World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won Monday at Roland Garros, but No. 3 seed Roger Federer stole the show with his 233rd Grand Slam match win, tying the record of Jimmy Connors. Federer defeated German Tobias Kamke 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.
“I’m very happy, because Jimmy Connors was a huge champion and still is, so it’s a great pleasure,” Federer said. “Jimmy is obviously one of the greats of all time, and was around for 20 years. This is my 13th or 14th French Open as well. It all started back in 1999 against [Pat] Rafter and I have hardly missed any Grand Slams.”
Meanwhile Djokovic opened his campaign for a piece of his own history, a potential fourth consecutive Grand Slam win, with a straight-set win over Italian Potito Starace.
“Pressure is always present, and the way I look at it, it’s a privilege and it’s a challenge,” Djokovic said. “So you need to try to understand and learn how to deal with it, and if you feel pressure, that means that you’re doing something that is right.”
Other Top 10 winners on the day were No. 7 Tomas Berdych and No. 10 John Isner.
On the upset tip were Frenchman Florent Serra topping No. 15 Feliciano Lopez when F-Lo retired in the first set with a left oblique muscle injury, and Belgian riser David Goffin burying No. 23 Radek “The Worm” Stepanek in five sets.
In other seeded action No. 11 Gilles Simon rebounded from a first-set loss to defeat American Ryan Harrison, No. 28 Viktor Troicki outlasted Thomaz Bellucci in five, and No. 31 Kevin “Mr.” Anderson saved four match points to defeat Portugal’s Rui Machado 11-9 in the fifth.
Among notable all-unseeded action, French net-rushing veteran Michael Llodra topped Spanish dirtballer Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez in four, French veteran Arnaud Clement beat Alex Bogomolov Jr. when the Russian retired with cramps in the fifth set, and American comeback story Brian Baker defeated Xavier “X-Man” Malisse in straight sets.
“I could not move my legs. You don’t get a medical timeout for cramps,” Bogomolov said. “My whole leg was straight. I couldn’t bend it. I couldn’t walk. I didn’t want to risk a potential ligament damage or something. And you can’t get a trainer for that.”
Matches to watch for Tuesday at Roland Garros include (2) Rafael Nadal vs. Simone Bolelli, (4) Andy Murray vs. Tatsuma Ito, (8) Janko Tipsarevic vs. Sam Querrey, former world No. 2 Tommy Haas to finish leading Filippo Volandri two sets to one and 4-2, (27) Mikhail Youzhny vs. the sun-setting American James Blake, U.S. car crash Donald Young vs. Grigor Dimitrov, and the all-veteran Juan Ignacio Chela vs. Marcos Baghdatis battle.
On the women’s side Tuesday there was excitement in the American media that U.S. women completed a 10-0 win-loss record. Call us when someone besides a Williams sister reaches the quarterfinals.
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka received a scare during a sloppy performance against Italian Alberta Brianti, eventually triumphing 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2.
“Bad days happen,” said Azarenka, who committed 60 unforced errors during the match. “Unfortunately today I had way more mistakes than I usually do, but it happens sometimes. The first match, they’re not easy. But in the end of the day I still won the match, I manage to go through those 60 mistakes and still win the match. I think that’s pretty good statistics.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska bageling Bojana Jovanovski, No. 7 Li Na losing three games to Sorana Cirstea, and No. 8 Marion Bartoli defeating Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova.
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands turned in the largest upset of the day, topping No. 12 Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3. Mattek-Sands was her illustrious self in her 2012 Roland Garros debut, dressed in an ensemble including black knee-high socks, a navy spotted skirt, black shorts and a green vest.
“It really shows that some of the Americans are coming through, playing tough, grinding it out here on the clay,” Mattek-Sands said of the American women’s resurgence. “And it’s awesome.”
Other upset victims were No. 17 Roberta Vinci losing to Sofia Arvidsson in three, American qualifier Lauren Davis pounding No. 30 Mona Barthel 1-and-1, and Russian Nina Bratchikova rebounding from a first-set bagel to beat No. 32 Monica Niculescu 0-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Women’s highlights Tuesday are (14) Francesca Schiavone vs. the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm, (5) Serena Williams vs. Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, (4) Petra Kvitova vs. Aussie Ashleigh Barty, (2) Maria Sharapova vs. Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, (9) Caroline Wozniacki vs. veteran Eleni Daniilidou, and (28) Shuai Peng vs. upset-maker Tamira Paszek.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
S.A. DAVIS CUP BROKE-ASS BROKE – How broke is Tennis South Africa (TSA), the country’s tennis federation? So broke that they are giving up on hosting home-field advantage for their September Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie with Canada. TSA is citing “current economic conditions” for its inability to organize the tie on home ground. Canada will now have the homecountry advantage for the tie, but at the same time now South Africa’s No. 1 player, Kevin Anderson, who is pretty much U.S. based, may play since the date is around the US Open.
