Saturday, June 04, 2016

Roland Garros Day 14: A Day Memorialised in the History Books

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

In twenty, thirty, forty years time when the internet is a far cry from what it is now, when Todd and I are long gone Muguruza will be remembered. And this picture will be the one. This is her first clay court final. This was the moment she defied Serena Williams and let Steffi keep the record for one more slam at least. Her dismissal of Stosur and Williams back to back is a feat akin to Sharapova’s victories in Wimbledon in 2004.

And she’s so pleasant, so likable. With youth and no weaknesses on her side she has the ability to rule the roost for many years to come. We finally have a genuine world number two, a prodigy. Serena was extremely classy and gave her the hug. But there are problems for our elder stateswoman. Todd is probably discussing them at length right now. But for who else would three slam semi-final/final losses on the trot be a bad thing?

In fact this BACKSPINNER struggles to remember the last time she did not make it at least that far.

Moving on from Muguruza, the WTA, of course, being Todd’s specialty, other stuff happened.

The 42 year old Paes won his 10th mixed title and sealed a grand slam. He has eight men’s doubles titles and has won every slam in both disciplines. He has won four mixed slams since the 2015 Australian Open. He won it with Hingis against Dodig/Mirza 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.
Hingis has just five [just!] mixed doubles titles, winning with Paes at those same slams from 2015-16. She has 12 doubles and five singles titles. All told she has won the Australian Open ten times. She has also won the tour finals five times. But she never did get that Roland Garros title did she?

Two mentions of Steffi in one post. A record? Possibly. She always did do those understated celebrations better than anyone.

And in the men’s doubles, Lopez/Lopez won their first doubles crown, denying the Bryans triumph number 17. It really is an incredible story. Mahut is now set to take the world number one position, stealing it from Melo. The Spaniards are the 11th different pairing to win in the last 11 slams. Parity much? They beat Duran/Gonzales 6-7[7], 6-0, 7-5. Having barely survived they went on to beat the 1st, 3rd and 5th seeds. They have had a magical, Cinderella-esque run. And with Wimbledon coming up, surely they can follow it up with at least a quarterfinal showing. In the final they won 6-4, 6-7[6], 6-3.

Stat of the day: Muguruza broke four times, Serena twice.

Righteo, let’s look at Friday's semi-finals...

...Dour Murray won in dour fashion on Friday. He beat Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Everytime Wawrinka makes the semi-final of a slam before a slam he has not won, he will win it. In 2013 he made the U.S. Open semi-finals. He won in Melbourne. He made the semis in Melbourne the next year and won the French. Now he has made the semi-finals in Paris and he also has the one slam a year rule. Honestly, he could go and win Wimbledon. 65 errors in four sets, most of them Wawrinka’s. This really was not good. The WTA has had a far better tournament than the ATP. Unless the final knocks our socks off, this will be life after Rafa. Awful semi-finals, the same players making finals and no variety in the biggest matches. The sport is going to lose fans. Djokovic and Murray haven’t shown enough charm [Murray’s weakest area by far] or the personality to carry the sport. To win in the final Muzza has to play big and try to outmuscle Djokovic if he can. The dropshot won’t work here so who knows how Murray is going to win points.
...What can you say about a match, a semi-final no less, as abysmal this? Djokovic was barely on court an hour, dismissing the Austrian with ease. He has now reached six straight slam finals. But with the Serb turning 30 next year, how much longer can he keep it up? This is it for him, surely. If he doesn’t beat Murray in the final, when will he win it? Djokovic broke six times to one in the 6-2,6-1, 6-4 victory. He hit just 15 winners and 15 errors. It was a tight, compact performance from the Serb. In fact, he just turned into a wall, one which Thiem could not break down. The Austrian has had a fabulous season but he felt Djokovic’s wrath in this match. Two forgettable semi-finals later and we have ourselves a really grim, nigh on unwatchable men’s final. To win and complete a career grand slam at long last Djokovic just has to return well. Murray’s serve is his biggest weapon right now. Take it away and he should do fine. He needs to also use that backhand up the line. Murray is going to be far more exhausted. Nole’s fitness is superior at the best of times, but here it will be a massive difference.

It will be Mladenovic/Garcia [5] against Makarova/Vesnina [7] in the ladies doubles final. The pair have met once. The French pair cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win in the semi-finals. They are the favourites but that along with come favour puts massive pressure on the two rising stars. A win here could propel them into the fourth seed position for Wimbledon. If they win here then they may well be the best pair in the world.

In the semis, they defeated Kuznetsova/Gasparyan 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. They won over 50 per cent of second serve points and broke four times. It was very successful by all accounts.

Of course, as Todd so cynically points out [ Ed.note: more "frustratingly," really - tds ], they cannot seem to put it together alone. Or without Mauresmo. This BACKSPINNER believes they can both still have a magnificent singles career but it remains to be seen as to whether that will come to pass.

The Frenchies open on Chatrier at 11:30 am tomorrow. Tune in for that one. It should prove to be good. Murray and Djokovic play next. That will not be good, it will be awful. I’d skip it if I were you. These Djokovic versus Murray matches are never very good. It’s a rivalry that will be forgotten by history. Djokovic is going to win in four sets and get his grand slam. Expect far more breaks than is respectable, too.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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