Let us begin this post with the wise words of defending champ and 2011 finalist, Francesca Schiavone, who beat the weirder-than-ever (seriously, she looked a bit demented out there) Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3 in Thursday’s semifinals (via Tennis.com):
“The years can help a lot,” the 30-year-old Schiavone said. “Like I said some days ago, (it) is like the wine. Stay(ing) in the bottle more is much, much better.”
And the key to her success? “Inspiration!”
Schiavone and the 29-year-old Li Na, who took out wise-beyond-her-years Maria Sharapova in the other semi, will come together on Saturday to make it the oldest French Open final since 1998 (Novotna vs. Tauziat.)
If you still feel like celebrating with Schiavone, click here for Pete Bodo’s terrific piece on her semifinal win.
Last year, Francesca became the first woman from Italy to win a Major title. This year, Li Na’s looking to do the same for China. Just one of the many reasons this final pairing is so unlikely and so exciting. Though I was rooting for Maria, hoping she’d make good on her chance to become the 10th woman to win a career Grand Slam, I’m no party pooper.
“I think improve a little bit for China tennis. I’m sure they show the match the same time in China. Many children saw the match and think one day they can do the same or even better.” Li Na told the press after her win on Thursday.
Now onto the men’s semis, the final four and the top four seeds in action. We’ve been waiting for this, right? And by the time most of you read this, the matches will be uncorked. But let’s enjoy the buildup just a little bit more.
Even Rafael Nadal is excited for Djokovic vs. Federer, which will follow his own semifinal vs. Andy Murray. Via RolandGarros.com:
“Among Djokovic and Federer, I believe it’s the best player (at this) time against the best player of history. It’s going to be a beautiful match. I would watch it if I was a spectator,” Nadal says. “I think both of them have chances to be in the final. Djokovic is playing fantastic, Roger did very well during this tournament. Roger has enough potential to beat anybody, and you know how good can be Roger in the final rounds of a Grand Slam.”
And if you still are looking for an excuse to pop open some bubbly tomorrow – mimosas, anyone? – don’t forget that The King of Clay will turn a quarter century on Friday. Here’s to you, Rafa!
A quick note on the telecast – Tennis Channel is broadcasting and streaming Rafa vs. Andy live, starting at 5am Pacific. I’m going to do my damnedest to wake up for that one. NBC goes on at 11am in all time zones, which is a nicer way of saying that the Today Show trumps live tennis, no matter who’s playing. But the network, thanks to our vociferous complaining over the past few years (anyone else still quivering from the Fed vs. Del Potro debacle in 2009?), has at least agreed to stream Federer vs. Djokovic live at NBCSports.com. Hey, it’s a start.