TENNIS HALL OF CRIMINALS – The Tennis Hall of Fame is getting a lot of heat since failing to act on numerous accusations of South African inductee Bob Hewitt sexually abusing underage girls he was coaching and working with over an almost 20-year period. Roughly a dozen women on three continents came forward to say Hewitt abused them, and the Hall of Fame said they would investigate — before doing nothing. The Hall of Fame council/representatives have not answered any inquiries from the alleged victims, and according to the Boston Globe have now announced they are dropping their inquiry into Hewitt altogether, sweeping it tidily under the rug. “We’re going to be diligent about it and see what we can discover,” said Tony Trabert, the hall’s president at the time, nine months ago, but apparently the Hall of Fame has done nothing but wish it away. Hall of Fame Executive Director Mark Stenning told the Globe that the hall scrapped the investigation in favor of drafting a policy to address similar issues in the future. Hall of Fame President and former player Stan Smith would not comment to the Globe, but Smith’s former doubles partner Bob Lutz was not so quiet on the topic, stating, “The whole thing is sickening. Reggie Bush lost the Heisman Trophy for much less than Hewitt is accused of doing as a player. Hewitt should be kicked out of the hall.” The Boston Globe in an editorial summed it up: “The allegations of sexual misconduct against former tennis star Bob Hewitt have echoed across the sport since they were first reported by the Globe’s Bob Hohler last year — everywhere, that is, except at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Hewitt, the South African doubles legend, remains enshrined in the hall, whose leaders are seriously damaging their organization’s credibility by failing to take the accusations more seriously…If the organization had wanted to make a principled stand that off-court behavior doesn’t count, or start a philosophical colloquy on the issue, it could have done so when the news was reported. But promising an investigation and then not delivering one is inexcusable.”
Have American women really gone 10-0 thus far at the French Open? Or is it a dream? In 2003 11 reached the 2nd RD. In 1991 13 made it out of the 1st RD… Roger Federer is now the only player with 50+ wins at all four Grand Slams. Federer has not lost first round at a Grand Slam since 2003 French Open to Luis Horna…Victoria Azarenka avoided becoming the first No. 1-seeded women to lose first round at a Slam since Martina Hingis lost to Virginia Ruano Pascual at 2001 Wimbledon. The Belarussian was down 7-6 4-0 and was twice two points from trailing 5-0…Novak Djokovic is six wins from a “Djoker Slam”…Serena Williams has won 17 straight matches, and 17 straight on clay…Roger Federer has tied Jimmy Connors with 233 career Grand Slam match wins…Serena Williams has never lost first round at a Slam (46-0)…Novak Djokovic is undefeated in his new UNIQLO gear…11 of the 40 (or 27%) men playing Tuesday have never won a match at the French Open…Rafael Nadal is bidding for his 150th career Slam match win…Roger Federer has won his last 48 matches against German foes…Rafael Nadal’s opponent, Simone Bolelli, is a putrid 1-27 career against Top 10 players…Maria Sharapova has reached the finals in 5 of 7 events this year…Petra Kvitova is the only Top 10 player yet to reach a final this season…After being the top seed at the Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki is now ranked No. 9… 2011 finalist Francesa Schiavone will have to reach the fourth round to stay in the Top 20…Kimiko Date-Krumm is 41, Ash Barty is 16…Alex Bogomolov, who’s been a bust since switching his nationality to Russian from American, retired down match point in the fifth set because of cramps. Huh?…American ships passing in the night: American comeback story Brian Baker has won 26 of his last 29 matches while Andy Roddick has won just one of his last 10 sets….USA Today reports Mardy Fish missed the spring and the French Open dealing with a heart issue he feared would kill him…Both Frank Dancevic and Feliciano Lopez retired early in their matches today after not winning a game, but hey, then earned about $22K in first round prize money. Cool…American Brian Baker’s first-round win in Nice was his first tour-level win in nearly seven years, since beating Gaston Gaudio at the 2005 US Open…Kim Clijsters says she will retire…again…following the US Open. Clijsters, who will miss the French with injury, came out of retirement in 2009 at age 28, winning three Grand Slam titles since then…Robin Soderling’s bout with mono, which has kept him off the tour since July 2011, will keep him out of the 2012 French Open, Wimbledon and Olympics. “I feel all right as long as I don’t put too much stress on my body with heavy training,” the Swede told the AP. “But I learned early on to not go back too quickly and I don’t want another big setback.”…Maria Sharapova on Victoria Azarenka’s bitching about having to play injured or take rankings “zero pointers” for missing big WTA events: “She is probably injured more than any other player at No. 1. Last year she had more retirements (five) than anyone but played a full schedule. After two days you would see her practicing. It’s tough to know what her state is and what she is feeling. If I’m injured — however big or small the fine is — health is the most important thing. You pay the fine or take the zero points.”…The WTA Tour is debuting a “Challenger Series,” like the ATP Challenger series, with total prize money of $125,000 and 160 ranking points for the champion. The series will debut in Taipei in October…Roger Federer says he doesn’t like the ITF’s new rule that you must participate in Davis Cup four times between the Olympics to become eligible for Olympic participation, and that no one is going to tell him what to do: “I disagree with this completely. I was in the room when the ITF presented this to us and I was not asked about it before the decision was made. They might as well have just sent us a letter. The ITF makes it seem as if playing in the Davis Cup is the only place in tennis where you represent your country. That isn’t right at all. They are forcing people to play, almost, and that is not a good vibe…I will have to see what happens. I am focused on this year and I will make sure that whatever schedule I have for next year best suits me.”..24-year-old Bulgarian Dimitar Kutrovsky has been banned for two years after testing positive for methylhexaneamine in February at the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif. Kutrovsky claims it got into his system when he took the supplement “Jack’d.” Dumbass…Maria Sharapova has a career perfect record in claycourt finals…Robin Soderling is having a baby later this year.
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