Thursday, June 01, 2017

French Open Day 4: A Good Day

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

The seeds just keep tumbling in the men's draw. Herbert/Mahut lost to Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson 7-6[8], 4-6, 6-3. Abigail Spears and Juan Sebastian Cabal just won the Australian Open mixed. They didn't lose a set. Did they get a seed here? No. They landed the top seeded Peers/Y.Chan and beat them 6-4, 6-2. The mixed doubles seeding system needs a revamp.

And we have big news in Dasha Gavrilova's corner of the world. She and A-Pavs beat out 4th seeded Sania Mirza and Yaroslava Shvedova. They won 7-6[5], 1-6, 6-2. It is a remarkable victory against a great team. [Ed.note: individually, yes... but together they've gone 2-4 this spring, and have lost three straight. I'm just sayin'. - tds]

The day started with a lot of raw emotion. Renzo Olivo had already served for the match the evening before, against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But he couldn't get over the line and, for no good reason, the umpire called the match in with the Frenchman on the brink. Tsonga comes out to serve down 4-5. And he makes three errors. Down 0-40, he strings together three immaculate points, all a combination of defense and offense. He saves them all, the last one with a swashbuckling smash. At deuce, he makes it four points in a row. But on game point Olivo stops the point...and the ball is out. Another Tsonga error. And then a spectacular match point is concluded with a flurry of blows which eventually see one last Olivo winner decide the match.

When a day starts like that you know it's going to be good.

Then we had the Stevie Johnson match. On match point, against Borna Coric he missed a volley and hit the ball in mild frustration. Totally innocent, nothing aggressive or malicious about it. But this is Roland Garros and a very poor piece of umpiring saw him docked a point. Eventually he got into a fourth set breaker. And, after saving several set points, he finally won it on a big forehand.

Whereupon he burst into tears at the net, as he mourned the death of his father. While he was having a Pete Sampras movement, Coric was smashing rackets and water bottles all over the place. It was the most incredible match.

And that isn't all. More seeds tumbled. There was more drama. Let's see what else happened. How did the big names fare?

Match to look forward to tomorrow: Andy Murray versus Martin Klizan. Klizan has already had a handshake incident, in the first round.

And I'm just going to leave this here. I agree with Martina.

MS 1st Rd: Lopez d. [q] Fratangelo {W}
MS 2nd Rd: Albert Ramos Vinolas d. Benjamin Bonzi {W}
MS 3rd Rd:
WS 1st Rd: Jankovic d. Hogenkamp {L}

...Rafa beat Haase 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. It wasn't even that close. Throughout the whole match the Netherlands star decided to sit back and refuse to be aggressive. This tactic never works against Nadal, not on any surface. And on clay? Well, then you're just asking for trouble. He gave Nadal an opportunity to dominate, to take control of the match. And Rafa was only too happy to do so. The tactics were all wrong and it crumbled from there on out. His forehand was effective but he was never able to use it consistently and effectively. He never even got to see a break point. But Nadal did break him five times. Impressive, no? Nadal hit 33 winners in the hour and 49 minute contest, and looked nigh on unstoppable. If he and Novak Djokovic do meet in the semi-final that could, and should, be the match of the year. Nadal is looking ominously good. It won't be long before he and a certain Russia lady are posing together. [Ed.note: watch it, now, you don't want to invoke The Curse.]
...Sousa had lost six matches in a row before Roland Garros. Another fun fact is that Andre Agassi's middle name is Kirk. Oh, and Ivo Karlovic's dad is a weatherman. Well, in today's whine and moan about the schedule, why was one defending champion on Chatrier, but not the other? The defending champions should both be on the top court. Every time. Especially if they're a top four seed. Anyway, this looked tougher on paper than it ever turned out to be, though it wasn't for want of trying. The Portuguese man pushed it over two hours, but apart from that it was a whitewash. The 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 scoreline is honestly generous. Nole was broken. He hit 24 errors and he won only 49 per cent of his second serve. Those are three areas upon which he can improve.
...Credit has to go to the Italian here. Despite losing in two and a half hours 7-5, 6-1, 6-3, he played hard the whole time. He led by a break in the first. He didn't even go away in the third set. No, Simone Bolelli hung on for as long as possible, denying Thiem the break for as long as he could. But the Austrian would not be denied and sealed it with an ace, called good on an overrule. It was not challenged by the Italian. He'd had enough. If you'd lost the winners battle by 42-18, well, you would probably give up, too. The rallies were good in this match, with Bolelli's forehand an absolute weapon. But the Austrian has about a thousand weapons. And he just rolled them out. The Italian doesn't have those upper gears. Thiem moves on to play his first seed, number 25 Stevie Johnson. The American is good enough to take a set but Domi Thiem is looking imperious right now, having dropped just 15 games in two matches.
...You're correct, the courts are in a funny order today. Well, blame the French. It's always worth checking in with David Goffin. Well, the Belgian has defeated Serg Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Two and a half hours. Four breaks to one. It was really very straightforward. Goffin is as dependable as a pendulum. But Domi Thiem has to be on his mind, at least a little bit.
...It was a tight first set, but once that was over so was the match. Pouille uppsed his game and won going away 7-6[5], 6-1, 6-2. In the two hour contest there were a remarkable 15 double faults. It was the kind of match the crowd could really get into, with a Frenchman playing and the array of fabulous shot-making that both of them can produce. And you know why that match is down here? Because it deserves to be. Dominika Cibulkova, who has never been to a final here, was on a show court. These guys were on Chatrier. But former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, with the best set of weapons in the whole draw, who has been to seven quarterfinals here and won it before, and who was playing a Frenchwoman was relegated to the bottom slot of court one. The whole Roland Garros scheduling matrix is totally whacko. Anyway, Bellucci, much like in his career, faded badly down the stretch here. He showed so much promise in his younger days, but that's all gone now. You just can't hit 39 errors in three sets. The Frenchie now plays Albert Ramos-Vinolas. That has five written all over it and the Frenchman may not be the favourite.
...The Spaniard just keeps on going at slams. Never noticed, never appreciated, but always there. The Spaniard managed to bore another victim to death yesterday. He ground out the Kazakhstani in just short of three hours, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6[3]. The 17th seed is really a top 12 guy. He has regressed a tad this year, but you can still expect good things from him this slam. The win over a tricky opponent is more evidence that he is ready to make a splash at the slam. His third round clash with Jiri Vesely will be one to watch. And the winner gets Rafa. That is some prize.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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