10 Quick Takes For the First Week in Paris

by Dan Martin | May 26th, 2009, 10:58 pm

1. The WTA tour needs the eventual winner here in Paris to play well for the rest of 2009. Absentee champions and world #1’s with no grand Slam titles in the past 52 weeks have hurt the WTA for years now. I am not breaking any news, but the WTA needs someone who can win the big prizes and play well all season.

2. Andy Murray in all black might make a stir, but can’t the media look at his results since Wimbledon 2008 and see he means business rather than deducing that from his wardrobe?

3. Rafael Nadal is a massive favorite. Nadal having a day off between matches along with a slower larger court upon which to track down shots means Madrid’s semifinal and final round may have been aberrations. Even if they were not aberrations, Nadal is still a heavy favorite.

4. I can’t help but wonder what Ivan Ledl could have done adding today’s string technology to his imposing strength and stamina.

5. While Jimmy Connors made a lot of headlines for tennis from 1974-1991, it is probably time to stop using photos that seem to only portray our top talent sneering while yelling “Come’on!” or “Vamanos!” What’s next an audio montage of all of the various grunts and shrieks?

6. Tennis Magazine has an article about how hitting on the rise, hugging the baseline and trying to hit off of the front foot are no longer sacrosanct rules for how one ought to play tennis. This is undoubtedly true, but wouldn’t it be nice to see players such as Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro move into the court a little more often?

7. Regarding #3, if Nadal had to sculpt clay pots during changeovers, it might make the odds more like 50-50 for Nadal vs. the field.

8. I am wondering when the last Swede won in Paris? Mats Wilander won in 1988. From 1974-1988, Sweden produced 9 French Open championships. Since 1988, Stefan Edberg and Magnus Norman have posted runner-up finishes. Screaming Viking!

9. Should Kim Clijsters have upped the date of her return and tried to play her way into form over 2 weeks?

10. Finally, I will be writing more frequently. Between my nearly 7 month old daughter and work on my always just-out-of-reach doctoral dissertation, I have not been able to write for Tennis-X as often as I should. My daughter is tall and seems strong for her age. Maybe I should pull a Mike Agassi and replace her mobile animals with dangling tennis balls. I will draw the line by not taping a ping pong paddle to her hand. However, changing her last name to “Martinova” seems prudent.

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25 Comments for 10 Quick Takes For the First Week in Paris

NachoF Says:

It’s ‘Vamonos’

zola Says:

nice to see you writing again.

So you have a 7-month old right now. How fun! Enjoy every moment. They grow up before you know.
btw, what is your dissertation on?

WTA is becoming a bit more interesting now with Safina, Wozniacki, Azarenka… and with Venus and Serena playing more often ( and perhaps Sharapova returning), Dokic playing well,….
But you are right. A consistent champion can save WTA from becoming a joke.

Why Andy Murray playing in black is a stir? It looks good on him.

Interesting point about the last Swede to win RG. Indeed according to wikipedia the last Swede to win was Wilander in 1988 and the last runner up was Norman in 2000.
The last American to win FO was Agassi in 1999 and 6 of the past seven FO titles have been won by Spanish players!

zola Says:

Nacho F
So it is not Vamos?
What does Vamonos mean?

Dan Martin Says:

Sorry about my conjugation of ir not being what it should be.

jane Says:

Funny point about Murray – but that’s just it innit? How many articles did I read after Nadal came on court wearing pink? I am sure there was at least one declaring “Pretty in Pink” or some such stupid headline. The media, especially the non-specialist media, is just out for whatever will grab attention. Sometimes I am shocked by the errors they make and the way they blow the players comments all out of proportion. Just the other day I was reading something in an online San Fran paper, and the writer made a glaring mistake imo, saying Djokovic was schooled by Fed in the 2008 USO final: Djoko played the 08 semifinal against Roger and it was 2007 when they played in the final. This writer completely overlooked Murray’s final appearance. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. I mean, a typo is one thing, but the media needs to get their facts straight -tall order I suppose!


Now I try to stick to tennis or at least sports-related websites.

Anyhow, glad to hear your daughter is strong and growing. All the best on finishing that doctoral…

zola Says:

That was an interesting link. I have seen some of these errors too. Perhaps some are typos, but you think there will be editors for that !

There are many articles about Rafa’s pink outfit, as well as questions during his presser and even asked on his blog by Neil Harman of timesonline.


I think both Rafa and Andy look good in their outfits.

