While Djokovic Enjoys Easy Street at French Open
by Sean Randall | May 26th, 2009, 6:15 pm
  • 57 Comments

So is there anything write about after the first round of the French Open? Remarkably, the men’s draw has been rather tepid, whereas the women’s first round had some surprising intrigue and excitement.

Serena Williams was pushed to the very brink in three sets earlier today winning on her ninth match point against Klara Koukalova-Zakopolova. Serena’s sister, Venus, also went the distance as did Maria Sharapova. Even defending champ Ana Ivanovic felt the pinch when her opponent served for the first set and Caroline Wozniacki struggled while Amelie Mauresmo got bounced.

I know I don’t comment much on the women, but I’ll even admit they were the better attraction through the first few days of French. Hell, that Johansson-Diatchenko debacle was time capsule kind of stuff with Mathilde gagging EIGHT match points and many of them on double faults. Wow!

Although the women had – or arguably had – the drama the first round, the men’s field was not entirely devoid of suspense. On a quick glance, I count no fewer than 13 five-set matches already for the men, but unfortunately nearly all of them involved the lower ranked players.

And thanks to some very sweet tasting draws, I don’t see much in the way of competition in round two for the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick (yes, I included Roddick). That said, it’s hard to say who has looked the best thus far, maybe Dinara Safina? Even Nadal didn’t look great. And while Rafa’s rivals like Djokovic, who played just a set and a half today, had it easy, their competition was quite lackluster. But hopefully that should begin to change starting Friday when the seeds begin to collide, and I can’t wait.

Before then, there are some notable second round matches like Kiefer v. Ferrer, Almagro v. Gulbis, Del Potro v. Troicki, Chardy v. Bolelli, Acasuso v. Federer and probably the best of the pick, Tsonga v. Monaco. Plus Marat Safin is hanging around as is Juan Carlos Ferrero, and watch out for Fernando Gonzalez!

I also have to like the fact that my man Gael Monfils destroyed Bobby Reynolds today, though I’m not convinced that he’s anywhere close to being “out of the woods” when it comes to his knee. But I’ll take it. Allez!


Also Check Out:
Roger Federer Is Now Getting Streets In Germany Named After Him!
Roger Federer Enjoys First French Open Practice [Video]
Venus Williams Survives Tough Opener, Serena On Deck at French Open
ATP Finals Gala Raises Over $630K [Video]
Uncle Toni: Rafa’s Back Should Be Fine, But The Crowd Should Not Have Booed Him

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get Tennis-X news FREE in your inbox every day

57 Comments for Serena Survives While Djokovic Enjoys Easy Street at French Open

Von Says:

What happened to Djoko’s match, and why did he only play one and one-half sets? Did Lapenti retire? I had expected Djoko to win his match easily because lapenti is one who fizzles after the first set, and in 3 sets, Djoko’s the definite winner. However, I don’t think that’s too good for Djoko in the way of being match-grooved, but it’s good rest for the body, considering he mentioned he was mentally and physically tired at Madrid, or prior to Madrid. Now he has to hit the practice courts some more to make up for today.

We’ll know more on Monfils knee, but he’s playing a qualifier so he shouldn’t be pushed too much, except if his opponent is a clay-courter, then he’ll have his work cut out for him.


jane Says:

Von, Lapentti injured his ankle, which was already strapped coming into the match, late in the first set, which he lost 3-6. He tried to play on into the second set, though limping, but as soon as Djoko got the break to go up 3-1 in the second set, Lapentti called it a day and retired. I hope Djoko hit the practice courts right after as that’s not much of a warm up.


Kimmi Says:

Do people still think Serena can win this one? Gosh! She looked so heavy and unfit. The way she was out of position on a lot of balls, unbelievable. The other girl just not too experienced enough but the match was definitely there for the taking.

Sean I agree, a lot of drama on women tennis, quite enjoyed Serena though; her matches are always full of emotions.

I thought this was interesting from Safina.
“I guess I could serve a little bit better and hit the balls a little harder,” Safina told reporters

How harder can she hit the ball? I think right now, she is hitting the balls as harder as I have seen women do. Maybe she should concentrate more on mixing it up – slice, serve & volley etc but then this is WTA. Where is Justine Henin, for sure she knew how to play.


