Things We Learned on Day 11 of the French Open


1. Unfortunately, the men’s quarterfinals were basically duds. All four matches were decided in straight sets. I was hoping for better. That’s not to say there was no good tennis played in those matches, but there was zero suspense. Hopefully the semifinals will be more interesting. Both match-ups–Ferrer vs. Tsonga and Djokovic vs. Nadal–are enticing.

2. When the new rankings come out, Tommy Haas will be ranked No. 11 in the world. That’s amazing. He even has a credible chance to qualify for the World Tour Finals, should he continue to play as well as he has been. How great would that be?

3. This is a bit ridiculous:

I received a similar response from the ITF when I got in touch with them regarding their investigation of Luis Garcia del Moral, the doctor implicated in the Lance Armstrong scandal, who also worked with Sara Errani and other tennis players. I’ve given up on the ITF revealing anything about their findings in either matter.

4. Jankovic was in fine form today not only with her tennis, but also with her swearing, apparently:

Juan José

1. I missed watching Jelena Jankovic play tennis well. I’ve always thought that her unique ability to change direction of the ball at will off both wings should’ve been the cornerstone of her game, not her ill-fated attempt at getting more power on her shots. For a set and change, Jelena reminded us how she became the World No.1 at one point in time. Then there was drama, there were histrionics, and Maria Sharapova walked away the victor, as she’s done in all but one of their nine matches.

Maria Sharapova did a great job of staying with it despite her horrorshow first set: she went from 20 unforced errors in Set 1 to “just” 10 in Set 2. Crucially, Jankovic went in the opposite direction with her miscues: she had four unforced errors in the first set, and more than doubled that to nine in the second. Anyway, once Sharapova got going, it was hard to see a different outcome than the one we ended up having. But again, it’s been nice to see Jankovic do her thing on a big stage. That’s where she belongs.

2. It’s never a good thing to be on edge for a big match. That’s what Tommy Haas has been struggling to learn for the entirety of his career; when he’s calm and relaxed, his gorgeous tennis flows effortlessly. When he’s tight as a drum and giving in to any possible source of frustration, he can’t get out of his own way. Today against the World No. 1, Tommy started to monologue in German early in the first set. That’s when I knew that he’d have a difficult afternoon on Suzanne Lenglen. As the match developed, more self-abuse and self-sarcasm came out of Haas’ corner.

What has to be upsetting for Haas is that Djokovic didn’t play a particularly great match himself. The Monte-Carlo champion seemed to be struggling to get a good read on Haas’ first serve, and while he created numerous 15-30 half chances on Haas’s serve, he didn’t capitalize on most of them. Djokovic is trying his best to keep his focus in check, but no one can blame him if his mind wanders due to the recent loss he experienced.

3. There have to be few things more deflating than breaking back to force a tiebreaker … only to get routed in said tiebreaker. That’s the thought that came to mind after Maria Kirilenko played an impressive return game to force a first set breaker against Victoria Azarenka today, only to fall behind early in said breaker. She lost it 7-3, and the 6-2 score in the second set can probably be traced to the disappointment of losing that first set she fought so hard to stay in (also, Kirilenko’s back was bothering her, so she probably felt she had to get the job done in straight sets).

4. Stan Wawrinka’s head-to-head against Rafael Nadal might be the worst in tennis. The Swiss is now 0-10 against the Spaniard, with the added “bonus” of never winning a single set of tennis in those ten matches (which include 22 sets, in case you were wondering). Sure, Federer holds dominating H2Hs vs Ferrer, Nieminen, and Youzhny, but that trio has taken several sets off the 17-time Major champ. This is why I think Stan’s H2H vs Nadal has to be the worst one among active players.

Why is it so nightmarish? It’s just a bad match-up for Stan in almost every possible way. Nadal feasts on his court positioning and forces him to defend (not a strength for Stan) from the get-go. Add to that Nadal’s ability to read Stan’s serve very well, and Wawrinka’s almost complete inability to consistently produce good returns off Nadal’s serve. Of course, Stan played a heck of a lot more tennis than Nadal in the fourth round, and he’s been struggling with a muscular issue in one of his legs since Madrid. All of the above explain today’s drubbing, with the final thought being that Nadal showed flashes of his usual clay brilliance along the way.

5. I can go through one of these posts without blasting the tennis broadcasters in the US! Today I watched everything on, and not only did I enjoy great picture quality, but I saw everything I wanted without issue. And lest we forget … without commentary! A pure tennis experience.

Now, of course, a lot of people in the largest market for the sport of tennis are wondering if they’ll be able to see one of the most anticipated matches in recent times, Nadal-Djokovic XXXV, LIVE. As absurd as that sounds. Hopefully, the trio of broadcasters in charge of the French Open do the right thing and figure out a way that doesn’t involve US tennis fans getting screwed.


1. Tennis is just more fun when Jelena Jankovic plays well, and I’m thrilled that she is back doing damage and making it deep into draws. She was simply sublime in the first set against Sharapova, and she didn’t stop competing until the last point.

Things will never be straightforward with JJ, but that’s what makes her so wonderful. I hope she continues this upward trend.

2. I’m just trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Maria Kirilenko is a top 10 player. You guys, that is a huge deal for a player who many had written off as an underachiever years ago. As she’s gotten more comfortable in the spotlight and we’ve seen more and more of her personality shine through, I’ve really come to like her on and off the court. Her game isn’t the most exciting around, but there’s something rewarding about watching someone live up to their potential.

Plus, she’s adorable.

3. Just going to leave this here.

4. Haas and Wawrinka showed some spunk in defeat. There’s always room for that:

5. I could not be more excited for Azarenka/Sharapova tomorrow. Their U.S. Open semifinal was wonderful, and I think since Sharapova has a slight edge on clay and Azarenka has a slight edge in the match-up, this will be a blockbuster.

6. I’m already getting sad that we’re so close to the end of the French Open. Who have I become?

4 Responses

  1. MattV
    MattV June 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

    Jankovic also had bouts of “Stupid stupid girl” and various other more graphic swearwords. To be fair, a large part of them were directed at herself…But the long limbed stork comment cracked me up 🙂

    Credit to Wawvrinka for fighting even though the end result was immediately obvious…and to Haas for also remaining competitive till the very end – the top 20 (10?!) are much richer with them in it.

    I had no idea Kirlienko was this charming and likable – kudos to her for being so open and genuine in the far more competitive WTA

  2. Jewell
    Jewell June 6, 2013 at 1:14 am |

    We also learned that Rafa or Novak will only have to play six matches to be crowned French Open champion – their SF being the “real” final.


    1. AK
      AK June 6, 2013 at 5:12 am |

      I wouldn’t discount Tsonga – he’s in rare form, and has proven to be quite troublesome for both Nadal and Djokovic when he’s sufficiently inspired.

  3. badambadum
    badambadum June 6, 2013 at 8:23 am |

    Actually Jankovic also yelled “cow” at some point. Wonder if it was a provocation of Masha, who used to refer to herself as “cow on ice”.

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