2010 French Open Coverage
Day Eleven Thoughts
- MEN'S SINGLES
- WOMEN'S SINGLES
- MEN'S DOUBLES
- WOMEN'S DOUBLES
- MIXED DOUBLES
- BOYS' SINGLES
- GIRLS' SINGLES
- BOYS' DOUBLES
- GIRLS' DOUBLES
- WHEELCHAIR BRACKETS
The Williams sisters at least still have doubles. Up against one half of last year's women's doubles championship team playing with a new partner, Serena and Venus were up against a formidable test as they attempted to redeem what had been a disappointing tournament so far. Venus had been bounced out of the tournament by Nadia Petrova in the fourth round in straight sets a couple of days ago. In the quarterfinals, her top-ranked younger sister dropped out of the singles draw as well as she faced off against Samantha Stosur today in the first match of the day on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Stosur, the Australian who has slowly been among the rising pool of talent in the wide-open women's game, was at the top of her game today. Breezing out to a 6-2 first set victory in 36 minutes, Stosur had the upper hand and Serena looked listless. But she warmed her way into the second set, earning the tiebreak and winning it 7-2 to force the final set. Both players broke the other's serve to start the third set and then locked down. Everything was level at 6-6 when Stosur got her fifth break of the match. Williams got ahead 15-30 in Stosur's ensuing service, but that would be as close as she would get to extending the set. The Aussie served out the match with three straight points, the second day in a row that the number one seed was eliminated from the tournament after Federer's elimination yesterday.
But all that was behind them now. The task at hand was the fearsomely-strong partnership of Liezel Huber -- who was there with Cara Black against Serena and Venus in the Australian Open final -- and Anabel Medina Garrigues, who won the doubles draw each of the past two years with Virginia Ruano Pascual. It was a battle of the top seed versus a team of two incredible doubles players who had never played a Grand Slam together before but were seeded #3 on the strength of their combined six Slam doubles titles with other partners. The first set went to Huber and Garrigues, the women getting a couple of breaks to win out 6-2. Serena and Venus returned the favor by the same score in the second, setting up a winner-take-all third set for the final.
Just four points separated the teams in the final set, but they were four crucial ones. Serena and Venus managed the only break of serve, gutting out a 2-6 6-2 6-4 comeback victory that allowed them both a chance to walk away from Paris with some sort of hardware for their troubles. After all, the singles prize is going to be in the hands of one of four women who have never before won a Grand Slam title on the strength of a wide swath of upsets throughout the draw. Stosur battles Jelena Jankovic, the only top-four seed remaining, in the semifinals... can she knock the Serb off after successive defeats of Justine Henin and Serena Williams? With the form she's exhibiting, it is definitely possible.
In the other semifinal, Elena Dementieva hopes that she improves on her 2004 final appearance to claim her first, long-sought Grand Slam title. She will be going against Francesca Schiavone, the Italian who reached the finals of the women's doubles competition here two years ago. By upsetting #3 Caroline Wozniacki to get to this point yesterday, she became the first Italian woman to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam event. It will be a battle of diverse games between the two veterans, a lucrative championship shot at stake.
On the men's side, four-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal was made to sweat a couple of times, but today was not the day he was to suffer a second-straight year of anguish at Roland Garros. Up against #19 Nicolas Almagro, a fellow Spaniard who has been on surprisingly good form coming into Paris, the two men battled to tiebreaks in each of the first two sets. Almagro got the first break on Nadal's first service game, but the #2 player in the world coolly got it back. After winning both tiebreaks and going up two sets to love, Nadal broke Almagro once more -- with the underdog serving at 4-4 in the third. Nadal served out the match, but even then it wasn't easy... after Almagro held on two match points, the third time was the charm for the former champ as he blazed toward an attempt at regaining his crown.
He will take on #22 Jurgen Melzer after he was the beneficiary of another Novak Djokovic meltdown. Djokovic, whose 2008 Australian Open title is looking more and more like an aberrant alignment of the stars for one glorious Melbourne fortnight, had the semifinals right in his hands and let it slip away like so much fairy dust. In little over an hour he cleaned up the first two sets, a break in the first and two in the second putting him ahead 6-3 6-2. Djokovic got an early break in the third set and consolidated it to go up 2-0... but then something happened. Melzer figured out the Serb's serve. Breaking on each of Djokovic's next three service games, he stole back a set 6-2 and set off the avalanche.
Djokovic regained his composure in the fourth set, yielding nothing on his serve. But then, neither was the Austrian, and the two went to a tiebreak. Melzer jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak, but Novak clawed back with three straight points. It would only be three in a row, though, and the underdog had things all tied up at two sets apiece. Djokovic was reeling, punch drunk as the match went into the fifth and deciding set and well into its fourth hour. The two men jabbed, holding serve until the Serb punched a forehand wide and handed Melzer the break to go up 5-4. Thinking he was going up 0-30 in the next game, Djokovic didn't get the call from the umpire and subsequently squandered any hope of coming back. Melzer advanced to the duel with Nadal in a four-hour, fifteen-minute, 3-6 2-6 6-2 7-6(3) 6-4 marathon...