Posts Tagged ‘2010 French Open.


It’ll be a long wait until the next clay court season rolls around.

I can’t be the only one to feel it was great to see true claycourt tennis winning the day at Roland Garros this year.

Rafael Nadal and Francesca Schiavone emerged victorious and it was their athleticism and ability to build a point which shone through and resulted in glory.

 I wasn’t a fan of the French Open – the long rallies were too boring I thought, serve-volley was what it was all about on the lush lawns, not run-all-day on the grubby dirt.

Nowadays the tournament is my favourite of the year and a chance to see players constructing points in long rallies.

Unlike some surfaces, power will not get you everywhere here.

Just ask the two beaten finalists at the weekend, Robin Soderling and Sam Stosur.

Both had been given big build-ups to their respective finals – Stosur starting a hot favourite – with power at the heart of their chances.

It mattered not a jot.

Stosur was outplayed by Schiavone’s guile, perhaps best summed up by the players’ performances at the net. Whenever the Italian came forward she put away the volley; when Stosur did it usually ended badly.

If Stosur was outplayed, then Soderling was crushed 24 hours later by an simply awesome performance by Nadal.

Plenty has been written about Nadal’s retrieving skills in the past but the beauty of his excellence is that despite the fact he’s been doing it for years, it remains thrilling to watch him get balls back.

Soderling threw all he had at the Spaniard but simply wasn’t able to put the ball past him often enough.

Nadal’s defensive game is the best I’ve ever seen – it’s not just that he’s able to get a racquet on the ball, it’s the fact that despite being stretched almost horizontally he is still able to put it back in play just inches from his opponent’s baseline.

Frankly, the word defensive doesn’t do justice to Nadal in any way.

It’s often used to describe his game – I’ve been guilty of that as much as the next man – but clearly Nadal has the shots to win points of his own volition.

Courtesy Andy Schooler @


Nadal wins his 5th French Open title without losing a set!

Rafael Nadal claimed a fifth French Open title with a stunning straight-sets demolition of Robin Soderling in Sunday’s final.

Nadal was in imperious form as he surged to a 6-4 6-2 6-4 win on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, holding his serve throughout the contest.

The Spaniard’s superb retrieving skills once again played a key part in his victory, denying Soderling the winners which had accounted for Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

As a result of this win, Nadal usurps Federer as world number one – leaving the Swiss agonisingly one week short of Pete Sampras’ record of 286 on the top of the pile.

Victory was also sweet revenge for Nadal, who lost his one and only Roland Garros match to Soderling at the last-16 stage in 2009.

However, he has now won on five of his six visits to the tournament – this year regaining the trophy without dropping a set, a feat he also achieved in 2008.

Soderling, last year’s beaten finalist too, started well enough but Nadal began to push him back with some excellent depth – shots which would result in the fifth seed going for more only to come up with errors.

It was the second seed who achieved the first break of serve in the fifth game and that proved enough to take the first set.

During it, Soderling was unable to convert three break points and that was to continue to prove a problem – he would finish 0-8 on break point opportunities. Part of that was down to Nadal’s good serving – he finished with a first-serve percentage of 77.

Nadal’s excellence was arguably best displayed in the second game of the second set as he saved four break points, including three in a row from 0-40, the last featuring some simply superb defence before he came to the net to put away a volley.

Soderling must have thought he’d made his breakthrough there but instead he went on to lose five games in a row from 2-1 up as Nadal took the set with ease.

Facing a mountain to climb, Soderling then dropped his serve at the start of the third set with a poor game as the streak against him became seven. At that stage, many sensed the game was nearly up.

The crowd tried to lift his spirits but the Swede could not find a way to break and Nadal served out to love before collapsing to the clay in tearful delight.

Afterwards, the champion told Soderling in his victory speech: “Sorry Robin, but today I played my best match of the tournament.

“If not, it was going to be impossible to beat you.”

Soderling, who had also failed to break serve when he faced Federer in the 2009 decider, described Nadal’s five-title feat as “really impressive”.

“If you continue to play like this you will for sure have the chance to win many more.

“I enjoyed the two weeks here very much and I love this tournament.

“I will come back next year and hope it will be third time lucky.”


Mamma Mia!! Francesca Schiavone wins the 2010 French Open!

Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title with a superb victory over Australia’s Sam Stosur in the French Open final.

The 29-year-old from Milan ignored her underdog status as she won a high-quality encounter 6-4 7-6 (7-2) on a baking hot Court Philippe Chatrier.

Seventh seed Stosur had beaten Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the final and was the leading player on clay this year with a 20-2 record on the surface.

