I called it! The first day of the tournament passed and Victoria Azarenka (women’s top 10 seed, fell 1-6, 2-6 to Gisela Dulko) and Ernests Gulbis (popular dark horse pick, retired with hamstring issue vs. Julien Benneteau) are out. I am pretty sure these are the only predictions of mine that will come true. So allow me to toot my horn: tootie toots toot toot! But wait, Ernie and Vika are two of the most promising, charismatic young stars in the game. Oh, and another one of my darkhorse picks, Rome titlist Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, lost 2-6, 4-6 to Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan (uh?). Triumphant toot transforms to plaintive violins. . .
But Gulbis remains upbeat (via BBC):
“I stretched my hamstring in my right leg and I heard two cracks. I will go for a scan and hope that nothing is broken.
“It’s very disappointing. I prepared really well for the tournament. But I have another eight or nine years in front of me, maybe 20 Grand Slams.
“If I concentrate on just this one, I’d go nuts. It’s happened and I will learn from it,” added the 21-year-old.
Moving on: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga only just avoided becoming the biggest upset of the tournament, squeaking past German Daniel Brands 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. The hometown favorite was reportedly feeling under the weather but was denied a Monday start by tournament organizers – who are still in the midst of letting out one très, très long collective sigh of relief.
Venus Williams’s see-through black lace dress with flesh-toned panties was another headline grabber (she also beat Patty Schnyder on Sunday, 6-3, 6-3.) I’d hate it, except that I love it:
“The outfit was about illusion, and that’s been a lot my motif this year, illusion,” Venus explained to reporters afterwards (via FoxNews)
Hmmm. . .I’m not the only one digging for newsworthy events on the sleepy Sunday start. The Mirror reports that Roger Federer has “snubbed” Andy Murray. Yes! It begins already.
When asked who he thought could win at Roland Garros besides himself and Rafa Nadal, Federer said: “Novak [Djokovic] is one of the favourites here.
“Other than that, it is hard to pick anybody right now apart from Roger and Rafa.”
[Hold up, did Roger just talk about himself in the third person, or is the Mirror reporter getting imaginative?]
“I think a lot of the Spaniards have had a great clay court season. They’ve dominated most of the clay court tournaments this season so far, so they obviously have a chance.”
The omission of Murray’s name was a clear snub to the Scot – who is the world No.4 and seeded fourth at the tournament . Murray protested: “There has been a little dip in Miami and in Monte Carlo, but now I feel good again and I’m winning matches.
“I’m excited to play. I want to try and win this tournament.”
Perhaps Roger is just focused on Nole and Rafa because either of these guys could take his No. 1 ranking away from him at the end of the tournament – leaving him just one week short of Pete Sampras’s all-time record of 286 weeks at No. 1. Basically, he needs to keep his semifinals streak alive if he wants to be sure of holding onto the top spot. Here are the detailed scenarios, as cooked up by the ATP:
- Federer will remain No. 1 if he reaches the SFs but anything less and Nadal wins the title, then the Spaniard regains No. 1.
- Nadal must win the title and have Federer lose before the semi-finals to take over No. 1.
- Djokovic must win the title and have Federer lose before the quarter-finals
Or maybe Roger is just being a big meanie and purposely leaving Murray out of his “Roland Garros Favorites” club. Both Federer (vs. Luczak) and Murray (vs. Gasquet) will play their first rounds on Monday. Let the mind games begin!
Seeds that made it through: Soderling, Cilic, Youzhny, Garcia-Lopez, and Albert Montanes. On the women’s side: Cibulkova, Kirilenko, Pennetta, Petrova, Rezai and one very under-the-radar defending champ, Svetlana Kuznetsova.