Skorocel Says:

Kimmi said: “I thought this was interesting from Safina.
“I guess I could serve a little bit better and hit the balls a little harder,” Safina told reporters

How harder can she hit the ball? I think right now, she is hitting the balls as harder as I have seen women do.”

————

Guess she wants to reach that “flawless power ball striking” phase :-) LOL!


jane Says:

Kimmi,

Who knows with Serena!? I mean it is quite amazing. i thought when her opponent broke her back in the 3rd today that it might go to a tiebreak, but Serena managed to break back again for the match. But it was touch and go. Serena’s movement was sub-par. Luckily she has the shots to make up for it and I think she still intimidates opponents who sometimes fold under her screaming and power. She’s begun other events looking quite shoddy and has gone on to win the whole dang thing so I don’t think one can write her off too quickly. We know that by now. Especially at the slams, where the Williams sisters often cash in big time – ca ching!


Von Says:

I’ve not seen any matches today, and can’t comment on Serena’s actual match play at the FO. However, it should be noted that she does up her level at the slams. But considering she’s hurting from her knee big time, I think that even Serena will not be able to pull off the unthinkable, and that is win the FO, but we can never count her out.

I don’t know if it’s me or Safina, but I don’t understand much of what she says. She needs to open her mouth and project her speech instead of keeping her mouth half-closed. At times, she appears to be mumbling, without much sound emanating. I’ve gotten turned off of her and her game due to those funny sounds she makes, for which I can’t find a word to describe.


Von Says:

Jankovic’s thought on a roof for the FO. I think all of the open air clay tourneys should have a roof, because clay takes a lot longer to dry out after thunderstorms, unlike hardcourts, which dry very quickly.

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/26052009/3/tennis-ace-jankovic-backs-french-open-roof-plan.html


Skorocel Says:

jane said: “Serena’s movement was sub-par.”

Agree. I don’t mean to insult her, but I can’t help myself – nowadays, she’s looking more like a sow (female bear, I mean) rather than a tigress which we saw in her peak years :-) I mean, a sow can be just as dangerous, even if it’s a bit slower :-) LOL!


jane Says:

Von, thanks for the wealth of links. I hope that fitness trainer is up with today’s methods. Muster was the “ironman” quite a long time ago. LOL.

———-

Re: the roof – I guess the problem with clay is that it absorbs water too and thus can even get muddy and stick to player’s shoes. Covers are one method, but one roof wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I wonder sometimes, though, about the drastic change in conditions once they put a roof over the court. For example, the grass a Wimbledon will play quite differently with a roof. But all in all it’s better than endless rain delays, and that roof at SW19 does look nice and bright.


zola Says:

I expected a tough match for Djoko today. Lapentti is a very strong player. But I think he twisted his ankle today and could not continue.

Kimmi,
I don’t think Serena has a chance here. I think she is still not a 100% . I think this isSafina’s year.

Skorocle
**How harder can she hit the ball? I think right now, she is hitting the balls as harder as I have seen women do.”***

Dinara said in her presser that her coach was mad at her at 5-0 and was telling her to hit harder.
In the previous tournaments she used to say that she was not able to hit the ball the way she does in her practice sessions. I think she is getting there now.


zola Says:

sorry Skorocel for my typo!

One more thing:

Apparently Karlovioc set a new open era record by shooting 55 aces during his match with Hewitt, but still lost that match? did anyone see that match?


sar Says:

Despite his improved physical condition, Djokovic isn’t giving away the secrets of his work with Phil-Gritsch.

“You can’t expect me to tell you that. Everybody has his own way,”
———————————

Yeah, good one.


Von Says:

sar: “Yeah, good one.” You like that, eh? At least he’s smart not to ‘kiss’ and tell. ha, ha. In his case, not to ‘train’ and tell.


Von Says:

jane: You’re welcome re the links. I thought you’d get a kick out of Djoko’s glib answer.