But Schiavone, the 17th seed, was making history as the first Italian woman to even reach a Grand Slam final, and she went one better to match Adriano Panatta’s 1976 victory at Roland Garros.

The finalists may not have been among the game’s very biggest names but the quality of play, particularly from Schiavone, was worthy of any major final.

Stosur rattled through her opening two service games to love and Schiavone was similarly impressive in the opening stages, both players seeing off moments of danger from deuce with some big serving.

It was the Australian who cracked first in game nine, sending a forehand wide and then prodding a nervous volley over the baseline to slip to 0-40.

Schiavone thought she had made the breakthrough at 15-40 when a backhand pass clipped the net, only to see it loop up and land inches wide, but Stosur then handed over the break with a double-fault and the Italian came back from 0-30 to see out the set.

Her attacking game plan then brought Schiavone two chances to move clear in game three of the second set but Stosur battled her way out of trouble from 15-40, before putting the pressure back on her opponent with some heavy forehands.

Schiavone faced break points for the first time in the match in game four and when she pushed a forehand into the tramlines it seemed that a third set would be required.

But it was to be the only moment of weakness from the Italian who came roaring back from 4-1 down with three games in a row, a searing backhand return and a forehand pass helping her to break in game seven and drawing huge cheers from the Chatrier crowd.

A tie-break was needed and Schiavone totally dominated, showing no sign of nerves as the greatest prize of her career came into sight.

She brought Stosur into the net and guided a backhand past her for the break at 3-2 and then came up with a volley, a forehand winner and a sublime backhand drop volley to stand at 6-2 and four championship points.

When her single-handed backhand came flying off the frame of Stosur’s racquet, the Italian collapsed onto the dirt and kissed the red clay as she had done after her previous wins this week.

Schiavone then followed the well worn path of Grand Slam winners into the stands to find her friends and family, but few on-court celebrations can have been as emotional as that between the Italian and her many supporters.


Sunday’s final promises to be one of the best in recent history.

Robin Soderling will draw strength from last year’s final and his recent record against Rafael Nadal when the two square off for the French Open title on Sunday.

Both men won their respective semi-finals on Friday to set up a repeat of 2009’s historic fourth-round clash, which saw Soderling become the first player ever to beat Nadal at Roland Garros.

The Swede went on to reach his first grand slam final but proved unable to rise to the occasion as Roger Federer beat him in straight sets.

He now faces arguably an even tougher test against Nadal, who is looking unbeatable on clay once more.

The 24-year-old has won his last 21 straight matches on the surface and is an overwhelming favourite to lift his fifth French Open title.

But he has lost his last two meetings with Soderling, who also appears to have improved since last year’s famous triumph on Philippe Chatrier Court.

Soderling said: “We’ve played many times. He beat me a lot of times, and I beat him a few times.

“Of course it’s always good to have beaten a player before. I know that I can beat him. I showed it. But every match is a new match, and every match is different.”

The fifth seed is confident his nerves will not get the better of him tomorrow, as he admits they did this time last year.

“Hopefully I won’t be as nervous as I was last year playing that match,” he said.

“I think I played many big matches the last year against good players on big courts. I’ve learned from every one of those matches, and hopefully I will feel fine. We’ll see on Sunday, but of course it feels better.

“It’s always the most difficult one playing your first. In any tournament, the first match is the most difficult one.

“It was tough for me last year playing my first grand slam final. Hopefully it will be a little bit easier this time.”

Soderling was forced to come from two sets to one down on Friday to beat Tomas Berdych 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3 in a match that lasted almost three and a half hours.

Nadal, by contrast, maintained his ominous run of not having dropped a set all tournament, dismissing Jurgen Melzer 6-2 6-3 7-6 (8/6).

Yet the second seed – who will dethrone Federer as world number one if he wins tomorrow – admits to fearing Soderling’s game.

“He has a very complete game,” Nadal said of the man who stunned defending champion Federer this year.

“It’s very difficult to get a move, because his serve is very powerful, both on the first and the second ball. He’s very aggressive from the baseline.

“Sometimes he will play long, flat shots. So it’s very difficult to make him run and move.

“Wherever he is, he strikes with a very powerful shot. He won easily against me last year. Obviously, I was not at my top level. I’ll be up to 100% on Sunday, and I’ll do my job. But if he wins, I’ll congratulate him.”


Williams sisters make history with French Open doubles title.

Venus and Serena Williams landed their fourth consecutive grand slam doubles title at the French Open with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik.

