The thrill ride of the 2011 French Open continued on Sunday. There were no major surprises or upsets, we did have some more drama.
First though, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continue to play about as well as anyone this tournament. Faced with a very tough draw, Djokovic has been hardly tested. Today, the 24-year-old easily knocked out Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Gasquet had been playing some good tennis of late but on the court it was a mismatch.
“It’s never easy and I didn’t expect it to be easy, that’s for sure,” said Djokovic. “Maybe the score line says differently, but I had to work. The first two sets it was only one break that decided it. We were both winning our service games quite comfortably. Each set I played one really good return service game and that was enough.
“I think I’m playing really well at the moment and today I increased the level from the last match, which makes me even happier. I just want to maintain this level.”
Djokovic has now won 43 straight matches dating back to the Davis Cup last year. And this season he’s 41-0, and really, he’s been better than that if that’s possible.
Strictly by the numbers, Federer, however, has looked better. Unlike Novak, Roger hasn’t lost a set and today he was handed the familiar task of wiping out Stan Wawrinka, which he did. Why they continue to play these matches is baffling because once again Stan had little to offer losing 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
Wawrinka did go up a break in the third but naturally couldn’t maintain it. Stan actually has a decent game and is good on clay but Federer is like his kryptonite.
Playing in his record 28th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal, next for Federer will be the winner of the Gael Monfils and David Ferrer. The two speedsters had their match suspended with Monfils up 2-1 in sets but down 2-0 in the fourth. The Frenchman also injured his ankle just before the darkness halted the contest.
With the carryover I’m going to guess Ferrer comes back to take the match. Monfils expends a lot of energy and after today’s burn I’m not sure he’ll have enough tomorrow.
As for Djokovic, his opponent Tuesday will be Fabio Fognini who saved 5 matchpoints in a controversial 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 11-9 victory over Albert Montanes. Late in the fifth Fognini began to cramp for which he inexplicably received treatment for mid-game.
Under rules, players must wait until a changeover or set completion to receive treatment for cramping but Fognini got his during the 14th game just two points from losing the match down 6-7.
The French Open trainer came out and determined that Fognini’s injury wasn’t cramps but something else, and treated the Italian. But watching the match and listening to the commentators, it was clearly cramps. The ATP website even acknowledges as that!
After the rub down on his leg, Fognini still could hardly move but against the choking Montanes he really didn’t need to.
Fabio, when not foot faulting, ripped any ball close to him and eventually the nerves got the best of Montanes who caved in the end after almost four-and-a-half hours.
With a first-time quarterfinal on the line it was fascinating to see how mental both guys were getting. That said, with Fognini in physical distress Montanes has to win that match. But didn’t.
And regarding the injury, Fognini should never have been allowed treatment for cramps and instead should have been told to play on. We all saw it as cramping.
If he really is injured with a muscle strain then Novak’s going to tear him apart on Tuesday, should he even play.
Looking at tomorrow, Rafael Nadal should have his way with Ivan Ljubicic and if his ankle is healthy I expect Andy Murray to take care of Viktor Troicki. If Andy’s still hobbled the Serb will do what Berrer should have done. Troicki’s a good player and I don’t think Murray can beat him if he’s not near 100%.
Also, in maybe the best match of the day Gilles Simon and Robin Soderling collide. Simon’s played better than the Swede this week but I like Robin to overpower Gilles. And I think the run for Alejandro Falla ends to Juan Ignacio Chela who might find himself in the semifinals on Friday if things break right.
For the women, defending champion Francesca Schiavone and former champion Sveta Kuznetova continue to be the class of the top half. Tomorrow Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are back in action. I expect those four to be in the semifinals and right now I’m thinking a Schiavone repeat may be in the cards.
Matches are on the Tennis Channel with ESPN back on in the afternoon.
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
Na Li (CHN) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)
Gilles Simon (FRA) v. Robin Soderling (SWE)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
Alejandro Falla (COL) v. Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG)
Not Before:12:30 PM
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Gael Monfils (FRA) To Finish 4-6 6-2 5-7 2-0
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Andrea Petkovic (GER) v. Maria Kirilenko (RUS)
Also Check Out:
Federer Gets First Clay Win; Djokovic Debuts in Serbia
Federer Wins, Monfils Darkness Controversy at French Open
Americans Blake, Fish Swim to Forefront at ATP Estoril
Roddick Grinds, Monfils Folds at French Open
Djokovic Faces 18-Year-old Krajinovic; Federer Holds Court in Estoril