French Open Women: 5 Questions
by Richard Vach | June 5th, 2007, 3:41 pm

5 Questions:

1) What happened to the Williams sisters, American’s lone hope at the French Open?

Venus Williams blamed her loss on fatigue due to over-training, which jibes with people from her camp who say it is an effort to get her off the practice court. As she gets older she is going to need to train smarter. Fitness still seems to be a topic for Serena, who is far from her top fighting weight, and in the semifinal loss to Justine Henin was displaying a lot of poor footwork. One trains too much, the other too little.

2) How did Svetlana Kuznetsova, some people’s pick to win in Paris, lose a 6-0 set in the quarterfinals?

The Russian’s US Open title could unfortunately be her lone Slam win unless she checks in with a sports psychologist. Kuzy gets tight rather than playing though sticky situations like a champion, such as this week against Anna Ivanovic in her 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 loss. It certainly didn’t help Kuzy’s cause when world No. 1 Roger Federer unexpectedly named her as his pick to win the French, turning up the pressure dial to 11.

3) Who were the breakout women at the French through the first week?

Not exactly breakout material since they are Top 10, but the Serbs, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic continue to push themselves onto the radar of even casual tennis fans with their good looks and better-looking games, moving into the French semifinals. If the WTA Tour is serious about marketing as a “world sport,” these two need to be on a poster together. Jankovic will face top-seeded Justine Henin in the semis, while Ivanovic will square off against No. Maria Sharapova, which leads to the question…

4) Can Maria Sharapova win the French?


Sharapova is far from physically fit, playing on a tendonitis-ridden shoulder, and still moves on the clay like a baby deer who wandered on a frozen lake. Perhaps some year with just the right draw and some grinding practice to improve her mobility, but not this year with the bad wing. Hell of an effort though at a tournament she almost skipped with injury.

5) Venus Williams’ camp said she played the event on a bad foot, and Serena constantly struggles with injuries. Who are the next Americans on the horizon once the Williams retire?

Lining up behind the Williams sisters currently set to make a Top 10 impact are…no one. In fact the four players currently ranked behind the Williams sisters are Meilen Tu who is approaching 30 years of age, veteran Meghann Shaughnessy who’s best years are likely behind her at age 29, Lindsay Davenport who just retired, and tour veteran Laura Granville who struggles to stay in the Top 100. Ranked behind them, not for lack of trying, are the potpourri of players grinding out tournaments at the minor-league level hoping for a breakthrough, with no clear “can’t miss” prospect in sight.

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13 Comments for French Open Women: 5 Questions

samps Says:

Richard, I’ve said it elsewhere but the notion that Venus was Over Training is laughable to say the least. Hell, apparently she also had a sore knee as Dad Williams said the day After she lost(a problem she has been having for some time it Seems as Dad further claimed After the day she lost to Jankovic). Tell me how do you manage to Over Train with a sore knee? Its complete nonsense. Its just another excuse in a long line of excuses. The Williams family are the sorest bunch of losers to grace tennis in well some time and thats obvious from Dad’s and his daughters’ attitude. They never praise their opponents and always claim its something to do with them.

ermy s Says:

i think venus williams is making excuses and so is serena williams for their poor effort.

John Says:

1) Maybe Venus and Serena just got beat by better players. No excuses.

2) Maybe Svetlana got beat 6-0, the same way that Rafa got beat by Fed 6-0.

3)Breakout women: IMO, Safarova, Ivanovic and Schnyder, who should have beat Maria in the third set. Just ask the fans who were there.

4) Can Maria win the French? Yes. Especially when she turns her back on her opponent before every point. Changes racket when she’s down 40-0. Screeches the loudest on the biggest points. And just plain annoys her opponents.

5) The next Americans? You left out Ashley Harkleroad, who lost in the second round to Venus 61,76(8), and Vania King who won her singles match in the last Fed Cup. Maybe Maria, Nicole and Jelena, who live in Florida, could be counted as Americans. Their English is as good as Martina Navratilova’s.

Richard Vach Says:

Hey John,

“2) Maybe Svetlana got beat 6-0, the same way that Rafa got beat by Fed 6-0.”

So maybe Svetlana was exhausted when she started her match, just as Rafa was in the third set of his match against Federer, on the tail end of a massive claycourt win streak?

“5) The next Americans? You left out Ashley Harkleroad, who lost in the second round to Venus 61,76(8), and Vania King who won her singles match in the last Fed Cup.”

I left them out because they will be left out, they have no shot of cracking the Top 10, or probably the Top 20. Both are frequently injured, Harkleroad is sporadic and can’t stay in top shape, and King is a great grinder but her size and game will limit her to Top 50-ish status. For the sake of U.S. tennis I hope I’m wrong and you’re right.

John Says:

2) Maybe Svetlana got beat 6-0, the same way that Rafa got beat by Fed 6-0.

Svetlana got whipped in the first set because Ana was on fire making some great shots while Svetlana was missing most of hers. Chalk it up to Ana had an excellent first set, while Kuznetsova was way off. It happens.

Some first set stats:

Elapsed time 21 minutes.
Points: AI 25, SK 8.
Unforced Errors: AI 2, SK 10.
Winners: AI 3, SK 1.
AI first serve: AI 6, SK 2.
AI second serve: AI 7, SK 2.
SK first serve: AI 5, SK 2.
SK second serve: AI 7, SK 2.