Tom Says:

65% of people think Nadal will NOT win the French Open this year (according to the poll on this site)!!! What disillusioned fools!

zola Says:

tennis channel is showing both Chatrier and Lenglen courts live ( and with great quality):


This is a great job by the tennis channel. I am glad they will cover the US Open too.

jane Says:

Good for Murray to pull out that win; I thought Starace played a great match. Why have I never seen him before? Was he playing in the other clay events this year? I know he was suspended for betting on a match, not his own, but still I just don’t recall seeing him much, though the name is familiar. He really went for his shots today, some beautiful drop shots and drives, but he made too many errors in this risky play and I think that cost him. But Murray played a fine match too, with some of those famous explosion-out-of-nowhere shots of his. He still has a tendency to sit back a bit too much, play a bit passively, but obviously he can be very aggressive when he wants to be.

Does Starace remind anyone else of a dark haired/complexion Juan Carlos Ferrero?

NachoF Says:

Vamos and vamonos is pretty much the same thing but are used in different situations.

Vamonos que se se esta haciendo tarde.
Lets go that its getting late.

Vamos perdiendo :(
We are losing :(

….. its complicated to explain.

ThyGodisTennis Says:

So there is more space to run for Nadal. Wow, great rationalization for the Nadal loss. What new excuse do have at the ready when Nadal is de-throned in Paris?

Federer Drop Shot Says:

Didn’t see the Nadal match today? Did he play better than he did in the first round?

jane Says:

From an article at ESPN re: Rafa and Fed’s draws…

“Rafael Nadal has never lost at the French Open, but this is his toughest draw to date. He could meet a struggling but experienced former No. 1 (Lleyton Hewitt) in the third round, an excellent clay-court player and former world No. 4 in the fourth round (David Ferrer), either Fernando Verdasco (who is having a breakthrough season) or Nikolay Davydenko (a former semifinalist) in the quarterfinals, and then Andy Murray, one of the game’s most talented and resourceful players, in the semifinals. Last year, Nadal didn’t lose a set and stomped Roger Federer in the final. This year, he is less rested after a taxing week in Madrid and must face stiffer competition. Will we finally see Nadal struggle in Paris?

Unlike Nadal, Federer is looking at one of the best French Open draws of his career, at least until the semifinals. Andy Roddick, who has never reached the second week in Paris, is the highest-ranked player in Federer’s quarter. Gael Monfils, another possible quarterfinal opponent, has an injured knee. Federer fans shouldn’t be concerned about an early upset. Rather, the question is, will Federer be ready for Djokovic when the time comes? He won’t face many challenges until then.”

Dan Martin Says:

I think Federer has an excellent shot at the quarters or semis regardless of draw in part because he has not failed to reach a quarter or semifinal since his 3rd round loss in Paris in 2004. Roddick on clay did take a set off of Roger in Madrid and Roger has not been up to his own standards for most of the past 16-18 months. Still, he is a good bet to make it through some spots.

Nadal played a taxing Hamburg last season going 6 sets over the final 2 days. Rafa lost 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in Hamburg 2007 and won the French with a lot of ease after the week off and two weeks of every other day play. I do have a feeling Nadal is in a different spot being #1 and having the tour put its collective efforts on beating him, but he should be able to navigate tough waters.

Dan Martin Says:

Thygod I am not rationalizing anything. To beat the world #1 in his home country in the final of a Masters Series (or whatever they are called these days) event is a big deal. I also think Nadal is 4-0 vs Roger in Paris over the past 4 years winning 12 sets and dropping only 3. Federer beat Nadal on clay in 2007. Federer lost a classic 5 set battle in Rome to Nadal. Federer played Nadal tough at Monte Carlo and Hamburg last year. Paris is different than Madrid or Hamburg or Rome or Monte Carlo. That does not make matches at those great events unimportant. It just means Paris for various reasons including the size of the back court area suits Nadal really well.

Anyone who has read my entries here knows I will be upfront about my preference for Federer’s game over just about anyone else’s in tennis history. I like players with one handed backhands and to my mind he is the most complete and most impressive player with a one handed backhand in a totality sort of way that I have ever seen. I ate bitter dark Swiss chocolate after the Wimbledon final last year. Look at it this way, Nadal is 152-5 on clay since the start of 2005. Nadal may be 9-2 vs Federer on clay, but 2 of those 5 losses came against Federer and that says a lot about Federer on the dirt as Nadal’s clay run these 5 years has been beyond sublime.

Skorocel Says:

“Unlike Nadal, Federer is looking at one of the best French Open draws of his career, at least until the semifinals.”

