Things We Learned on Day 12 of the French Open


1. Tomas Berdych is killing it on Twitter. He tweeted 83 (!) times on his first day on the social media platform. As we already knew from his Facebook account, he is the most random person ever. Some of my faves:

2. There’s nothing that brings out the grunting jokes and complaints like a Sharapova-Azarenka match. It’s such a tired conversation. If the grunting bothers you that much, there’s really nothing preventing you from just turning off the match. I can certainly say that the complaints are impeding my ability to enjoy the match a lot more than the actual grunting, but that’s just me.

Moreover, though grunting might be an issue in this particular match-up, it’s hardly the norm on the WTA. Most players don’t grunt in an over-the-top fashion, so you can spare us complaints about how it’s a huge problem with the WTA as a whole. I can count only a handful of players who really produce any noise that would be truly bothersome, if you’re the type to be bothered by that sort of thing.

3. In the States, quite possibly the biggest men’s match of the year so far will only be shown on the Tennis Channel, and the Tennis Channel won’t be offering an online stream to the many many people who don’t get the channel. Even I, a hardcore tennis watcher, didn’t get the Tennis Channel until last year when I moved into my new apartment. That’s a pretty big bummer for those tennis fans who can’t afford the cost of the premium cable sports package.

4. Sergei Krotiouk, a seemingly irrelevant tennis player, was handed a lifetime ban from tennis due to various charges, including match-fixing. Foot Soldiers of Tennis wrote about why we should care about it.

Krotiouk boasts of his coaching credentials, claiming to work with top 50 juniors and top 250 men and women. He also describes himself as a hitting partner for leading women Vera Zvonareva, Elena Dementieva and Anna Chakvetadze.

The club he also has listed in his ITF player profile, the Pirogovsky Club, holds an international event for under 14′s each year.

The thought of a man now deemed to be a serial corrupter of the sport working with promising juniors is not a pleasant one to contemplate.

Juan José:

1. Maria Sharapova can play at a level where she’s untouchable. The reigning French Open champ absolutely blitzed Victoria Azarenka after dropping the initial game of their semifinal. The six subsequent games were quite violent: I keep coming back to the stat about how Azarenka only managed to win three points off her serve in the entire set. However, as we’ve seen with Maria, her fall from those heights is never gentle: she dropped the second set 6-2 (and created no break points), and had to grind away a third set that should’ve been shorter than it ended up being (if you missed a match, you can catch up on all the details here)

Regardless, the big challenge for Sharapova is to somehow summon her ClayPova God Mode for two sets in Saturday’s final. That’s essentially what it will take to overcome Serena Williams.

2. Speaking of the World No. 1, her 46-minute dismantling of World No. 5 Sara Errani has to be one of her greatest ever performances. Just look at this tweet:

I tweeted shortly after the match that it’ll take at least a couple decades for us to see a talent like Serena Williams. Enjoy her while she’s around.

3. More than learned, today I remembered that my all-time favorite tennis announcers are by far Javier Frana and Luis Alfredo Álvarez, who do all the tennis broadcasts for ESPN Latin America. I grew up watching tennis and hearing those guys call matches, up until 2008, when I moved to the US. To say I’ve missed them is an understatement. But since five years have passed, I had learned to adapt to the new surroundings, and I’ve started to love Jason Goodall and Robbie Koenig, as well as Darren Cahill, Brad Gilbert, Lindsay Davenport, and Martina Navratilova.

Still, when I saw that I could watch the women’s semis with their commentary (a nice bonus from ESPN3), I didn’t think twice. And, man, was it wonderful. I missed Frana’s nuanced commentary – particularly how he makes nuts-and-bolts observations about strokes and mechanics seem easily digestible (he kept harping about how Sharapova’s toss goes forward too much, and how Azarenka was getting in trouble with her forehand because she was trying to put spin on the ball with her arm instead of her hand). I missed Álvarez’ excitement after a great shot. I missed hearing just two people call my tennis matches. No studio, nothing. Just two guys who complement each other perfectly talking about a sport they love and still find fascinating after all these years.

Obviously, I’ll be paying more and more attention to the ESPN3 stream options in the future. Maybe I’ve already missed out on a few other occasions when they’ve been present (ESPN Latin America usually does the Slams and the Masters 1000s). Regardless, I’m just glad that today I got a chance to be reunited with old “friends” after all these years.


1. Victoria Azarenka is going to be a force on clay over the next few years, and I definitely think she will win the French Open one day. She has improved so much in every facet of her game on the clay, and there is just no reason why she can’t excel on the surface. Making the semis this year was a huge step. Don’t count her out in the future. Her competitive nature is going to make sure that she figures out how to succeed no matter where she is.

