Things We Learned on Day Eight of the French Open


1. Roger Federer’s fourth round match against Gilles Simon was a bizarre affair. After cruising through the first set, Federer took a tumble on the clay, seeming to twist an ankle or perhaps tweak something in his wrist (he was shaking it out after the fall). From that point on, Federer seemed to lose his game entirely for two sets. Simon played fairly well, but Federer was shanking forehands and backhands and looked completely “off.” I don’t think Federer had any real injury, but whatever happened in that fall seemed to shake his concentration or confidence.

Following a short break before the fourth set, Federer seemed to regain his focus, coming back from two-sets-to-one down to win the match in five sets.

Per the Roland Garros website:

“I didn’t hurt myself [with the stumble],” said Federer. “But maybe I did lose that touch of confidence, and I was out of the match for a bit. I’m happy I found a way and was able to tidy up my play. Stayed calm under pressure. It’s always fun being part of matches like this. I think I will look back on the 36 quarterfinals and say it was incredible, because it wasn’t just a one-week or one-year thing. I had to fight through matches like this one. It’s an amazing run, and I’m happy I’m still on it.

Interestingly enough, despite all the twists and turns, this five-setter clocked in under three hours. Hopefully Federer and Tsonga will both be fresh enough for their quarterfinal match to conjure up the same brand of excellent tennis they played against each other at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Oh, and this happened after the match:

2. I guess the Fedwrinka bromance is back on.

3. What can you even say about Tommy Robredo’s run here? I’ll let him speak for himself, via Reuters:

“It’s funny, because the last three, four years I couldn’t even run that much,” Robredo, who needed surgery to repair his continually-tearing left hamstring last year, told reporters. “And I love to run.

“Before the match I was tired, I was in pain everywhere and I was hoping to try and win the first set because if not I knew it was going to be tough for me,” he added. “But I lost the first, I lost the second, and I had pain in my arm and couldn’t even hold the racket a couple of games.

“Then suddenly I recovered. He was 4‑1‑up (in the third). Maybe he had a little bit of doubt at that moment. Then I just pushed hard and I won the third. Then I was just dreaming and dreaming to try to do it again, and I did it.”

Former world number five Robredo, who faces another formidable Spaniard next in the form of fourth seed David Ferrer, said he “couldn’t care less” about emulating Cochet but was emotional because of his recent injury woes.

“I’m not thinking about history,” he said. “I have been crying a lot lately. Today my emotions were so strong they were overpowering. To come up against Nico and turn it around, that was incredible. I’m so happy.”

4. I can’t wait to see the Serena Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova quarterfinal. It could be Serena’s first real test. That was the match I was hoping for when I first looked at the draw, and I’m excited we got it.

Juan José:

1. Nicolás Almagro seems destined to torture his fans (and himself) for the rest of his career. The man from Murcia exited a Slam for the second consecutive Slam after 1) losing to a Spaniard and 2) doing so after holding a two set and a break lead. That’s remarkable, but Almagro didn’t stop there: while in Melbourne he lost his huge lead against a man he’d never beaten (David Ferrer), today Almagro lost his substantial lead (and then break advantages in sets 4 and 5) to a man he’d never lost to before (Tommy Robredo). That’s one special talent for heartbreaking defeats.

Why does this keep happening to a man so blessed with natural ball-striking ability? His confidence and focus waver, he’s a near zero in transition tennis, and he has to be one of the most tactically undisciplined players anywhere. But beyond the Xs and Os … the answer resides somewhere in Almagro’s head. Only he can reach it, though.

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova is about to let us know if she’s going to pull a Sveta Slam or not. The former Rolly G champion took down eighth seed Angelique Kerber today, and while her journey to the second week has been mostly under the radar, she can’t hide anymore: Kuznetsova is due to face ultra-favorite Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. The last time they played at the French open was 2009 … in the quarterfinals. The winner? Kuznetsova, 7-5 in the third.

Interestingly enough, these two haven’t met since that year, which was a long time ago. Can’t wait for Tuesday.