With respect to your comments on Serena’s sub-par level of play. I just watched her third set, and I gotta say, she played like a true champion, who was down but not out in that match. I think if it warms up she’ll play a lot better. She’s a Floridian and we’re spoilt by the warm weather. Anything below 68 degrees F, we freeze up and hibernate. That aside, I think she was cold/frozen (only 60 degrees in the sun), and got overwhelmed by the crowd’s partiality to her opponent. The French are exceptionally prejudiced towards Americans and are racists. I think this should motivate Serena and I hope she goes on a tear, reminding them of who and what she is. She’s a champion and she also needs to remind herself that she’s SERENA, a great champion, who won the AO playing rusty and with blisters. Go get ‘em champ, my money’s on yolu!.


NachoF Says:

I wonder why they decided Murray and Nadal play tomorrow and Federer does not… also, Nadal is not playing at center court?? whats going on/?


Kimo Says:

Sorry Von, but the French are definitely not racists.

I think they were against her because they usually side with underdogs and because Serena didn’t exactly endear herself to fans and other players by being her arrogant self.

She said: “We all know who the real no.1 is”.

Sure we do. It’s Safina. Get over it. I used to like Serena, but now she seems to be so full of herself.


Kimo Says:

NachoF:

The Roland Garros complex is the smallest of all grandslams. That’s why they start on Sunday and why sometimes when the schedule gets squeezed by rain delays, sometimes they move players around. Players understand that and they don’t usually complain (unless they’re called Williams).

The officials of the tournament must have thought that they can Squeeze Nadal’s match in. There probably wasn’t time for Roger’s.

Besides, Suzanne Lenglen stadium is still a big court.


Fedfan Says:

Serena’s biggest problem is movement (and of course attitude and arrogance). But she hits the ball so hard all the time, that very few women can keep up with that. If they move her around, she unravels quickly. And that is easiest to do on clay. Yes, she did win the French once – but this is her weakest surface.

And contrary to Serena’s unsporting comment, Safina IS No 1, the real one….. There’s no way serena can beat safina on this surface.


zola Says:

serena has been suffering from a knee injury for some time. That might affect her movement. she can certainly lose some weight and that might help her movement.
btw, I love serena’s FO outfit. Great colors.

Safina is much younger and seems to be more focused now that she is number one. I hope she can win the FO this year.

———
Tsonga appeared in his presser wearing a tie to celebrate his first ever win in Roland Garros!

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/interviews/2009-05-26/200905261243365418491.html


jane Says:

zola, i agree that Serena’s outfit was nice, and flattering to her fuller figure, with the black in the middle.

Von, I caught the second set and all of the third, and Serena was off and on, very patchy. She really imploded a bit in the second set, making quite a few errors and not chasing down the balls. But as you say, like a champion, in the third set she dictated more and found another gear. Yeah, and her knee would be a factor too.

That said. I do believe that if these two Williams girls just put in a little more time, maybe played a few more events each season, they’d be able to cruise more easily, even on clay. However, they are getting older, and once some of these younger, hungry WTA girls (Azarenka, Wozniacki, Lisicki, et al) start hitting their stride, I don’t know if the Williams sisters will be able to dominate slams as they have been. Thus, I think for them, the time is now.


Ryan Says:

“I wonder why they decided Murray and Nadal play tomorrow and Federer does not… also, Nadal is not playing at center court?? whats going on/?”

well the french people r known for their big time racism so its no surprise.Why didnt they put nadal on centre court n murray on suzanne. They hate nadal n wished that he lost this tournament but nadal is gonna kick some ass.He is motivated coz he wants the whole of france to kiss his backside for being so partisan and racist.


zola Says:

Ryan,

lol!


VVx Says:

I thought Serena played quite well but kept expecting her opponent to beat herself on the big points rather than aggressively trying to win them, which is probably due to lack of confidence having not won a claycourt match this season.

It does make me laugh when people criticise Serena’s physique and make like she is out of shape. The next time she is playing, take a look in the player’s booth at Oracene and Serena’s sisters. THAT is what she would look like if she wasn’t working out.

She is a big solid muscular girl with probably a lot lower body fat percentage than most of her rivals out there. She just got Oracene’s genes whereas Venus inherited Richard’s tall lean physique but both sisters are supreme athletes.

