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2010 French Open Coverage

Day Ten Thoughts


--- see all matches played today here ---

--- get ready for tomorrow's matches here ---




Court Philippe Chatrier, the prime show court on the grounds of Roland Garros, was most unkind to the two favorites who contested their quarterfinal matchups on its clay. The other quarterfinals for both the men and the women, contested over on Court Suzanne Lenglen, were no less spirited though probably to be expected. It was a day of upsets, a day of setting the table for the final battles toward the singles crowns, and for the juniors and doubles brackets to thin themselves out a little further. We're ten days in now, back on target with just one tournament to focus upon at one time...

The first match of the day on Chatrier pitted #3 Caroline Wozniacki against #17 Francesca Schiavone. Wozniacki, who advanced to the final of last year's U.S. Open against Kim Clijsters, is one of the fastest rising stars on the WTA Tour. At just 19, she was looking to crack the nut and finally take her first Grand Slam title. The field was open for her to make the run... but the young Dane didn't count on the Italian, a decade her senior, getting the better of the match. Schiavone was merciless yet hardly spectacular -- she had no aces, was getting in fewer of her first serves than Wozniacki and had nearly as many unforced errors (13 to Wozniacki's 17). But the Italian veteran was coming to net wonderfully, forcing her younger opponent to play things earlier than she liked. The result was a straight-sets sweep of the favorite, 6-2 6-3, taking just eighty minutes before ceding the court to the men's matchup.


And what a matchup it was. #5 Robin Soderling, the magician of last year's tournament who killed Rafael Nadal's streak of 31 straight match victories and four consecutive titles at Roland Garros, engineered another record-slaughtering win to bolster his own credentials as one of the top five men in the game. This time it was the #1 seed yet again, the man who ended his Cinderella run in the French Open final in 2009, Roger Federer. Soderling was 0-for-12 against the all-time Grand Slam singles champion prior to today, and only another healthy dose of magic and strong play from the Swede could make thirteen lucky today.

After today, Federer might just have triskaidekaphobia after the way today ended for him. He jumped out to the early lead, taking just 32 minutes to clean out the first set 6-3. Soderling, though, would return the favor by the same score in 34 minutes to win the second set and knot things right back up at a set apiece. Ultimately it would prove the last time that Federer held the lead. Over the next hour and a half Soderling earned two crucial break points, winning out the match 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 in two and a half hours. In the process he ended Federer's streak of reaching at least the semifinals at 23 straight Grand Slam tournaments. The last time he was ousted before the semifinals at a Slam? The 2004 French Open, when the Swiss star -- then as now the top seed in the draw -- was bounced in the third round by #28 Gustavo Kuerten in straight sets. It was a tougher battle for Soderling this time around... but the damage was the same nonetheless.


Lenglen was host to a couple of Russians in the early match. Nadia Petrova, who had already taken out home-crowd favorite Aravane Rezai and world #2 Venus Williams in successive rounds to get to the quarterfinals, found her compatriot simply too much to handle. It has been a great year so far for the 27-year-old, but another semifinals appearance at Roland Garros on the heels of her 2003 and 2005 showings was not in the cards this time around. Elena Dementieva, the 28-year-old who lost in the finals in 2004 to another Russian, Anastasia Myskina, has rebounded from a weak showing in the clay-court run-up to the French Open to advance to the final four. Petrova, who four years ago was the heir apparent to the sport and sitting at #3 in the world rankings, won the first set 6-2, but that was to be the wake-up call for Dementieva. Despite the breaks that opening set took 62 minutes; Dementieva would need just two more minutes total over the next two sets to rout her slightly-younger opponent a week before her 28th birthday and book her return ticket to the semifinals.

Behind them came #11 Mikhail Youzhny and #15 Tomas Berdych. Which was going to advance through? Neither man had ever been this far in the clay-court Grand Slam event before; neither was really expected to have been this far. Berdych took out American giant John Isner before punching Andy Murray's ticket back home; Youzhny had taken Frenchman Jo-Wilfried out of the tournament to get to this point. In the end it was the younger Czech star who firmly outdueled the older Russian, Berdych winning through in straight sets 6-3 6-1 6-2 for the minor upset.


Nothing was being kind to the athletes today. In mixed doubles, the #2 team of Cara Black and Leander Paes -- who won the Australian Open earlier this year -- were knocked out of the party by Yaroslava Shvedova and Julian Knowles. Girls' doubles saw the Pliskova sisters, Karolina and Kristyna, face yet more heartbreak after they both lost early in the singles draw this weekend. The top seed in the girls' doubles at Roland Garros, their first round against the Tunisian tandem of Nour Abbes and Ons Jabeur a nightmare as their tournament together ended in the 7-6(8) 3-6 1-0(5) scoreline. A spate of minor upsets coursed through the junior ranks.

It can be hell on the athletes sometimes (and those of us who enter the madness of daily coverage), but the rewards were right there in the way the underdogs stepped right up to the challenge and prevailed against all logic. There's got to be a lesson in there somewhere...



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