3. Jo-Willy Tsonga seems to be playing at a very high level. He dismissed Viktor Troicki without much drama, and he’s made it to the quarterfinals of this year’s event without dropping a set. Last year Jo played well enough to beat eventual finalist Novak Djokovic: had he taken any of the four match points he had in the pair’s quarterfinal match, few would’ve argued his win wasn’t well deserved.

Jo now has a golden opportunity to make the French Open semis (and maybe go further) should he overcome Roger Federer, who was taken to five sets by Gilles Simon today. Not only that, but Tsonga can also exact some revenge on Federer for his five-set defeat at this year’s Australian Open. It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to this match: Chatrier seemed to remember Gilles Simon was French far too late in today’s match.

4. Carla Suárez Navarro might have already reached her ceiling. I still remember watching her beat Venus Williams at the Australian Open so many years ago. It seemed like she was going to keep climbing up the rankings and maybe join the elite. That was 2009, and CSN finished the year ranked at No. 34. Care to guess her year-end ranking in 2012? 34. She’s now at No. 20, which is commendable, but it doesn’t seem like she’ll be getting much higher than that. Today Carla had a golden chance to get a signature win: Sara Errani was struggling with her breathing during the first set of their match. Taking out the World No. 5 would’ve been huge, and Suárez Navarro even had a set and a break lead at 4-2 in the second set. However, that vanished as Errani overcame her physical issues and won 10 straight games, and eventually the match.

One thing that has worried me about Carla is whether she’s mentally strong enough to succeed at the highest level, and whether she sees herself among the game’s best. So far it’s been disappointing to see her fail to get her hands on a WTA title: she’s 0 and 5 in finals.

I hope something clicks inside her before it’s too late. She’ll turn 25 this year, and many pros have had much success in their late twenties. I hope she does, because Carla is fun to watch.

5. NBC is definitely trying hard to be the worst broadcaster in tennis. Here’s today’s episode: like yesterday, the Tennis Channel’s streams died just as NBC’s coverage window started. Does NBC provide streams of their own? Nope. Do they show other matches on their cable sports network? Nah. I was watching Jerzy Janowicz and Tomasz Bednarek try to overcome Potito Starace and Paolo Lorenzi in a very entertaining doubles match. What were the odds that NBC would show (indeed, mention) that doubles match? Zero, right? So why kill off the streams? (Or, why not carry the streams yourself?)

Regardless, NBC saved their worst for later. After Federer overcame Gilles Simon in five sets, most sane people assumed NBC would switch to Suzanne Lenglen, where World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska was facing off against 2008 Rolly G champion Ana Ivanovic. After all, NBC’s coverage window still had plenty of time to go. But surprise, surprise, NBC did not do such a thing. The network proceeded to show Serena Williams’ 1 and 3 trashing of Roberta Vinci from earlier.

To recap: NBC killed off all the streams, and when there was live tennis to be shown (featuring two prominent WTA stars), they preferred to show a match that had already happened. Did they use their cable sports network to show the live match? Of course not. Did they use their website to stream said live match? Nope.

This was a complete disaster, and a significant part of the blame has to go to Roland Garros itself. They’re the ones who not only tolerate this crap, but extended their partnership with NBC through 2024. The only thing I can say is that if you’re unhappy with NBC, let them (and Roland Garros) know by at least tagging them in your tweets. They have to know that this is not good enough, or indeed acceptable. NBC has the resources to make this right, and they’re simply not choosing to use them. And it has to stop.


1. Weddings are exhausting but amazing. I had a fabulous time spending the last two days with my high school friends in North Carolina and celebrating the marriage of a close friend. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as seeing your friends happy both personally and professionally, and it was a great excuse to have a reunion.

That being said, I am happy to get back to my normal tennis and writing schedule tomorrow. I have missed so many classic French Open moments this weekend that I feel like I am going to be playing catch-up the rest of the tournament! I need to find watch all of the Isner/Haas/Monfils/Robredo/Schiavone/Hampton highlights. Anyone have 10 hours they can give me?