The Americans wrapped up victory in 73 minutes to win their 12th grand slam title together, adding to last year’s trophies at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows as well in Melbourne in January.

The sisters become only the third partnership in the history of the women’s game to hold all four slams at the same time.

Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver did it in 1983-84, while Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva repeated the feat in 1992-93.

The top seeds will become the top-ranked doubles pairing on Monday, meaning Serena will be only the sixth woman to hold top spot in singles and doubles at the same time.


Soderling ready for another crack at Nadal!

Robin Soderling powered into his second successive French Open fina after coming from two sets to one down to beat Tomas Berdych.

Giantkilling Swede Soderling’s dream of a first grand slam title hung in the balance when costly errors allowed Berdych to take control of the match.

But the 25-year-old fought back to win 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3 after three hours and 27 minutes on a sun-baked Philippe Chatrier Court.

The semi-finals were the first in a grand slam not to involve Roger Federer since the 2004 French Open.

Rafael Nadal earned the chance to win a fifth French Open title and gain revenge for last year’s shock defeat after seeing off Jurgen Melzer in the semi-finals.

The Spaniard, 24, took his record on clay this year to 21-0 with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 (8-6) win in two hours and nine minutes against the Austrian 22nd seed.

In Sunday’s final Nadal will face Robin Soderling – the man who inflicted upon him a first-ever Roland Garros defeat in the fourth round last year – after the Swede battled past Tomas Berdych in five sets.

A victory on Sunday will also see Nadal regain the world number one ranking from Roger Federer,

The world number one’s quarter-final conqueror Soderling was aiming to reach his second successive Roland Garros final, while Berdych had already gone further than he had ever done at a grand slam.

The Czech – who crushed Andy Murray in round four – had not dropped a set all tournament and had comfortably beaten Soderling at the Miami Masters in April, though the latter had won five of their eight meetings.

Serve dominated during the early exchanges, both holding their openers to love.

Indeed, Berdych did not drop a point on serve until game six, but when he did, it proved fatal as a terrible backhand error and and a double-fault helped hand his opponent the first break.

That was enough for the Czech to go a set down and he could have fallen further behind when another double-fault brought up deuce in the opening game of the second.

Another deuce followed in game three before Berdych converted his first break point of the match a game later thanks to a Soderling double-fault and backhand error.

The Czech missed two points for a double-break in game six but it did not matter as he levelled the match three games later.

Soderling was hitting more winners but Berdych was producing far fewer errors.

The latter made three crucial ones to surrender a 0-40 lead in game three of the third set before two double-faults from Soderling handed him the break anyway.

Berdych did his best to gift the Swede parity in his next two service games.

After surviving 30-40 in the first of them, he was made to pay for a flurry of errors in game six as Soderling broke back.

The Swede also had 15-40 in game eight but Berdych clung on and was rewarded when he broke to 30 three games later before serving out the set impressively.

Soderling looked as though he might crack when he fell break point down in the opening game of the fourth set but he held before breaking himself in game six following another double-fault and backhand error from Berdych.

The Swede then stuttered serving for the set, recovering from 30-40 down to take the match into a decider.

A stunning backhand return helped him break to love at the start of the fifth but a double-fault and two forehand errors handed it straight back.

Soderling was nevertheless starting to find his range again and some brilliant play from the Swede took him to 0-40 in game seven, Berdych netting after saving the first break point.

And Soderling sealed victory with his fourth straight game when Berdych went wide serving to stay in the match.


The irony of defeat!

The buzz around the tennis world is still buzzing, evaluating Soderling’s defeat of the grand master Roger Federer. Yet another winning streak has come to an end, and in Robin’s case, a losing streak has come to an end.

At this exact time last year, the buzz was about Soderling’s defeat of the other grand master, Rafael Nadal. It was unthinkable that Nadal could be beaten on red clay, but this hard-hitting guy from Sweden pulled it off. A fluke? A bad day for Rafa? Were his knees bothering him? Very few of us gave Soderling the credit he deserved, and suddenly Roger Federer was given a chance to win his first French Open. And, as they say, the rest is history.

And now the player, that Federer should be thanking for giving him the opportunity to add the final jewel to his tennis crown, has reared his ugly head again and wiped the floor with him. The ultimate irony.

If Rafa wins on Sunday he will back to the #1 position. But to get to the final he has to defeat Amalgro, and most likely Djokovic. The other finalist will be the winner of the Soderling/Berdych match. Berdych defeated Soderling the last time they met.

A Nadal/Soderling final would be the Tournament Director’s deam come true, and just might have an ironic twist to end the 2010 French Open!


