Things We Learned on Days 13 & 14 of the 2015 French Open


1. Serena Williams might be on the path to another Serena slam

I don’t know about you, but I think 20 slam titles is a fairly impressive feat.

I also think that Steffi Graf’s 22 titles is a record that Serena is almost certain to match, and exceed. Williams had a tough old tournament in Paris – aside from suffering from the flu, particularly in her semi-final match against Timea Bacsinszky, she also dropped a set in five out of her seven matches. It was not a rollover tournament for the world no.1 by any means, but she toughed it out and emerged the victor.

I know we should be celebrating THIS victory right now but I have to confess that my head has jumped straight to Wimbledon for Williams now – she already holds the US Open, Australian Open and now the French. If she wins Wimbledon she’ll hold all four slams for the second time in her career and she’ll be on track for that elusive calendar Grand Slam. It feels possible…but you never really know.

When Serena dropped the second set today in dramatic fashion I really believed this title might be slipping through her fingers. I would have still bet on her, but I didn’t feel confident…how wrong that feeling was. She RACED away with that third set after falling to 0-2.

Also, she’s clearly been watching too many Andy Murray matches because f**k was the word of the day. Except Serena actually got a code violation for it, which Andy never does.

Serena wins Roland Garros, 6-3 6-7 6-2

2. Lucie Safarova has a lot to be proud of

As Williams ran away with the first set of the women’s final I was worried that Safarova was going to have a sad end to her fantastic tournament in Paris. Ultimately though, while she’ll be disappointed she couldn’t leave with the trophy, she made it much more of a match than it initially looked like she’d be able to.

In the second set Safarova played like a woman whose shackles had just been removed: where in the first set she looked nervy, slow to react, passive, in the second set she played exciting and aggressive tennis that must have surprised her far more experienced opponent.

I’m not sure that Safarova will have another shot in a slam final, although her new ranking of no.7 on Monday ought to help her chances. She’s known for struggling to close out a win on a big stage, even on a small stage, even though her talent is good enough to compete with the best. I would hope that this experience has taught her that she can be a competitor in these moments. Hopefully she can play steadier in the future and get another chance.

OH WAIT, she does have another chance, because tomorrow she and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will compete together in the Women’s Doubles final.

This week has been fantastic for Safarova, and she was a worthy singles finalist.

3. Andy Murray is in great form…Novak Djokovic is in greater form

With their match delayed yesterday at 3-3 in the fourth set, Murray and Djokovic both came onto court today looking fired up. It took several games before any service points were lost, and the quality of the rallying for the remainder of the fourth set was ludicrous. Andy Murray was particularly great, playing some of the best tennis of his career to stick in heartbreakingly long rallies which he was able to come through more often than his opponent. This entire clay season Murray has looked relaxed, his game flowing, which is an exciting preview for his ever-essential grass season at home in the UK.

Novak Djokovic is, however, the best player in the world. Although he couldn’t come through that fourth set, he stormed the fifth and deciding set with the relative ease that a man of his talents can produce. Murray’s form dropped a little, sure, but Djokovic wasn’t playing the best tennis he can play because, a lot of the time, he doesn’t need to do so in order to win. It was a reminder of how dominant he has been for more than half a year at this point – he is on a mission and I’m not sure who can stop him.

Nerves, perhaps, could play a part in tomorrow’s final. After all, Djokovic is pursuing the last slam that has evaded him. He’ll be hoping his opponent doesn’t take advantage.

Novak through, 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1.

4. Marion Bartoli: selfie police

Aside from being a generally delightful Wimbledon champion and commentary GOAT, Marion Bartoli is also really great at taking a snap at just the right time:

I couldn’t agree with the following analysis of post-career Bartoli more:


1. Serena Williams is incredible.

Sometimes I feel like it does athletes a disservice to describe them as “superhuman,” because it somehow takes away from their accomplishments, suggesting they have superpowers. But it’s also just hard to comprehend just exactly how Serena is doing what she is doing.

As I wrote for Bleacher Report, I truly think the Serena we are seeing now is Peak Serena. And at 33, that’s just incomprehensible.

Plus, OMG I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. I love chaos on the WTA and I love random winners, but THIS would be amazing:

2. Smile, Lucie.

I’m working on a piece about Safarova’s performance today, so I’m going to be selfish and save some words, but it was wonderful to see her step up when Serena faltered a bit.

She’s lovely, and her tennis is phenomenal, and I hope that this is not her last time on the biggest stage in tennis.

3. Oh Jo.

It feels like a lifetime ago, but just yesterday, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga failed to come up with the goods against Wawrinka in the men’s semis. It’s hard to imagine that Tsonga will have another chance like that to make it to the French Open final, as erratic as he can be.

Don’t get me wrong–Wawrinka is a more than deserving finalist–but Jo’s atrocious 1/17 break-point conversion rate was the story of the day for me.

It reminds me of this quote from earlier in the event, which I don’t think I ever included in a TWL:

4. I enjoyed a focused Murray and Djokovic.

The sense of urgency at the end of that Djokovic/Murray fourth set produced some phenomenal tennis, particularly from a ROARING Anndddeeeehhh Murraaaaiiiyy. He actually had me thinking for a second that Djokovic could maybe be in trouble.


As he has a habit of doing, Brian Phillips perfectly summed up what I should have been thinking after Murray took that fourth set:


Throughout the French Open, I watched live tennis broadcast on four different channels in my cable package that I pay too much money for: NBC, ESPN2, Tennis Channel, and NBC Sports Network. And yet, when it was time for the men’s doubles final, featuring the BRYAN BROTHERS of all people, it was nowhere to be found.

That. Is. Absurd.


One Response

  1. Perry
    Perry June 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm |

    It’s no accident that Serena is hailed as one of the greatest womens tennis player

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