Serena played for two and a half hours today and looked like she could have played for five. She looks in great shape to me.


Roger-Rafa Says:

Despite his improved physical condition, Djokovic isn’t giving away the secrets of his work with Phil-Gritsch.

“You can’t expect me to tell you that. Everybody has his own way,”

****** Let’s just hope he is not doing something stupid like getting some protein shake. If he indeed, shows some improved physical fitness, there will be egg on Joker fans who claimed he had some “Physical Conditions” that would never let him be physically fit. So which is it guys – Protein Shake or just made excuses and feigned and made WTAesque drama? You will have to answer this question before we non-djokovic fans can make the right call and judge the “effort” that has gone into making this guy fit.

I will hold my judgement – he is on probation for atleast 2yrs….. One more injury in the middle of a match in the next 2yrs and I will put him in the bush league!


pkcourt Says:

Williams is not in shape she is carrying at least 20 more Lbs. since this time last year. If she keeps this up she will blow out a knee and will be sitting with the clan in the stands.


jane Says:

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I am really starting to feel a surge of hope for the WTA. Ivanovic played a fine, aggressive match today, Sharapova’s back and fighting like mad, the Williams sisters are still in there, Safina looked formidable again today, Jankovic played better her last match – and I haven’t even mentioned the up-and-comers that I mentioned above: Azarenka, Wozniacki, Lisicki. This is a good sign since the tour has been adjusting since Henin retired, the Serbian girls went off the rails, and Sharapova was out for 8 months. But now, I think, I hope, it’s coming back to form.


Kimo Says:

Are you guys watching Ouanna vs. Safin? This is a great match!!! Ouanna looks like a very promosing talent. He’s get a great serve, a powerful forehand and great hands at the net. What’s most impressive about him though is how he’s able to keep his emotion in check and not choke on big points (like Mauresmo). He doesn’t seem to mind being on the big stage.

A couple of more years under his belt and he can easily be in the top 10.


Kimo Says:

jane:

I agree with you. Things are indeed starting to look up for the WTA, but I won’t start celebrating until we see competitive matches in the semis and finals.

I haven’t watched women’s tennis seriously for almost two years now. It’s about time they started earning their pay.


I like tennis bullies Says:

Roland garros continues the french tradition of rigging cupcake draws for Federer in vain hope that he will defeat that dirty spaniard the racist french look down upon.


NachoF Says:

I dont know if its racism but it almost seemed like even in Madrid most people wanted Federer to win…


Ryan Says:

“I dont know if its racism but it almost seemed like even in Madrid most people wanted Federer to win…”

thats bull….in madrid the spanish fans did respect federer coz they gave standing ovation wen federer walked in but they still wanted nadal to win the match.


Ryan Says:

As for fed having cup cake draws, this time he is facing djokovic who is the most dangerous player after nadal on clay. They could have put murray in fed’s half but they didnt


Colin Says:

“They could have put Murray in Fed’s half”. No, Ryan, they couldn’t, because it’s a DRAW, and nobody is “put” anywhere. If you believe otherwise, the onus is on you to prove it. Evidence, man, evidence!


jane Says:

Fed’s got a pretty easy draw UNTIL Djoko – IF they both get there. Which I hope they do.


jane Says:

Come on SAFIN – Win already! :-) The French crowd IS RUDE. They are booing Safin and look at his effort! I mean, I know he’s playing a Frenchie but Safin deserves more respect; he’s a total champion.


Colin Says:

Von, after reading your remarks about Safina’s diction I went straight to YouTube and watched one of her interviews. I must say I could follow it fairly easily, and I have always been really bad at understanding people with foreign, or even local, accents. I agree she tends to mumble, but maybe it’s the nature of Russian. Maybe it’s a mumbly language! By the way, I think you said once you are an ex-Brit, or anyway lived here. You may remember there is a place in South Wales called The Mumbles!


jane Says:

Poor Safin. Kudos to the French player, who played a helluva match, but I want more Safin~~!!! : (


Guga76 Says:

Thanks Sean for writing, “and watch out for Fernando Gonzalez!” My favorite player is going to be 29 this year and still believes he can beat anyone but Federer or Nadal. I’d like to see him stay in the tourny for awhile – for he is so much fun to watch – even with that boring but effective backhand slice he got from Stefanki…


margot Says:

Was at work so could not see Murray’s match….thank God!!!!
Think French crowd was cheering for the underdog, they do that at Wimbles.
FYO Ryan, Black British football players encounter plenty of prejudice in Spain.


