Virginie Razzano pulled a shocker for the ages Tuesday at the French Open. The 29-year-old scored the biggest win of her career upsetting consensus tournament pick Serena Williams 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.
The loss marked Serena’s earliest exit ever at a Grand Slam tournament – she had never, ever lost in 46 previous Slam first round matches. And it was even more head-scratching when you consider the roll Serena entered with 17 straight wins on the clay.
But you have to feel good for Razzano who could have folded multiple times and endured some questionable hindrance calls, especially one in the epic 20+ minute last game during which she was cramping. A year ago she went through the pain of losing her fiancee and coach, Stephane, to a brain tumor. In his honor she played and lost an emotional first round match in Paris. Now, the former Top 20 Frenchwoman, rose up in her return to slay the hottest player in women’s tennis. What an incredible win!
“It was happiness, pure happiness,” an elated Razzano said. “It’s the most beautiful victory of my whole career, especially on Court Philippe Chatrier in front of the whole crowd.”
Razzano credited hours of watching film on Serena giving her the tools and path to victory.
“I believe I prepared myself well,” she said. “I’ve only played a few matches lately, but I practiced a lot, spent a lot of time on court, and prepared physically also. I watched videos on Google and YouTube two days ago – I watched her matches in Rome. You need all this preparation.
“When you play a player like her, you can’t play without preparing yourself.”
However it looked bleak late in the second set. With a set in the bag Williams appeared to have an insurmountably 5-1 lead in the second set breaker. And that’s when things completely went off the rails as Razzano ran off six straight points to steal the breaker, then won the first five games of the third set to hang on 6-3.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s life,” Serena said. “Things could be a lot worse. I haven’t had the easiest past six months. It’s nothing I can’t deal with. My Roland Garros happens to be over, but I’m in mixed doubles, so hopefully I can do better and win a match in that event.
“I’m not happy, by any means. But I just always think things could be worse.”
For Serena, she is 30 and I’ve said this before, we just cannot expect her to show up and win like she use to. And I know many think she’s fit, but is she really? I still have my doubts. And she can’t let chair umpires and line calls rattle her like that. I know there were more than a few odd calls, but Serena has to get past that.
Tomorrow, in the match of the day for the women, Serena’s sister, Venus, meets the steady Agnieszka Radwanska.
Also on Wednesday in second round play, Roger Federer returns after a so-so opening round win to face David Nalbandian’s conqueror Adrian Unger – so much for Federer’s tough draw. A win makes Federer the Open Era leader in Slam victories at 234 passing Jimmy Connors.
Frenchman Gilles Simon is back on Chatrier to face his second straight American foe. After outlasting Ryan Harrison yesterday, Simon now get the sizzling Brian Baker. The 27-year-old Baker has been the American story this spring, overcoming five surgeries and six years away from the game. Back in 2003 Baker reached the junior finals at the French losing to Stan Wawrinka.
Simon’s countrymen JW Tsonga, Michael Llodra, Arnaud Clement and Edouard Roger-Vasselin are also scheduled. Roger-Vasselin will face Juan Martin Del Potro who’ll test that bad left knee of his.
World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka start the program on the two show courts. Novak resumes his quest for the “Djoker Slam” against another 25-year-old, the 99th-ranked Blaz Kavcic.
Among the other notable results today Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and David Ferrer all looked good in straight set wins. In a much, much easier affair then his first round nailbiter a year ago over John Isner, Nadal pounded Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 for his 46th win in 47 matches at Roland Garros.
“I’m happy,” said Nadal. “I played, probably, with less stress or nerves than in other first rounds in the past. I relaxed a little bit at 6-2, 4-0, [in] my opinion. I was playing very well at beginning of the match. After I had the break [at 2-2], that period of of eight, nine games, until 4-0, I was playing well.”
American Donald Young his downward spiral; the 22-year-old was blown out by Grigor Dimitrov today. After a promising 2011 season, this year Young has managed just two match wins.
And Serena’s loss really opens the door for Maria Sharapova. The two were seeded to meet in the quarterfinal, but now the Russian has to be considered the favorite to win. At least she is for me.
ESPN2 and Tennis Channel have complete coverage tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Dinah Pfizenmaier (GER)
Roger Federer (SUI) v. Adrian Ungur (ROU)
Gilles Simon (FRA) v. Brian Baker (USA)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v. Venus Williams (USA)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Blaz Kavcic (SLO)
Mathilde Johansson (FRA) v. Petra Cetkovska (CZE)
Petra Martic (CRO) v. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
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