Things We Learned on Day Five 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 we’re happy to have Andrew, aka Foot Soldiers of Tennis, join us.


1. I enjoyed this SBNation piece about Michael Chang’s success at the French Open:

He was generously listed at 5’8 (shorter than me!) and 135 pounds (115 in his thighs). He was fast, and he had a pretty good two-handed backhand, but his most dominant trait was his acceptance of mortality. His playing style can be summed up in the “HURRGH” sound you make when you start sprinting from a dead stand-still.

2. Dominic Thiem’s Facebook updates are always fun, especially because he really likes the word “mega.”

It was a mega experience to stand on the biggest clay court in the world together with the best claycourt player in the world. I unconditionally want to make that experience that again. And the next time I want to come one step closer. This is a big goal and worth working for it as hard as I can. Thanks for your incredible support!

3. Just as we all expected when the draw came out, an Anna Smiedlova vs. Garbine Muguruza third round match where the Williams sisters were in the draw.

4. Bernard Tomic is involved in another scandal, and this one isn’t quite so innocent as his naked rooftop wrestling.

5. The Order of Play for tomorrow looks awesome, but I will be packing up the rest of my apartment because I’m moving on Saturday. I haven’t moved in a couple years, so I forgot how many annoying loose ends need to be taken care of. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch some of the tennis action in the next few days, but I’ll be back paying attention to everything once I get Internet access set up at my new apartment.


1. Well, after an abysmal clay season as usual, the American men have actually been pretty decent here at Roland Garros. John Isner is into the third round (not a huge shock) without much drama (shock), and he actually has company (HUGE shock).

Today, both Donald Young and Jack Sock advanced in straight sets to the third round. Young had the most impressive victory, taking out Feliciano Lopez, while Sock dominated fellow American Steve Johnson. I’m particularly thrilled for Young, who is such a nice guy that I just can’t help but want him to get his act together.

Sock gets No. 83 Dusan Lajovic in the third round, while Young faces Wawrinka’s conquerer, No. 41 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. They both have easier draws than Isner, who faces Robredo. Could an American man make the second week? Stay tuned.

2. I just watched a replay of Sloane’s match against Hercog (I needed the sleep this morning, #sorri) and wow, that’s the best I’ve seen her play in a long time. Once again, this is why it’s so hard to give up hope for her, despite her terrible attitude at non-majors.

Also, Tennis Channel aired an interview with Stephens and her coach Paul Annacone, and their playful relationship is pretty adorable. I wish it was up on YouTube or something, but this is apparently the Slam where you’re not supposed to watch any matches or share anything on social media, because that sure makes the sport popular.

Sloane gets Makarova next, and could face Halep in the fourth round, so keeping her run going will be tough. But you never know.

3. Never change, Sveta.

Sveta/P2tra next, you guys. BUCKLE UP.

4. Gosh, every time I start to get a big head about being a decent tennis writer, Louisa Thomas or Brian Phillips over at Grantland come out with something and send me crashing back down to earth and back to the drawing boards. They are just the best.

Today, Thomas wrote about Simona Halep:

How do you drive another player mad? It’s not enough just to be consistent. Halep learned to disrupt the opposition’s rhythm and disguise her own. At her best, she did not play in patterns. She hit with surprising power. She covered the whole court. She hit balls with heavy power without making a sound. It was Halep who drove Marion Bartoli, fresh from a Wimbledon title, to a teary retirement in Cincinnati. Halep didn’t just play more cleanly than her opponents. She helped them self-combust. When she beat another Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova, for the title in New Haven, she made five errors to Kvitova’s 25 errors.

And Phillips tacked the Williams Sisters:

Still, though. There’s something about the Williams sisters that remains fascinating after all these years — about their relationship, I mean. How they seem to exert this orbital pull on one another. How each still defines our understanding of the other’s career. Maybe the other’s whole self. You probably knew people in high school who were so close that now, when you hear something about one of them, it wakens the other’s shadow in your mind, even if they went separate ways years ago. Stephanie just moved to Phoenix; I wonder where Laura is living? It’s like that with Venus and Serena. As dumb as this probably is, you want to feel that their bond has something to do with you, something to do with their era of women’s tennis. This was the world when we were young. They’re still close, at least judging from Instagram and the frequency with which Venus shows up to cheer in Serena’s player’s box. It’s only their careers that have gradually drifted apart.

5. Richard Gasquet is showing some toughness at this French Open, you guys, which sounds really weird but is true. He had a back injury all clay season and said he was only playing the French Open because of the “French” part. But here he is into the third round without dropping a set to Tomic or Berlocq, and the French crowd is cheering his name, and it’s all just really lovely.

6. Nice interview with Alja Tomljanovic by Courtney Nguyen. Also, I really enjoyed this piece on Timea Bacsinszk, her comeback and personal struggles by Ben Rothenberg. One of my favorite things about the first week of Slams is that the lesser known players often get the press that they deserve, and more stories get told. Good stuff, media friends.

7. We must have done something right this year, tennis fans, because we are going to get rewarded with Gael Monfils vs. Fabio Fognini in the third round. I KNOW. Remember last time? It was so beautiful.

Monfils used today to get warmed up:

Get the popcorn, people. And the vodka.

Andrew, Foot Soldiers of Tennis:

1. Doctor Ivo’s clay pre-conception – Big on serve, slow on movement is the traditional mantra on Ivo Karlvoic, but his record this year at Roland Garros is now played six sets, won six sets after whistling past Andreas Haider-Maurer following his win over Grigor Dimitrov and he’s hit 92 winners so far! With John Isner, Jerzy Janowicz and Milos Raonic all through safely maybe we could learn to think different about play on clay.

2. Poor Pablo Cuevas’s last shot at glory might have gone. The Uruguayan had a horrendous couple of years with a knee injury, and couldn’t sustain things after moving into a two sets to love lead over Fernando Verdasco, only to lose in five, and it denied him a potential high profile match up with Richard Gasquet, who isn’t entirely fit either. Even so Cuevas still has clay court skills, certainly enough to dissect Matthew Ebden, who doesn’t care for the surface, in round one.

3. Julia Glushko’s cash crisis is eased – the Israeli made the third round with a pretty gutsy three set win over Kirsten Flipkens, and is guaranteed prize money of just under $98,000 at current exchange rates. Glushko hadn’t managed a win on the WTA Tour until Roland Garros, and had even begun a crowd sourcing project for funds last year (as spotted by @quadruplebagel on Twitter) – such are the margins for those who want to break into, and stay in, the sport.

4. A dash of Adidas overconfidence – Ana Ivanovic is certainly back as a ‘thing’ these days. and that’s no bad thing, either. But it might have been a little too cocky of even such a loyal sponsor as Adidas to tweet news of her victory midway through the second set of Elina Svitolina. Dewey did not rally to beat Truman and they escaped, but their sponsorship hashtag could do with hushing every now and then.

5. This is not a thing that will surprise in the slightest, but the home support at Roland Garros is usually ribald, boisterous and often ill-mannered by the strictest traditions of Wimbledon when it comes to supporting the home players. As a Brit, I should be appalled. However, I am secretly learning to love their levels of lunacy for Mladenovic, Cornet, et al.


2 Responses

  1. Master Ace
    Master Ace May 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm |

    Guess the money Glushko made at USO by making the 3rd round was not enough.

  2. q10
    q10 May 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm |

    Surprised with Donald’s win against Feli, good for him
    and nice interviews/articles about lesser known players

Comments are closed.