Dan Martin Says:

Murray got a pretty nice draw to the semis, but his clay court expertise is maybe a year or two away to be sure he will make it through. Maybe they should do the draw all the way down to where Nadal played the lowest ranked player in the 1st round and the winner of the 64th and 65th seeds in the second etc.


Kimmi Says:

Wow ! just watching Murray match and i can’t believe he came back on the 3rd set from 1-5 down. Unbelivable. At least it shows if he concentrates he can do it. Great come back, will never count him out. Well done.


Skorocel Says:

Ryan: “As for fed having cup cake draws, this time he is facing djokovic who is the most dangerous player after nadal on clay.”

Well, as you can see, it unfortunately isn’t enough to stop these people from complaining… I mean, since the Madrid tourney ended, everybody was literally counting every single minute till the FO draw will be released, asking him/herself only one question: Where the hell will Djokovic (who’s by mile the 2nd or, at the very least, 3rd best claycourter on the planet) land? But now that he’s ended in Fed’s half, they suddenly think of the Swiss’ draw as a walk in the park and are complaining ad nauseum… Unbelievable how quickly can the opinion of some people change…


Skorocel Says:

Btw, Kudos to Murray for turning that one around! Safin once again blew it…


Kimo Says:

Safin didn’t blow it. Ouanna is a helluva player.


Kimmi Says:

Federer gets Chatrier tomorrow. What’s up with the organizers? One would think federer, who gets easy draw here also gets lots of favors ! LOL


sar Says:

If he indeed, shows some improved physical fitness, there will be egg on Joker fans who claimed he had some “Physical Conditions” that would never let him be physically fit. So which is it guys – Protein Shake or just made excuses and feigned

Roger-Rafa
No one here ever said he couldn’t win tournaments. He has problems during certain heat conditions. McEnroe said during Djokovic’s match with Lapenti that Novak has problems with his diaphragm and that is causing a lot of his breathing issues. Maybe these issues get aggravated by extreme heat. I’m sure Gritsch knows about it and has seen his medical file. It’s good that Novak is not revealing his training techniques as that might give a clue to what his medical problem is. It’s not the public’s right to know a diagnosis. I believe he has some problem that will prevent him from winning much in the future and he will just carry on. Some people have knee problems, others have shoulder problems, he has an upper chest problem.


Kimo Says:

I just found this picture today:

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2009/01/30/rivals2.jpg

I dunno where or when it was taken (my guess is it was taken last year during the US hardcourt season), but can u believe how respectful they are of each other given what’s between them? And it’s not just respect, but there’s also a great deal of admiration.

Let’s face it folks, despite the animosity between Roger’s fans and Rafa’s, we have to realize that Roger wouldn’t be what he is to us if it wasn’t for Rafa, and vise versa. Rafa’s constant improvement, starting as a clay court specialist and then a winner of three different slams, all of that is driven by his desire to match Roger’s achievements. Roger’s struggles against him are tests that he has to endure in order for him to reach immortality.

What a picture.


zola Says:

Kimo,
You are right. That picture was from US Open 08. I think the Kids day or something like that.

In master cup 07 Roger beat Rafa really bad and I read that after the match they were playing tennis-soccer.

