Thursday, May 26, 2011

Roland Garros: No Kim Slam!

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The 2011 French Open has quietly moved on to the third round and like any tournament it has had it's shock and awe moments.

Here are some odds and ends--

1) The biggest shocker (by far) has occurred on the women's side in the second round. World No. 2 Kim Clijsters was stunned by unseeded and virtual unknown Aranxta Rus (3-6, 7-5, 6-1). Clijsters, who was going for her 3rd consecutive Grand Slam title, for some strange reason just completely fell apart in the third set. After the match she said, "I started doubting a little bit. When you start doubting yourself on any surface, but for me definitely on clay, it’s the wrong attitude to have.” Clijsters also said her injured ankle was perfectly fine and injuries had nothing to do with it. So was this just a once-in-a-lifetime lucky moment for the 20-year old Rus or is she a future star in the making?

2)Everyone is asking-- What's wrong with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal? Nadal has moved on to the third round but his first two matches (by his standards) have been somewhat bumpy. In the first round John Isner became the first human to take Rafa to 5 sets at Roland Garros. Rafa would eventually win the match (6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4) but Isner made quite a name for himself by taking the 5-time champion to the brink for the first time ever. In the second round, journeyman Pablo Andujar also played Rafa tough in a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 loss. I guess when you're the closest thing to perfect any little bump on the road would make people scratch their heads and ask questions but, nonetheless, Rafa is in the third round and as it stands has a 40-1 record at Roland Garros for his career. 40-1? Mind-boggling, but true.

3) No. 10 Mardy Fish, yes Mardy Fish, is the lone American male to advance to the third round. On the women's side, unseeded Vania King and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are the only American women in the third round. What can I say? It's no secret that U.S. tennis is in the doldrums with a gloomy future ahead.

And last but most definitely not least--

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4) The best match of the early rounds has come to fruition as World No. 2 Novak Djokovic takes on former World No. 4 and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. Del Potro is seeded 25th but this is perhaps the most deceiving 25th seed in tennis history. Del Potro, who lost his standings in the rankings due to his absence after a devastating wrist injury, is no slouch on clay as his 10-1 record in 2011 speaks for itself. Djokovic, however, is the favorite (and rightly so) in this match but it wouldn't surprise me if del Potro gives him a run for his money. All the pressure is on Djokovic who has a perfect 39-0 record in 2011 to preserve and is seeking to take over the No. 1 ranking from Nadal. For del Potro, 2011 is just a comeback year as he tries to move down the rankings and back into the Top 10. Win or lose, by reaching the third round, he will more than likely move up 4 or 5 spots and inch closer to the Top 20. So there's no pressure on del Potro which is definitely a good thing. And if the 22-year old Argentine is fully healthy and if his serve is at full strength, this match could get interesting. And I mean, very, very interesting. We'll see....

To be continued....

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