In a day of upsets at the French Open, the biggest by far was Venus Williams’s loss to Agnes Szavay in an unbelievable scoreline: 0-6, 4-6.
Venus couldn’t believe it, either: “You know, I’m used to beating people 6‑0. I’m not used to my shot not going in and losing a set 6‑0. So it completely was foreign ground for me.”
At least she got some revenge later in the day, when she and Serena took out Szavay and Gisela Dulko in the doubles.
What’s bigger news? That Maria Sharapova is into the fourth round of Roland Garros after yet another tough three setter or that the French crowd actually cheered for her? Maria’s take: “You’re ranked outside the top 100, so people like you.” Enjoy it while you can, Maria.
Grunting is really too soft a term for the sounds Michelle Larcher de Brito was emitting before, during and after every stroke in her match against French woman Aravane Rezai. More accurate descriptions include screeching, screaming and wailing like a banshee. The Telegraph, U.K. called the match “the loudest performance in the history of tennis” and ESPN quoted her coach, Nick Bollettieri, as saying Sharapova’s grunt is “no contest” for Larcher de Brito’s.
When Rezai complained to the umpire about the auditory racket, the sixteen-year-old defended herself: “Do you ask Sharapova to keep quiet?”
Here’s a sample of the noise (from last year’s Montreal event):
Rezai, who emerged the victor in two sets, had this to say afterward about Sharapova’s new rival:
ARAVANE REZAI: It’s different (than Sharapova’s grunt). She (Larcher de Brito) really shouts loud. Maybe it’s the way she tries to impress the opponent, but it really did upset me because it was really unpleasant. I did try to talk to the umpire about this. She kept shouting.
I think the umpire did not really do his job, and so I told the referee. You know, it’s a pity, because she really plays well. She’s talented. She fights, but she still has a lot to learn. She’s very young, and I think she’s just going through a phase.
Rezai’s complaints led to increased tension on both sides of the net – with glaring and cheering for the opponents’ misses. Since the tennis improved along with the cattiness, it made for some great entertainment. The final handshake was icy, and Larcher de Brito was reportedly booed and catcalled on her way off court.
“It wasn’t too much of a great feeling,” Larcher de Brito said after the match. Good, because my ears still hurt.
Speaking of drama, the Battle of the “Real No. 1s” rages on:
I found this amusing line in an “article” on Serena Williams’s website, summarizing her three-set win over Zakopalova in the first round: “Eventually, the champion at the last two Grand Slam championships and the player so many, many people believe is the real world number one, stood her ground and closed it out 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in almost two and a half hours.”
Since Serena started it, I’ll add fuel to the fire: Dinara Safina has lost a total of 4 games in her first 3 matches of the tournament. Serena’s lost 14 games in just 2 matches.
We now interrupt this Day 6 Wrap for a photo of Roger Federer:
(Rog plays Paul Henri Mathieu tomorrow in his 3rd round match)
Speaking of Roger, nice props from oldster Lleyton Hewitt in his post match presser (after being demolished today by Rafael Nadal):
Q. If you look to this tournament you see some former No. 1 players like Safin, Ferrero, you. You’re not still in the 30s, but it seems like your generation cannot pick on anymore. How do you see that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Roger is doing all right for our generation. We’ll just hang on to him at the moment.
After Rafael Nadal destroyed one buddy on the court, he defended another buddy off of it (via ESPN):
RAFAEL NADAL: “(Richard Gasquet) is most certainly not taking cocaine. You know what the world is like today. You know, when you go to a party, anything can happen these days. If you kiss a girl who’s taken cocaine, anything can happen, and that’s the truth. That’s reality, and this can destroy your life or your career, rather, and this is most unfair.”
As Rafa said, anything can happen these days. . .
We have a new contender for Dumbest Press Conference Question, this time asked to Ana Ivanovic after she beat Benesova in straights:
Q. Getting older and older, and I don’t remember where I read everything, but I think I read something about you, that you were playing or were offered a wildcard on a badminton tournament. Is that true, or have you ever been playing badminton?
ANA IVANOVIC: No, never.
In other results, Andy Murray is through to the 4th round for the first time in his career after his opponent, Janko Tipsarevic, retired with a leg injury. Robin Soderling upset David Ferrer, Hanescu upset Simon, and Davydenko bested Stan Wawrinka in four. Verdasco (over Almagro), Gonzalez (over Ouanna), Djokovic, Cilic and Kohlschreiber (over Ferrero) are also through on the men’s side.
On the women’s side, Cibulkova beat Dulko and Na Li beat Govortsova. We have to wait to see who wins Azarenka vs. Suarez Navarro, which was suspended for darkness tied at two sets all. Go Carla!
My biggest question for the weekend? How badly will NBC fu*k up the tennis? Will an epic five-setter be cut short to fit the network’s three hour broadcast window? Click here for our French Open TV schedule.