Well that turned out to be quite anti-climactic. The match we’ve been waiting for all week finally began but unfortunately didn’t finish. Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro played about 100 minutes of their much-hyped French Open battle before the match was suspended because of darkness at 6-3, 3-6 with the Serb winning the first set.
The showdown was moved to Suzanne Lenglen from Chatrier because every match schedule on the center court went the distance.
Despite the delay and the court change, it was a joy to watch Djokovic and Del Potro slug it out from the baseline. Early on it looked like a mismatch in favor of the Serb who was just throwing too much at Delpo. But credit to the Argentine who mixed things up a bit more in the second with success and slammed home some timely aces.
With the match now rescheduled for 1pm tomorrow, the battle effectively becomes best-of-3, and that gives a slight edge to Del Potro who physically probably cannot keep up with Djokovic over five sets. And if Delpo can keep hammering his serve and putting pressure on Novak he’s got a chance tomorrow. Still, I like Novak to get through but it’s going to be a little trickier, and often it’s strange things like this – a suspended match – that ends great streaks or sporting runs!
As for the matches that were completed, you have to tip your hat to Roger Federer who simply routed Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
On a very raw, cool day, Federer had everything going especially his serve against a lethargic Tipsarevic. Shades of the old Federer perhaps?
“They were tricky conditions, the wind was moving the clouds around, there was a chance of rain so it was good not to spend too much time on court,” said Federer. “I served well to keep me out of trouble and from the baseline I was mixing it up well. It was good to have another early finish which is nice.”
If Federer plays like that (or plays my opponents like that), he’ll be in good shape.
Next up for Roger is his countryman Stan Wawrinka who stole one from JW Tsonga. Tsonga was in full control up two sets to none but then things started to slip in the third when Wawrinka grew the stronger player. Once the Swiss won the third set breaker you had the sense Tsonga was done. In the end, Wawrinka pulled the comeback victory to stun Chatrier 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“He started very physically, but the turning point was the minibreak I got in the tiebreak,” Wawrinka said. “He then started taking the ball a little late and that allowed me to impose my shots.
“Against Roger, I will have to be on the max, but my game is in place.”
Oh boy, not another Federer-Wawrinka snoozer…
French fans didn’t leave entirely disappointed. Gael Monfils crushed Steve Darcis and Richard Gasquet shook off the nerves to beat Thomas Bellucci 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Marion Bartoli also dashed the hopes of Julia Gorgeous Goerges.
Other winners were David Ferrer who destroyed Sergiy Stakhovsky, Albert Montanes and the Fabulous One, Fabio Fognini.
As for the ladies, the craziness continued with Caroline Wozniacki getting dumped by Daniela Hantuchova. Despite the loss Wozniacki will hang on to her No. 1 ranking. Last year’s finalist Sam Stosur was also a loser to Gisella Dulko.
Looking at tomorrow, I expect Rafael Nadal to finally bring his “A” game against qualifier Antonio Veic and the other favorites should win as well. I give Fish a chance against Simon but I’ll take the Frenchman pull it out. And Verdasco is beatable if Ljubicic is on song.
Tennis Channel has early TV coverage before NBC takes over at noon ET.
SATURDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
Roberta Vinci (ITA) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Antonio Veic (CRO)
Mardy Fish (USA) v. Gilles Simon (FRA)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) v. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
Na Li (CHN) v. Sorana Cirstea (ROU)
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Michael Berrer (GER)
Not Before:1:00 PM
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB) To Finish 3-6 6-3
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) v. Robin Soderling (SWE)
Court 1 11:00 AM Start Time
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) v. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Andrea Petkovic (GER) v. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS)
Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v. Arantxa Rus (NED)
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