1. Sam Stosur looked really good in the little bit of her match I got to see today vs. Kristina Mladenovic. The two-time Roland Garros semifinalist and 2010 finalist is flying under-the-radar this year, a condition that is usually the most conducive for her success.
2. The much-hyped Grigor Dimitrov finally made the third round of a slam! His reward? Facing Novak Djokovic in the third round. Hopefully he can make things interesting.
3. Bethanie Mattek-Sands played some unbelievable tennis today. She was blasting winners into all corners of the court in the final set vs. Li Na. I don’t think anyone could’ve beaten her in that mode. She’s had so many problems with injuries and inconsistency, but I’ve always thought that she’s one of the most fun players to watch when she’s “in the zone.” She hit two consecutive return winners off of Li’s first serve to break for 5-0! It was amazing.
4. Andy Murray is on the cover of British GQ this month. I thought his comments on a dream he had in the aftermath of losing the Wimbledon final were interesting:
“I remember having won the final, holding the trophy in my hands, the feeling that I was the champion… then waking up and realising instantly it was a dream. And even though I knew straight away that it hadn’t been real, I have to say I was really, really disappointed all over again.”
“When I had that dream, it was on the morning of my first day back on the practice court before the Olympics. And it actually gave me the motivation to train harder and to train better. From then on, I was just playing the best tennis I had ever played. I knew it in practice; I felt it every time I hit a ball, and it was the first time I had responded to a grand slam defeat so positively.”
1. I am not to be trusted. In a rather perfect follow-up to my “Tomas Berdych will make the Roland Garros final” pre-tournament prediction, my pick for the women’s title, World No. 6 Li Na, went down in a heap of flames to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in their second round match today. To make it even more emphatic, Mattek-Sands served for a third set bagel over the former French Open champ (baked goods were avoided … but not by much). The American played very well, there’s no doubt about that. But to say more was expected from a former champ (in the Year of Li Na, no less), would be an understatement. Plus, in the last meeting between the two ladies, Li Na ended Mattek-Sands’ impressive run to the Stuttgart semis in rather straightforward fashion.
Maybe Li Na is not handling the pressure that comes with knowing she could do really well on the clay: after all, she’s won only two matches since her run to the Stuttgart final (China’s No. 1 lost to Madison Keys in the Madrid first round and fell to Jelena Jankovic in the second round of Rome). It’s interesting to note that while Li Na’s first three losses of the season were to the top 3-ranked women in the sport, the last three have been to people ranked far below her. Regardless, I’m now a firm non-believer in the Year of Li Na. To me, it looks more and more like “The First Trimester of Li Na.”
2. Not having a roof at a slam really sucks. But we all know this, right? The weather wreaked havoc with today’s slate of matches, and plenty of them had to be canceled. Rafael Nadal was surely fuming, as he and Martin Klizan completed their pre-match warmup only to be whisked away from the court before the first point was played. What’s worse, Nadal (or Klizan) will have to play on consecutive days, while his potential third round opponent (Fabio Fognini) did manage to get his match in today.
As we know, Roland Garros is still about five years away from maybe having a roof (and that “maybe” is far from becoming a “surely” – the expansion of the grounds is still mired in uncertainty). Hence, there’s not much any of us can do about it except hopelessly kvetch. But what is becoming quite evident is that these rain stoppages really hurt the TV product: reruns of blowouts (the preferred rainy day filler used by networks all over the world) will never be a good advert for the sport. The ITF should make sure that the crown jewels of tennis at least have one covered court – it seems like a standard requirement in the 21st century. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask of the wealthiest and most powerful tennis tournaments on planet earth still without one. Yes, I’m looking at you, too, US Open.
3. Garbiñe Muguruza can’t catch a break. The young Spaniard lost today to Jelena Jankovic by a lopsided score of 3-6, 0-6 (Muguruza was up 3-0 before surrendering the next nine games of the match). What’s even worse is that Muguruza was apparently sick with a virus: she said she felt feverish in the past two days. This is quite unfortunate, because there aren’t many more tournaments left for Garbiñe in 2013; it’s been reported that she’ll have to undergo surgery to fix a malformation in one of her ankles after Wimbledon. That procedure will keep her out of the circuit until 2014. As always, even the best laid plans can be derailed by injuries.
4. The good people at Uniqlo have a short memory. Novak Djokovic debuted his second kit for this year’s Roland Garros today in his drubbing of up-and-coming Argentine Guido Pella, and the navy blue ensemble looked to be only a slight variation of the 2012 US Open final kit. It’s still a solid outfit, but it gets zero points for originality. Here’s hoping that the light blue/light green kit comes back for round three.
5. I’ve caught the Benoit Paire bug. Today I was quite bummed out that the Court 1 stream wasn’t working on the Tennis Channel website (incidentally, I learned that the Tennis Channel Everywhere app works better than the website stream … and the channel itself, to be honest), which meant I couldn’t catch the end of Ben’s second round match against Lukasz Kubot.
I now fear for my mental health.
1. I learned that it’s tough to watch tennis when you’re with family — something that I have known before, but of course forgot the magnitude. I took an overnight bus from New York City to North Carolina last night–a high school friend is getting married on Saturday–and when I got to my mom’s house this morning she was THRILLED that there was a rain delay so she didn’t have to watch tennis with me. Seriously. Thrilled. It’s going to be a rough few days, as I sneak peaks at Twitter and livescores and possibly even the Tennis Channel app during the bridal luncheon tomorrow and the wedding on Saturday morning.
Then I’m going to make all my friends and family promise to never get married in the middle of a slam ever again. Because this doesn’t quite do it for me.
2. Tennis players, they’re just like us. This exchange made my morning:
@SaraErrani I see u are playing candy crush! What level are you on???
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 30, 2013
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 30, 2013
3. Juan José and Amy have already touched upon the story of the day, but I wanted to add in my two cents as well. I saw Bethanie play a lot in Charleston and got the chance to speak with her in press, and I could not have been more impressed with both her attitude and game.
I’ve always liked her. She has the attitude of the scrappy underdog, hiding in the shadows and without expectations but completely willing to fight her heart out anyways. She doesn’t have any huge weapons, but she makes up with it by playing really smart and assertive tennis, and often that’s all it takes to take out the top competitors when they’re having an off day.
She’s had bad luck in her career with injuries and health, and has always been known more for her on-court apparel than her tennis, but as she’s gotten older she has really come into her own both on and off the court. She still has that spunk and style, but she’s immersed it into her game in a way that is really effective.
I couldn’t even be sad to see Li Na fall today because it was such a pleasure to see Bethanie get the biggest win of her career after all she has been through. She’s a lot more than just socks and tattoos.