2. Can we just remember what an awesome year Sara Errani has had? It’s easy to see her get obliterated in them semis by Serena and completely patronize her, but seriously–I would have never ever thought 18 months ago that Sara Errani was going to be one of the most consistent and great WTA players. Pretty awesome.

3. I thoroughly enjoyed the women’s semis day. There was a super competitive match filled with drama and nerves and guts, and there was one of the best players ever putting in one of her greatest performances ever. I am so sick of every single match in the WTA being spinned as a negative, and every single match in the ATP being spinned as a positive. Today had a little of everything, and the final is going to be the No. 1 in the world vs. the No. 2 in the world. Can’t we just praise that and be done with it?

4. Today I’m thankful for old friends. I’m in Charlotte having a reunion with two of my best friends in the world, and they waited around today as I watched tennis and got my writing assignments completed. They would not know Ferrer from Tsonga, but it’s nice to have friends who have patience with what I love and do. Similarly, I have told them that I don’t need to write anything tomorrow, but I know they are going to let me keep an eye on the men’s semis. I’m a lucky girl. I also need to stop planning social activities during slams.

5. This is the first time that Sharapova has made the final of a Grand Slam the year after winning it. Good for her. It’s great that she and Serena only get more committed with age. Now, if Sharapova could challenge Serena we’d really be onto something.

8 Responses

  1. Nicole
    Nicole June 7, 2013 at 1:00 am |

    Lindsay, I feel you re: “I need to stop planning social events during Slams.” You’re fortunate to have understanding friends. I just realized today that my family and I will be roadtripping halfway across the US for a two-week vacation with our families — during the entirety of Wimbledon. I’m already wondering if they will have patience with my desire to watch tennis during the day. Maybe I’ll get lucky too… (a girl can dream)

    Thanks for the post, ladies and g. I was hoping to hear more about Berdych’s embracing of Twitter. And yes, those were some darned great ladies’ semis today. Fun and suspense in one, unbelievable excellence in the other. (I knew Serena and Errani wouldn’t be close… I had no idea Serena would play so flawlessly!)

  2. Ophelia
    Ophelia June 7, 2013 at 1:24 am |

    I would say that I learned that Serena is the best player in the world now by at least a million miles and that Sharapova’s competitiveness and consistency is rivaled only by Serena and Nadal, but I already learned about both of these things a long time ago. Nothing new there.

    I do wish that the “rivalry” between the two best players in the world wasn’t so lopsided, though. While I am definitely *not* of the opinion that Serena or the rest of the field should somehow be condemned/bashed for one of the greatest tennis players ever playing to her abilities that the rest of the field simply don’t have, I find it hard to get genuinely excited about Serena/Sharapova matches in the same way as with Nadal/anyone-but-Djokovic-on-clay matches: it feels more like a foregone execution than a competition.

  3. Ms Curious
    Ms Curious June 7, 2013 at 2:36 am |

    I’ve really enjoyed this series of articles, thank you.

    I do miss the match predictions that you guys ran earlier in the year, will they make a return sometime soon?

  4. Joshua
    Joshua June 7, 2013 at 5:31 am |

    Regarding Errani: I feel like a lot of commentators have chalked her success up to weak draws, and that may be true to some extent (but now she’s a top five player so she’s SUPPOSED to have at least a weak start to her draw!), especially at last year’s US Open. But I was just peaking back at her road to the final last year and her R32-SF wins were over the following players: Ivanovic (former champion, 13 seed), Kuznetsova (former champion), Kerber (10 seed) and Stosur (6 seed, former finalist, US Open champ), that’s not quite the murderers row Stosur plowed through on the way to her final (who beat Henin, S. Williams and Jankovic to make the final) but it’s a pretty solid line-up. I have to imagine that she was not the favorite in any of those matches. Her ability to beat quality opponents, given the obvious shortcomings in her serve and power game, is pretty darned impressive if you ask me.

  5. RZ
    RZ June 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

    I agree that the grunting gripes is a tired conversation, but it persists because the tours have refused to do anything about it (well the WTA is working with juniors, but that’s taking the easy way out).

    1. Amy
      Amy June 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm |

      In how many WTA matches is this actually an issue, though? Very few, by my count. Vika-Maria is the most egregious example, but there really aren’t that many. The problem seems very overblown to me.

  6. Max
    Max June 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

    It’s really a shame that both the WTA and the ATP have lost control over the players.
    Grunting and time wasting = cheating and should be deal it it ASAP.

    Telling nine years old to be quiet isn’t enough.

    1. Amy
      Amy June 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm |

      Max, I replied similarly above, but I don’t really see that it’s as big of an issue as people make it out to be. There aren’t that many examples of ridiculous grunting if you put this particular match-up aside.

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