2. I couldn’t agree more with what Juan José said about NBC. As I said on Twitter, there is no excuse for broadcasters not to make live events a priority, or at the very least available, in 2013. It continues to enforce the “star problem” that tennis has–putting all the monetary hopes and dreams on the backs of the already-established stars such as Federer and Serena, while leaving the rest of the tours as nameless and faceless opponents.

If you can’t get people interested in a former champion trying to make it back to the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time since her title and the No. 4 player in the world trying to get to her first-ever French Open quarterfinal, then you’re just not trying at all. The thing is that the networks end up losing out in the end, because inevitably Serena and Federer and Nadal and Sharapova won’t always be there, and then they’re going to be left with a bunch of great players that the viewers have never been introduced to.

It’s sad, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

3. I cannot get over Tommy Robredo. There are no words. He’s just phenomenal. I cried right along with him today after his win, which I admittedly only saw the final set of. Gosh, I love tennis.

4. It was fun to see glimpses of 2008 Gilles Simon today, playing short and somewhat aggressive points against Federer. I forgot that I used to really enjoy watching him play tennis.

5. Aga Radwanksa is into the quarterfinals of the French Open! I’m so excited. She played such a smart match against Ivanovic today, and this shot is pretty much every reason I love her:

It’s amazing what happens when you don’t play the week before an event. Even though this decision wasn’t on purpose–she was nursing a hurt shoulder–it has paid off, and I hope she has learned from it.

6. Ivanovic’s comments after her loss to Radwanska were insanely troubling and bizarre, almost to a comical level:

“I’m definitely more complete,” she said when asked if she was better now than when she lifted the trophy. “It’s obviously different competition. I think at the time I had probably more confidence at a higher level.”

“I actually think we were closer than maybe the score indicates,” the current world number 14 added. “I think it was maybe my serve. If you lose yours against her you have to win points over and over again.”

By all accounts, Ivanovic is a thoughtful, introspective, and lovely girl who loves to read and talk about psychology. But when she says stuff like that it’s really hard to take her seriously. She is not at all a better player than she was in 2008, and the match today was not even as close as the scoreline looked. What good does sugar-coating things do? It seems like it’s beyond time to re-think her infamous “process.”

7. 900 wins. Holy shit.

7 Responses

  1. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne June 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

    “However, that vanished as Errani overcame her physical issues and won 10 straight games, and eventually the match.”

    Errani won several games in a row (four in the second set alone), but CSN won three games in the third set.

  2. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne June 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

    As for NBC, they’re entire programming dept is teetering on the precipice every week, and I’m sure they’re only worried about *this* week’s ratings, because the people calling the shots know they won’t be there when Roger and Rafa and Serena retire if they don’t produce better ratings now.

    It’s good old American short-term corporate thinking at its most depressing.

    In that world, you’re only as good as your next quarterly report, and investing in the future (by trying to promote some youngish foreign tennis players with a low Q rating) is a fool’s errand.

    1. Patrick of La Verne
      Patrick of La Verne June 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

      As for NBC *their* Sheesh!

  3. oracle86
    oracle86 June 3, 2013 at 2:24 am |

    Damn, was hoping you guys would post a GIF of the round-the-post shot that’s better than the one currently doing the rounds on the interwebs…

  4. RZ
    RZ June 3, 2013 at 2:59 am |

    NBC sports coverage overall is terrible. I’m a big proponent of using the #NBCfail hashtag on Twitter, though NBC doesn’t seem to care. Emailing Roland Garros seems like an excellent strategy. I know a bunch of people emailed the AELTC last year when there was talk of renewing with NBC or going to ESPN. I’d like to think that their emails helped.

  5. jeu nadal
    jeu nadal June 3, 2013 at 4:27 am |

    I waited in anticipation for the Aga-Ana match and got nothing. NBC stands for Not Broadcasting Crap

  6. RZ
    RZ June 3, 2013 at 8:39 am |

    This website is really useful for those of us who want to watch live tennis:

Comments are closed.