Things We Learned on Day 12 of the 2014 French Open


1. I think a lot of people have bristled about the comparison between Maria Sharapova and Genie Bouchard, but as far as comparing tennis players go, it’s not that much of a stretch. The way they approach the game is clearly very similar.

They both have success (at varying levels) despite technical limitations in their games; for Genie it’s the hitches in her strokes, and for Maria it’s her forehand’s tendency to break down. They are both hyper-focused, and speak bluntly with the press about their competitiveness. Physical similarities aside, there are plenty of other parallels.

When you have two tall blonde women who hit the ball hard, you’re going to see them compared with each other. It just so happens that in this case, the comparison isn’t actually a bad one.

2. Simona Halep hasn’t had the trickiest draw so far, but the Romanian has played some flawless tennis and showed zero nerves in reaching her first Grand Slam final without dropping a set.

On the other hand, Maria Sharapova has fought through three straight three-setters. Some of her tennis has been ugly, but the WTA’s most reliable clay court player for the last few years has gotten the job done.

You couldn’t ask for a more compelling match-up in the final: the best clay-courter vs. the impressive newcomer. I hope it’s a great match.

3. My favorite hockey player, Jake Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, was impressed with Bouchard’s performance today:

I love it when my two favorite sports intersect.

4. It’s amazing that Maria Sharapova has stayed in the top 10 throughout the whole clay season, when her top 10 status has been on the line so many times. It’s especially impressive, given how lackluster her form looked coming into the clay season. Thanks to her run to the Roland Garros final, Sharapova will move up at least to No. 6 (and to No. 5 if she wins), but there is even more good rankings-related news for her:


1. Maria Sharapova continues to scare the shit out of me in the best way possible. I just don’t know how else to put it. I previewed the final here. In a short (and likely unfair) summary, it’s a battle between Simona’s great form and Sharapova’s great fight. One of them has to give.

2. Let’s give kudos to Eugenie Bouchard, shall we? She’s not perfect nor is she a completed product yet (but really, who is??), but she has impressed me immensely during this fortnight, even more-so than in Australia. Backing up a surprise Slam semifinal run is no small task, but she did not waver.

My favorite thing about Bouchard is her bravery. It’s not that she doesn’t have nerves–she clearly does, you saw them if you watched her play today–but it’s that she continually pushes herself to stick to her aggressive game-plan despite those nerves. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s great to see.

Her impatience and urgency is refreshing in a sea of patience moral victories, and I can only hope that she doesn’t get caught up in the hype, and instead keeps working hard to improve her weaknesses. There have been a lot of 20-ish year-olds who have had great runs for a few months or a year and then faded back into the back once the grind of the tour takes away some of the shine. I think Bouchard certainly has what it takes to keep moving upwards, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

3. I wrote about Ernests Gulbis for Sports on Earth. The fun thing about writing a piece on Gulbis for a more general audience is that you can look back through all his crazy quotes throughout the years and just include those, because really, how else do you go about explaining him? I’m not nearly a good enough writer to sum him up.

Is it crazy that I give Gulbis a shot against Djokovic tomorrow? Because I kind of do…

4. Petkovic should have taken the second set from a nervy Simona, but overall she was just outclassed by the Romanian today. Still, what a fabulous tournament for the German. If you’re unfamiliar with her story, I wrote about her yesterday. Spoiler alert: She’s a proud feminist.

5. Here’s a great article about the financial burdens of being a top tennis player. Unlike most of such pieces, this one focuses on the women’s tour:

Coco Vandeweghe boarded a Lufthansa flight from the U.S. to Marrakech in April for the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, the season’s only WTA tournament in Africa. She stepped onto the clay court for her first-round match against Myrtille Georges and quickly took a 4-1 lead in the first set. And then she sprained her ankle while sliding on the clay, injuring herself so badly that she was forced to retire from the tournament and also withdraw from her next scheduled tournament the following week in Portugal.