Stosur maybe all that realistically stands between Serena and the French Open title.

Samantha Stosur says she won’t be falling for any of Serena Williams’ mind games before tomorrow’s much-anticipated battle for a spot in the French Open semi-finals.

The Australian rolled her eyes and laughed when she heard of the world No.1’s gushing comments about her on Monday.

Just moments after Stosur had halted four-time champion Justine Henin’s 24-match unbeaten streak at Roland Garros 2-6 6-4 6-1 in the fourth round, Williams told reporters that Stosur “has a good chance to go all the way”.

“Yeah she’s amazing,” Williams said.

“She’s fast, she is strong and has a great serve. You know I don’t know if she has a real weakness.”

Consider that 12-time grand slam champion Williams all but dismissed Stosur as a hack only last July after the Australian toppled her at Stanford.

“She had a lot of lucky shots. She’s a good framer.” That was Williams’ comment at the time.

No wonder Stosur took the latest praise with more than a pinch of salt.

“She can say that but she knows we have to play each other in two days’ time,” Stosur said.

“Whether or not she actually believes it, who knows?

“I guess it is a nice thing to say but at the end of the day we are going to compete against each other and she is not going to lie down to me for one moment.”

Stosur knows the powerful American is probably the biggest remaining hurdle in her quest to win Australia’s first French Open singles title since 1973.

The Gold Coaster is bursting with confidence from toppling Henin and having a win-loss record of 18-2 on clay this year doesn’t hurt either.

She seemed far from bothered about their last meeting when Williams blasted her off the court 6-4 6-2 in the round of 16 at the Australian Open.

“She beat me fair and square and played well, I did not really get into the match but I did not play that bad, she was just too good,” said Stosur.

“Hopefully that is not going to be the case on Wednesday.

“Different situation, different court, different everything.

“So I know I have beaten her once and and hopefully Wednesday will be a second time.

“But in grand slams it is always hard to beat Serena, no matter what the situation.”

She is right there.

Williams is the game’s equivalent of the Terminator, incredibly difficult to kill off and the American looked like she was hitting top form in her 6-2 6-2 win over 18th seed Shahar Peer on Monday.

“I feel prepared every year and I always dive out in the quarters,” said Williams.

“I am just trying to get past that this year.”

The 2002 champion has not progressed beyond the quarter-finals at Roland Garros since 2003 and it is her worst surface.

But only a fool would count her out.

With Henin out and Kim Clijsters injured, the winner of the Stosur-Williams clash is a good chance of going on to claim the title.

After beating Stosur at Melbourne Park this year, Williams said to the Australian crowd: “Sorry guys, maybe next time”.

Maybe indeed.

Tennis Australia.


Happiness is Francesca Schiovone!

Caroline Wozniacki was sent crashing out of the French Open quarter-finals after a stunning display by Italian Francesca Schiavone.

The 19-year-old Dane was broken three times as the 17th seed powered her way through the first set and her dominance continued at the start of the next.

Wozniacki battled back to 3-3 but the 29-year-old soon secured a 6-2 6-3 win.

Schiavone will play Elena Dementieva in Saturday’s final after the fifth seed beat Russian Nadia Petrova 2-6 6-2 6-0.

Apart from a brief wobble when leading 3-1 lead in the second set, Schiavone’s victory was never in doubt as she progressed to her first semi-final in a Grand Slam.

The Italian, playing in her second Roland Garros quarter-final nine years after her first, promised to “fight and run for three hours” if necessary but she only needed 38 minutes to win the first set despit elosing the opening game.

After a slow start in the second set, the Danish teenager at last showed signs of life to break back and trail 1-2 but then lost her serve for the fifth consecutive time.

The fightback was all too brief and despite the damp conditions, Schiavone continued to dazzle with power and deftness at the net when required and broke again in game eight before serving out the match.

She collapsed and kissed the clay after becoming the first Italian woman since 1954 to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final.


Jankovic & Shvedova complete the final 8 in Paris.

 Jelena Jankovic eased past Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open on Monday.

Jankovic, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2007 and 2008, was rarely troubled by the 23rd seed during her one-hour and 25-minute stroll on Centre Court.

The former world number one, looking to clinch her maiden grand slam tournament, wrapped up the win on her first match point when Hantuchova misfired a service return.

Jankovic will next Yaroslava Shvedova who defeated the ‘other’ Aussie Jarmila Groth in straight sets 6-4,6-3. Shvedova who’s currently ranked #36 has played Jankovic 3 times on hard courts, and Jankovic holds a 2-1 edge.

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