Gosh, one could only imagine what would’ve those people written had Djokovic ended in Nadal’s half of the draw… WTF else do you guys want?! Fed facing Kuerten, Villas, Muster or Lendl en route to the finals?!

jane Says:

BTW, that was Tom Perrotta of ESPN who said that about the draws, and he was mainly discussing that it might be a tough year for Nadal to win, lots of “obstacles”.
Here’s the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4209085&name=tennis

Talktennis said the same thing in their draw analysis when comparing the two:

I don’t know what these people would’ve written if Djoko was on the other side, but it does seem to be a consensus among some of the analysts that Fed has a fairly easy way through up until the semis. Personally, I am not meaning it as an insult; it’s just that by comparison that’s how it looks “on paper.” Sometimes things don’t play out the way they look on paper, though. You never know.

Roddick could really find his form on clay this year and; Monfils didn’t seem too shabby his first round match. So it’s a wait and see proposition. Meanwhile, on paper there do seems to be more “clay” threats on Nadal’s side in these next few rounds, but for 2nd round match ups Nadal’s seems easier than Fed’s.

Kimmi Says:

Jane, you made a good point. Good example is 09 AO where federer was said to have easy draw to the semi and then we all know what happened when he met Berdych.

BTW verdasco has been looking good. Next he meets Almagro …good test for him, with his new game he should go thru though.

Voicemale1 Says:

All the talk about the toughness of Nadal’s Quarter is puzzling. The names in there aren’t any who have troubled him before, especially on clay. Moreover, he doesn’t have to face all of them, just the one who comes through the group of them. Davydenko, Warwrinka, Verdasco, Almagro and Gulbis will all have to settle their own differences well before Nadal sees the one who gets through (I pick Davydenko). As for his own segment of this Quarter, Nadal has Hewitt next, who might trouble him a lot more on a hard court but is unlikely to on clay; and then either Ferrer or Soderling in Round 4. Ferrer hasn’t been anywhere near his form of 2007 when he was #5 in the World. Soderling played Nadal in Rome weeks ago and his reward was 1 game in 2 Sets. Given how Murray struggled already, he’s a shaky bet to even get to the Semis. I’m guessing Gonzo, who’s played very well in his first two rounds, will get through this section into the Semis and not Murray or Simon.

jane Says:

Almagro beat Gulbis today Voicemale1 so that much is settled.

Thanks. It’s true Kimmi – I find more and more with draws that it just depends on upsets and players’ form and so much else. So it’s wait and see, wait and see. Nadal has the right attitude: take it match by match and see. On the other hand it’s difficult not to worry, look and wonder about our favorite players’ sections and to see how many nemeses or threats are potentially lurking there. That’s mostly what the analysts do i think.

Giner Says:

“1. The WTA tour needs the eventual winner here in Paris to play well for the rest of 2009. Absentee champions and world #1’s with no grand Slam titles in the past 52 weeks have hurt the WTA for years now. I am not breaking any news, but the WTA needs someone who can win the big prizes and play well all season.”

Wouldn’t this lead to Federer-like complaints about domination and boringness/predictability? Fed had a lot of detractors during his years of dominance, and there is some merit to their complaints, though I didn’t share them.

Dan Martin Says:

Hewitt’s only edge may be how badly Nadal destroyed him at the Olympics last year before his surgery. Hewitt might be really dialed into this match, but that at best could get him 1 set.

zola Says:

Rafa and Hewitt are good friends. I am sure they will both play their best against each other but just because it is a GS.

It is amazing that players can come out of surgery and play hours of tennis. Very encouraging. who knows how much work they have to do to get the strengh and the movement back.Maybe Nalby will be allright too.

Dan Martin Says:

I am sure Rafa and Hewitt really respect the fire that each has. I also think any GS match is going to be huge for there two warriors. My thought is just that Hewitt took a beating and is unlikely to not let that add a little more fire to his game, The funny thing about the Olympics is the day after Nadal crushed Hewitt 6-1, 6-2 Hewitt comes back w/ Guccione and beats Nadal and his partner in doubles. Hewitt is a fighter. He will fight Nadal, but on this surface I see Nadal winning in 3 or 4 pretty routine sets.

jane Says:

Giner, I think there’s a difference between wanting to see a WTA champion play consistently and continue to “play well”, which is what the quote says, than having ONE player dominate almost ALL the major events for THREE years. I don’t think that’s what’ll happen in the WTA anyhow; there is some depth developing with the younger players, and players like Safina, Ivanovic and Jankovic may find some consistency. Then there are the Williams sisters and now Sharapova’s back, so some multiple slam winners, which means that the WTA may be turning its corner from floundering for the last year, year and a half, or so.

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