Things We Learned on Day Four of the 2014 French Open


1. For a while, it looked like the Andy Murray curse would take another victim, after he tweeted about being impressed by Taylor Townsend during her match against Alize Cornet.

Cornet came back from a couple breaks down in the second set to force a third after Andy’s tweet, but Townsend held on.

2. Is this the year that Serena Williams finally becomes human and stops racking up slams like it’s nothing? With tame losses at the two 2014 majors so far to Ana Ivanovic and Garbine Muguruza, it might be time to consider whether Serena’s window is closing, much like Roger Federer’s all but did in 2011. Nobody is immune to the effects of aging. However, she’s still the one to beat on the grass courts of Wimbledon, and she’s never been a sure thing at Roland Garros, so I’m not selling my stock just yet.

3. While anybody beating Serena Williams is a shocker, I’m not that surprised to see Muguruza have a breakthrough against a top player. She appears to be the real deal. Serena’s loss opens up the draw for other players, but don’t expect Muguruza to be an easy out. Given Muguruza’s draw, she could very well make the quarters. In today’s match, she smothered Serena with her depth, and pulled out the big serves when she needed them in her straight sets victory over the World No. 1. I charted the match for the Match Charting Project, and you can find very detailed stats from it here.

4. Speaking of the Match Charting Project, if you haven’t tried charting a match for it yet, now is a good time to start. Charting matches allows you to pick up so much insight about a player’s tactics, strengths, and weaknesses. If you’re really interested in having more sophisticated tennis stats available for everyone, I highly recommend you do your part. You’re going to be watching the matches anyway, so why not chart them while you do it?


1. I’m not one to go all apocalyptic every time there’s a loss by a top player at a Slam, but I do have to say that there has been a worrying pattern this year in Serena’s losses, and it’s one that I’m not sure that she’ll be able to undo due to the ticking clock of time.

She just doesn’t have the Plan B that she needs to get through her off days anymore. That doesn’t mean she can’t win a major, again–I still think her best is better than the rest, and likely will be for another year or so. However, over the course of a fortnight, off days happen. Ivanovic and now Muguruza have provided a pretty clear blueprint of how to take advantage of said bad days. When players take away the ability for Serena to dictate with her power, she begins to push. When she’s not feeling good about the way her game is clicking for whatever reason, that pushing turns disastrous.

I gave my full take on Serena’s loss for Bleacher Report, where I argued that it might be time to start worrying about her future. On The Changeover, Serena fan Abigail gave her account of the events.

2. Taylor Townsend, you guys. TAYLOR. TOWNSEND. I could not have been more impressed with the 18-year-old today, as she handled the French crowd and her nerves and a much improved Alize Cornet to get her first top-25 win and make it to the third round in her very first GS main draw of her career.

I know, I know, we all get too excited too soon and heap pressure on these young players before they’re ready, but if we’re comparing her to other young American prospects such as Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, the upside looks huge. Her game is much more versatile than Madison’s, and her competitive spirit and passion for the game are much more developed than Sloane’s.

It’s a long road from here, and I’m sure that Townsend will have her ups and downs, but I’ll be rooting for her to put it all together. In the short term, I’m excited to see how she follows this up against seasoned clay-courter Carla Suarez Navarro.

I need to watch it again because I was writing about Serena during the match, but so far that gets my nod for the match of the tournament. The ladies rocked it today.

3. I explored Ana Ivanovic’s seemingly aimless process for Sports on Earth, and discovered that it looks like it’s finally paying off. Keep your eyes on the Serb–I still don’t fully trust her to be consistent, but my expectations are much higher than they’ve been since 2008, and she’s earned them fair and square.

4. Alright, Isner. I’m going to keep ignoring you because that seems to be working. Robredo next. Robredo HATES playing big-time servers on clay. That’s a weird thing to say, but true. He’s lost to Ranoic and Cilic already this year, and he’s lost to Karlovic and even RODDICK on clay before. So keep focused, Johnny.

5. It was nice of Teen Beat magazine to do a profile on Grigor Dimitrov, the newest member of One Direction. He’s so dreamy.

(Seriously though guys, that story makes me uncomfortable for many reasons.)

6. Matt Zemek writes that these early-round upsets are reminders that we often put too much faith in our superstars, and that we need to keep propping up the supporting casts in tennis. Of course, if you’re reading this site you likely know your Berlocqs from your Monacos, but the point still stands.

7. I agree with Jeff— Diego Sebastian Schwartzman was impressive in his match against Federer, and is certainly a player to watch.


9. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” -Maya Angelou, RIP.

3 Responses

  1. q10
    q10 May 28, 2014 at 10:52 pm |

    Would be good to see isner pull through but not hopeful

  2. sushichan
    sushichan May 29, 2014 at 2:20 am |

    LOOOOOOOL seriously, if I were you, I wouldn’t worry about Serena Williams’ future. Are you for real? Talk about the utterly wrong choice of words to use!

  3. 3GamesToLove
    3GamesToLove May 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm |

    This is not specific to this article, as it’s a good take on events in RG, and it’s good to see more regular update so far during this tournament…

    But in general, it’s a real shame what’s happened to this site in 2014. Last year it was tremendous–constantly updated with various perspectives and different types of articles. It was one of my first stops for all things tennis. I also listened to the podcast regularly and really appreciated the weekly format and the attention given to the week-to-week grind of the tours in that podcast.

    Unfortunately, it’s something that kind of happens when you have writers who have other jobs and commitments other than writing about tennis. I’ve had the same thing happen to me on more than one occasion when I’ve started blogs. I hope this is just a blip and this site can get back into full swing later this year. I’m rooting for you guys.

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