BTW, I don’t buy the Rafa was tired excuse.

rwn Says:

Come on, Vach. We all know you love Nadal and hate Federer. But stop making pathetic excuses about Nadal being exhausted. Did you accept that excuse when Federer lost to Murray in Cincinnatti after winning Toronto and being in the final of every tournament he played that year. No, you claimed Federer tanked that match. What an incredible hypocrite you are.

Richard Vach Says:

Hey rwn,

Was watching a re-run of last year’s final today when Roger blitzed Rafa 6-1 in the first set, no excuses there. I love Roger, but I call them like them is. After consecutively winning at Monte, Barcelona and Rome, pretty much everyone realized the “pathetic excuse” that Rafa was beat in that final — he couldn’t hit the ball deep, his footwork was poor, etc. That didn’t take everything away from Rog’s win, it was just a fact. I’m likely just wasting my time with an uber-fan, in this case a Rog uber-fan who is going to spew hate at anything remotely negative toward his hero. Anyway, Fed has a great chance in the final and Rafa has no exhaustion excuse since he had a week off after his AMAZING 81-match winning streak. May the best man win, and if it’s Roger we can crown the greatest player EVER.

John Says:

re: first set 6-0

I just compared the Ivanovic/Kuznetsova match with the Nadal/Moya match:

Fastest first serve:

Moya 217 kph, 135 mph
Nadal 193 kph, 120 mph

John Says:

My last entry was truncated. Here it is again.

I just compared the Ivanovic/Kuznetsova match with the Nadal/Moya match:

Fastest first serve:

Moya 217 kph, 135 mph
Nadal 193 kph, 120 mph ***
Ivanovic 191 kph, 119 mph ***
Kuznetsova 181 kph, 112 mph

Other related info:


Nadal 185 cm, 6 feet 1
Ivanovic 185 cm, 6 feet 1

Nadal 85 kg, 188 lbs
Ivanovic 73 kg, 160 lbs

Disclaimer: Nadal is right handed but serves left handed.

Dr. Death Says:


Take a quick tour up the page. This started out as an article on “French Open Women”. The comments are back to Nadal, Federer.

What does this tell us about women’s tennis? Does anyone care? Not many I suspect. Women’s tennis is a fashion show and an occasion for a few to show off their bodies.

I propose an experiment. Let us have the women play in the UGLY Lacoste clothes the French women’s team wore in the Fed Cup and see what kind of audience women’s tennis draws.

allcourt Says:

Better idea. At a big mixed gender tournament, let’s devote one stadium to women’s matches only and one to men’s matches for one full day. Charge the same admission for both (or make them both free or minus any additional admission charges), and put the same number* of matches (selected by ATP and WTA) in each. Then let’s see which stadium draws more fans. I’d bet that the women will beat the men easily, and MAYBE, this garbage we hear about the better quality and the wider popularity of men’s tennis will cease.

*If it’s a Slam and the men play their marvelous, so-much-better 3/5 matches instead of 2/3 for which they deserve so much more money (tee hee), we can schedule fewer men’s matches.

Colleen Says:

Well, John McEnroe and the other commentators agreed with Vach that Nadal was exhausted by the time Hamburg rolled around. That was his 20th match of the clay court season, and Roger played, what, 12?

But when the chips were down again at Roland Garros, Fed came up short, so I don’t think even he cares one jot about the Hamburg turnaround at this point.

Nadal shouldn’t play Hamburg any more if he continues to play Barcelona, which he should since it’s a home tournament with a great clay court field and the conditions in Hamburg are so different from Roland Garros.

MarkKW Says:

To hear commentators and tennis analysts say it, there is ONLY Federer and Nadal on the men’s side. Unless they’re American, then they’ll toss in Roddick and Blake for effect. If Rafa or Roger don’t make the finals, the tournament is over as far as their concerned. Go ahead and hand the trophy over to the one who didn’t lose early. It’s the same kind of dominance Navratilova and Evert had on the women’s side in the 80’s until Graf came along and started dominating, then Seles came along and made it interesting.

I’d say comparitively speaking, women’s fields are still pretty much open among a group five or six players, depending on the surface. At Wimbledon, I don’t know many that would rule out Serena or Venus.

There’s a lot more players on the women’s side with Slam titles on their resume. Outside of Nadal and Federer, you have Hewitt and Roddick. On the women’s side, among players who’ve played at least once in the past two years, there’s Henin, Hingis, Mauresmo, Clijsters (for this year, anyways), Davenport (on maternity leave), Myskina (future in doubt, but, she played the French), Kuznetsova, Venus, Serena, Sharapova, and Mary Pierce. Capriati is AWOL.

If we’re going to compare apples to oranges, who’s the next men’s hope while Federer and Nadal are in the picture? Blake? Mardy Fish? Robbie Ginepri?

I’d say both sides are about even. It seems like a lot of hooey after a pretty typical French. American’s on the men’s side: Agassi, Courier, and Chang. Women’s side: Navratilova, Evert, Capriati, and Serena. Hasn’t been stellar. Apart from Evert, never has been.

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