Things We Learned on Day 11 of the 2014 French Open

Throughout the French Open, we’re going to be inviting different people from the tennis community to add to our “Things We Learned” series. Today, Abigail Johnson joins Amy to discuss the action. 


1. I had imagined that Andrea Petkovic’s French Open run would come to an end against such a reliable clay-courter as Sara Errani, but Petkovic demolished her in straight sets, punishing every weak serve and short ball, reaching her first career Grand Slam semifinal.

As far as tennis personalities go, I’ll take Petko over Gulbis every time.

Also, I love her outfit, and I need that skirt.

2. Despite the annoyance of having to pay 60 bucks (including those who already subscribe to the channel through their cable provider), the new Tennis Channel Plus service is actually really good, and they offer streaming for many other tournaments throughout the year. Similarly to TennisTV, they archive matches, and the video player is also similar to TTV. I don’t think it works outside of the United States, but it’s worth checking out if you live here. As a bonus, many of the matches have been commentary-free.

3. If you’ve ever thought David Ferrer has an unfair reputation for folding to the top players, go watch his match today against Rafael Nadal, in which he took the first set, and then performed a ridiculous choke job in the final two sets, losing 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. The reputation exists for a reason. It’s certainly fine to lose to Nadal after winning a set, but losing like that when Nadal’s not even doing anything special should be absolutely embarrassing for a player of Ferrer’s caliber.

Also, there was this:

4. The match between Andy Murray and Gael Monfils was utterly bizarre and unexplainable, but I’m just happy that both quarterfinals were able to wrap up today and that we’ll get a Rafa-Murray semifinal. I’ve always felt that there was no good reason Murray couldn’t play well on clay, and I hope the semifinal is as competitive as the last few clay matches between those two have been.

5. A lesson for Andy Roddick: never try to live-tweet a Monfils match.

6. Robin Soderling still wants to come back. (Insert shameless plug for a piece I did last year on the last match he played.) I would die of excitement if he returned to the tour.


1. Simona Halep has coupled her full game with confidence. She has been the highest seed left since Aga’s departure way back in round three, yet constantly overlooked, at one point even sentenced to play on Court 2! But Simona’s game has never wavered. Power and consistency combined have given her five match wins thus far, with not a single set dropped.

Today’s semifinal versus two-time Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was going to be the biggest test yet. In Halep’s only previous major quarterfinal in Australia this year, she was overwhelmed by the occasion and comprehensively thrashed by Dominika Cibulkova.

But after each of her rounds, the smiling Romanian has spoken of her growing confidence, and today she put that into practice. Sveta was playing some great power tennis, but Simona held her nerve and took the big points, storming to a well deserved, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Simona has well and truly consolidated her place in the world’s elite, regularly coming up with the goods. And although Sharapova often scrapes out matches she shouldn’t necessarily win, if Maria/Simona is the final showdown, she has good reason to be nervous.

2. I didn’t watch the match, but the parts I was able to see showed an Andrea Petkovic on fire. She knew what she was doing. Okay, almost. I’m afraid I think the outfit is a disaster, colours and style, but her game is the important thing. And her game seemed right there. THAT is what you should be doing to Errani’s serve, girls!

Instead of panicking, and seeing this occasion as her best – or last – chance to go deep at a major, Andrea used her experience and focused on what she could do. Good for you, Petko.

3. I cannot imagine Court Philippe Chatrier with a roof, but this is really old news – it needs one. And Lenglen could do with one, too. Play was delayed by three hours today, throwing the tournament into disarray. It cost Petkovic an on-court interview, and caused the Murray/Monfils match conflict over light.

You can’t control the weather, but maybe in the roofless future the organizers could start play earlier if the forecast is terrible. Give themselves a bit of breathing space.

4. All the drama wasn’t even in the tennis during the Monfils/Murray match. In the first set, a point had to be replayed because a linesman fell over! Despite it being rather amusing to viewers, the guy must have been pretty embarrassed. But these French Open participants are good at getting their share of the spotlight. Just ask Djokovic’s rain delay companion. Or the ballkid that ran on court in the middle of a Murray/Troicki point back in 2011.

Then Murray encountered the latest episode of the TheBallFellOutOfMyPocket saga, which caused some disturbance both on and off the court. Say what you like about who should have had the point (Monfils did), but the two facts are: a. It had no bearing on the match, and b. Andy needs deeper pockets. Fast.

5. Sadly the Nadal/Ferrer match was beyond my viewing (ITV4 show one match at a time), but I have a couple of thoughts on it.

Firstly, although Rafa dropped a set, fans can look on the bright side: He had a bit of a test before facing potentially Murray, then Djokovic. This was useful as both those two have either dropped a set (Novak), or been really pushed a few times (Andy). And he won 13 of the last 14 games. So, not a bad day really.

Secondly, I love this. Rafa, David, Toni and Carlos Moya, all happily hanging around together before the match:

Can’t you just picture Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard tomorrow …

Okay. that was sarcasm.

3 Responses

  1. kwando
    kwando June 5, 2014 at 10:36 am |

    Hmm? I thought the French Open was planning on building a roof on one of stadiums in the near future. Did those plans get shelved or something?

  2. Steve
    Steve June 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm |

    Andy Roddick has been doing a podcast on youtube this last week. Has had some interesting commentary on tennis interspersed with other sports. Here was an eye opening comment he made regarding Roger and Rafa and the GOAT conversation. Self-deprecating and awesome as usual.

  3. Steve
    Steve June 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm |

    Another great story from Roddick describing difference between winning at start of career ’03 USO and having a shot towards the end ’09 Wimbledon and squeezing too tight.

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