Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roland Garros: Rafa Keeps Rolling

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World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and World No. 4 Andy Murray have held serve and are in the semifinals at the French Open. With World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and World No. 3 Roger Federer playing in the other semifinal, it means the Top 4 men have all held serve and are right where their seedings indicate they should be.

Nadal ousted 2-time runner-up and World No. 5 Robin Soderling in straight sets (6-4, 6-1, 7-6) to improve his record at Roland Garros to an astonishing 43-1. His only loss was to Soderling in the 4th round in 2009 when he was not playing 100% healthy. Since that loss he has defeated Soderling twice in straight sets, in last year's final and now at the quarterfinals. Legend has it that Rafa never forgets, just ask Soderling.

As for Murray, he defeated the unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela (7-6, 7-5, 6-2) in another tough match for Murray. No doubt Murray's trip to the semis has been brutal as he also had very tough matches in the second round (7-6, 6-4, 7-5 over unseeded Simone Bolelli) and in the 4th round (4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 over No. 15 Viktor Troicki). So the question is-- how much does Murray, who hurt his right ankle in the third round, have left in the tank?

And he's going to need a FULL tank against Rafa, that's for sure. Make that a FULL, FULL, FULL TANK.

On the women's side it was a totally different story. No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 are all OUT!

So it'll be defending champion and World No. 5 Francesca Schiavone vs. No. 11 Marion Bartoli in one semifinal match and No. 7 Na Li vs. No. 8 Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal match.

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And all 4 ladies are great stories in their own right. Schiavone, who already is the first Italian woman to ever win the title, is looking to become a back-to-back champion. Bartoli is looking to win her first-ever Grand Slam title and become the first French woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win the home grand slam. Na Li, who already has taken China to places it's never been before in tennis, is looking to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam final and hopefully win her first title in the process after losing the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters. And last but not least, Maria Sharapova is looking to complete the Career Grand Slam as she already has won Wimbledon (2004), the U.S. Open (2006) and the Australian Open (2008) during her illustrious career.

To be continued....