Friday 27 May 2011

Roland Garros - First Two Rounds

Unfortunately, since the Roland Garros started, I didn't have the time to sit down and blog properly. Nor did I see as many matches as I would've liked, but unfortunately watching 5-6 matches in parallel is still not possible :)

Anyway, a quick list of upsets so far, though this is already old news:
Both Berdych and Almagro lost their first-round matches, after leading 2-0 in sets. Next time don't play in Nice just before the RG, boys ;)
A lot of seeds are already out, and there's one section - the bottom section of the top half - which is so completely and utterly open, that it just might have a qualifier going into the quarterfinals, since 3 out of 4 players in the third round are qualifiers.
The bottom half of the men's draw is much stronger, with only 3 out of 16 seeded players out after the first two rounds (compare to 8 out of 16 in the top half).

The women seeds are actually doing a lot better - the only major upset was Kim Clijsters losing today to Arantxa Rus, after leading 6-3 5-2 and having two match points. Considering the fact that Kim hasn't played on clay in ages, an early exit here wasn't such a suprise - but as she was physically fit, the result itself is.

But the story of this tournament so far, in my opinion, is Rafa's first two matches. In the first round, the tennis gods gave us a blockbuster of a match - Rafa Nadal vs. John Isner (a.k.a. winner of the longest match in history). Many (me included) expected it to be a routine win for Nadal, since Isner isn't exactly a clay-court expert, but how wrong we were. Isner fought, and Isner didn't give up, and he played his best tennis for 4 hours. It wasn't enough to win, but it sure was enough to become the first player ever who takes Nadal to 5 whole sets in Paris. So yes, another record (of a sorts) by big John, and I'm already planning to attend his first-round match in the US Open, no matter who he's going to play against. He attracts interesting first rounds in slams, apparently.

Rafa's second round was today, against a fellow Spaniard, Pablo Andujar. I knew Andujar's name, I knew he's got good results on clay (just won his first ATP title in Casablanca less than two months ago), but I haven't actually seen him play. Until today, that is. And all I can say know is - I have a new favorite to follow.

Andujar played some really beautiful tennis today. He stayed with Rafa in the rallies, he hit smart shots and virtuosic shots, and he managed to turn defense to offense, and to make Rafa run for the ball. There aren't many players who can do that against Nadal, and in fact - there were points which reminded me the Rafole finals we've seen so much lately.

I'm finding it hard to pinpoint the exact cause of Andujar's loss today. He was pretty tough mentally, at least in the first 2 sets, in both of which he managed to break Nadal back to even out the score. And it isn't exactly lack of consistency, since his level didn't really drop down for too long at any point. But together, he just wasn't consistent enough, and wasn't mentally tough enough to play it through. And so, being 5-1 40-0 up in the third set, he made too many errors, got broken back twice, and eventually lost the match in a tie break - 7-5 6-3 7-6(5), missing 8 possible set points along the way.

So while he didn't win, I tip my virtual hat to Pablo. I liked this match very much. And looking good doesn't hurt him, either ;)

Tomorrow we have a very promising third round - Juan Martin Del Potro taking on Novak Djokovic. Can I just said that I'm afraid?

(Photos: Roland Garros official facebook page, Novak Djokovic's facebook page)

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