She called her travel agent to change her flight plans, checked out of her hotel and returned to California. She estimates that the travel costs for her and her coach (whose expenses she also was responsible for) were at least $4,000.

And her winnings in the Marrakech tournament?


6. This is amazing. All of Rafael Nadal’s tics, broken down. Good job Chris Chase.

7. Doubles update!

-No. 12s Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez will face No. 11s Julien Benneteau and Eduardo Roger-Vasselin for the men’s doubles title tomorrow. There will be some spectacular meltdowns for sure in that match. (AND THERE BETTER BE SOME PICTURES FROM GETTY BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ANY NOW AND I AM MAD.)

-Here is what your women’s doubles semis look like:

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 5.09.06 PM

-And, last but certainly not least, congratulations to Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Jean-Julien Roger, your mixed doubles champions. (I haaate that this happens so early, always sneaks up on me!)

7 Responses

  1. Karen
    Karen June 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm |

    Lindsay, I can’t seem to see the link to the article about Coco.

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay June 5, 2014 at 8:01 pm |

      Sorry–fixed! Not my finest hour =)

  2. kwando
    kwando June 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm |

    Err… Your second point seems to have been cutoff, Lindsay. Unless you’re saying that Bouchard certainly I wrote an article about Gulbis. xP

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay June 5, 2014 at 8:01 pm |

      I’m a mess!! #imfired

  3. Mark
    Mark June 6, 2014 at 1:39 am |

    Amy, what technical limitations are you talking about for Bouchard? There’s a difference between technique and aesthetics. It may not look pretty, but it works for her. Navratilova said she has excellent technique.

  4. Joshua
    Joshua June 6, 2014 at 4:13 am |

    The crap Sharapova’s gotten over the years for “having no Plan B” has always annoyed me. Obviously, this is true. Not only does she not have a Plan B, she doesn’t even have a different Plan A for different players. She doesn’t play the score. She rarely (and usually with poor results) is scared off of her flailing first serve. This is not how I’d recommend anyone play — and I think as the power revolution matures in the women’s game and powersful + technical players begin to fill the ranks this will become a non-working strategy for younger players (Bouchard had better be careful!) just as the “Serve Uber Alles” tactic eventually became, at best, a ticket to the Top 50 in the men’s game. But, man there’s something impressive about it. And it’s a big part of why she’s now on the cusp of a second French Open title. The same set of skills that make her so difficult to beat — that sheer, glassy confidence in her ability to find her range eventually, that bundle of guts and nerve that tears the hearts of her opponents — is what brought her back from shoulder surgery. Remember those just-after-the-return matches? Like, 16 double faults in a WIN kinda matches? I’m sorry, but if I’m as rich as her, as sunshine blonde as her, I’m packing it in right then. It’s too steep a hill to climb, it’s too embarrassing, it’s not worth it. But she kept going. And now it’s to the point where Chris Fowler’s ominous intonation of her double fault count (“She’s now surpassed her total from the Mugurza match . . .”) just seems laughable. Of course she double faulted 7 time. She don’t care.

    PS: Bouchard is not alone in this but: please learn to volley! You can’t butcher super easy volleys in the third set of a major semifinal. I get it, you’re nervous. That’s why you learn to volley. That way, even with nerves and adrenaline and the spirits of Sharapova-victims-past screeching in your head, you can make those easy volleys.

  5. Shirley Hartt
    Shirley Hartt June 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm |

    Thanks for the terrific piece on Petkovic. She is so refreshing and brings a lot to women’s tennis. During her run at Charleston I read the transcripts of her press conferences and became a big fan – of the woman as well as the player.
    Like what you said about Bouchard’s bravery. It’s also apparent in the way she can come back when things look pretty dire. I don’t think she will get caught up in the hype or fade away. Think this is from an earlier article you did on Bouchard, and it says a lot about her attitude. She said: “I love tennis. It’s my life. So thinking about tennis all the time is kind of what I do.” It will be fun to watch her career develop – think she will be very successful.

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