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Roland Garros 2006 thus far June 6, 2006

Posted by ramanand in Ramanand, Tennis.

So far, the French Open this year has been your average engrossing Grand Slam right from the injury-affected draw, the slogfests that seem to take as long as making a claymation film, the orange of the courts and the blue-black of the skies. But it remains with a hint of the magic to come, which we will also return to in a while in this post. Before that, a look at the support cast.

The Women's draw this time was affected by injuries to some of the former No. 1s, but it is a sign of the current depth in the women's game that despite that and the knocking out of the current top player and the holder of the first Grand Slam of the year, we still have 4 former #1s in Hingis, Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne and Venus Williams to slug it out with the remaining Russians (who continue to flood the draw) and some new faces. Hingis has been patchy but on a high after winning Rome while Henin-Hardenne has had the least trouble on the pathway to her title defence.

The best match that I have seen in this year's Open was the Russian cat-fight between Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina. Safina, who has had an excellent run leading into Paris, matched the beauty-ova in her relentless efforts of dishing out muscular winners, which meant a match pockmarked with errors and studded with winners from improbable angles. Nerves ultimately had the say in trading of sets, but the spectacular comeback from Safina in this battle that clearly had a semi-visible edge to it made it the match of the tournament so far.

The men's draw soon saw the 5-setters that in another day and city would be considered noteworthy, but in Paris are merely par for the course. What keeps the additional interest alive is that Nadal and Federer are as on date still heading for that salivating clash. For a long while now, the only matter of intrigue in Federer's career has been that missing bullet point of a French title in the resumé. And for not making it a foregone conclusion, we have to thank the other modern-day record setter. Rafael Nadal's astonishing run of clay-court wins has included a couple of run-ins from Federer which were very tight affairs. So it will be no surprise to anybody that if the 11th of June does not see Raf and Fed warming up, there will be a bunch of very disappointed tennis-watchers.

Both champions have had fairly easy runs to the quarters, though Nadal has had to demonstrate more of his weapons than Federer. The Swiss fortuitously faced two lucky losers in his 1st two matches, of which, the fact that the second was a left-hander sent the commentators into raptures and treat this as a chance for Federer to work out his southpaw strategy. Though the broadcasters have been careful not to jump the gun, the undertones give it all away, for it's been a while since a tantalising matchup of this quality presented itself. Unfortunately, Nadal's overwhelming claycourt game makes it difficult for him to translate his successes to other surfaces at the moment, so the scary question is: if Federer wins, what will we do for the next couple of years?

As a closing note, what are the odds on a Swiss double this year? Difficult, but not improbable. 



1. Salil - June 6, 2006

My bet is on Nadal. His match against Hewitt was the best I saw in this tourno.
Check out his blog: http://www.atptennis.com/en/blog/nadal1.asp

2. Ramanand - June 6, 2006

Thanks for the link Salil. Initially I wondered if it was ghosted as it was in v. good English, but noticed that Nadal mentioned in an earlier post that he writes it in Spanish and someone from the website translates it. It’s information to read some of the details of preparation.

3. Ramanand - June 6, 2006

I meant “informative” not “information” 🙂

4. The Piker - June 6, 2006

On second thoughts Nadal is probably the only clay court ‘specialist’ (if I may call it) to have done the best on other surfaces in the last decade or so. Gustavo Kuerten was the God of clay at one stage, but he didn’t cut it as well as Nadal has on other surfaces. Most Spaniards and French players spoon-fed on clay screw up on other surfaces, but according to me Nadal has real potential to do it on other suraces. He is definitely greatness material, though time and a certain Roger Federer will tell us better.

5. Tadatmya - June 8, 2006

RG has become interesting in a way…just read on the official site that with Ljubicic entering the semis, this is the first time since 1985 that the top 4 seeds have entered the semis. That gives us an idea of the one- and two-timers (pun not intended) that have dominated the men’s French Open. The 4 guys in 1985 were McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, and Wilander.

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