I think the players appreciate each other more than the fans do, because they know how much work and dedication is needed to be where they are. Vamos all of them!

and here are some more pics to continue on your nice post:

http://www.odt.co.nz/files/story/2008/05/FRANCE_TENNIS_FRENCH__Tull_Medium.JPG

http://www.balearesport.es/fotosnoticias/surfaces4.jpg

http://youngjournalism.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/2174314_nadal_federer_getty.jpg

http://bahamaderek.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/federer-nadal.jpg


jane Says:

“Roger’s struggles against him are tests that he has to endure in order for him to reach immortality.” Wow – you mean Roger could live forever, i.e., “reach immortality”, after struggling with Rafa? That’s something! LOL. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

zola – Rafa has a great smile. Same with at IW, Nadal and Djoko were golfing, do you remember? I agree – the players are much more friendly with and respectful of one another that their various fans are – and that goes for most of the players, I’d think. After all, these guys travel to and fro all year and have a lot of waiting around to do, so no doubt they “hang out” and chat together sometimes. I know Ljubicic and Johanson are best friends and live in the same building in Monte Carlo (read that in a recent article).


zola Says:

Jane,
yes, Rafa has a very nice smile. and what a good point. These guys spend more of their life together than their families!
I think you wrote about Rafa and Djoko playing Golf in IW. Also I remember that in 07 when Rafa won their final, Djoko took pictures from him in the ice pool. When Djoko won Rafa in Toronto, RAfa sent a Champagne to Djoko’s table in a restaurant where they were both dining. ALso he invited Djoko to a fundraiser he had with Iker Casias for Malaria.
Even in cases when players had rough times, like Rafa-Berdych or Murray-DelPotro, they are able to put it behind. things can be very different when it comes to some fans.


Ryan Says:

“Even in cases when players had rough times, like Rafa-Berdych or Murray-DelPotro, they are able to put it behind. things can be very different when it comes to some fans.”

I guess they are putting it behind so that they can use that energy to tune up their game instead of just hating on their opposition.But that being said in the end they realise that its just a game and not war like many of their fans make it out to be.


zola Says:

Ryan,
That’s right. To use the energy in a constructive way. I think at the fan level things can be very different. But it is a totally different story. People become fans for different reasons and some fans define themselves through their idols or their favorite teams. That’s why anything against the idol seems like a personal attack. Anyway, this will now open a can of worms. I am really happy to see the players so friendly and nice to each other.


Guga76 Says:

I am a fan of Roger, Rafa and Novak equally with each player having his own autonomy that earns my respect and awe. Sure, I may cheer for one over the other in a given circumstance, like wanting Roger to beat Rafa at the French and tie Pete’s record while doing so, or Rafa to beat Federer at Wimbledon in five sets (accomplished), or Djokovic to defy his haters and come out to win a US Open in the heat and humidity while enduring breathing problems, a strain in his back and taking out both the other guys to do it. If you want to call yourself a fan, you need to ask yourself if you want to place a limit on this status by only supporting a particular player. It’s my thinking that you’ll have a much longer and more fulfilling love affair with tennis if you decide to be a fan of the game, allowing yourself to delight in watching all the great ones who play it.


jane Says:

Guga76,

This is excellently put: “It’s my thinking that you’ll have a much longer and more fulfilling love affair with tennis if you decide to be a fan of the game, allowing yourself to delight in watching all the great ones who play it.”

I have “current” faves, my main fave being Djoko for the last year or two, but they change and evolve as the game does. I also love Murray and I often support other old faves. But all in all I really love tennis, and when Roger, Nadal, Djoko and Murray are retired, I’ll still be watching.


zola Says:

Guha76,
you are the “complete fan”!
but seriously, very nice thoughts. Again I think it depends on why people become fans in the first place. Some to enjoy the sport, some beacsue they like a certain type of game or personality and some to conceal their own weaknesses by attaching themselevs even virtually to a more powerful and successful being. That’s why somethimes you see some fans being “mini me”s of their idols and that’s when troubles start! Ohhhh….the different colors of “fanhood”!

Top story: Isner Upset (Literally) In Washington; Serena Returns With A Roar In Stanford, Azarenka-Venus Tonight
  • Recent Comments
Rankings
ATP - Jul 28 WTA - Jul 28
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Tomas Berdych5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
7 Milos Raonic7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Juan Martin Del Potro8 Angelique Kerber
9 Grigor Dimitrov9 Jelena Jankovic
10 Andy Murray10 Victoria Azarenka
More: Tennis T-Shirts | Tennis Shop | Live Tennis Scores | Headlines

Copyright © 2003-2014 Tennis-X.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an independently operated source of news and information and is not affiliated with any professional organizations.