Wow, I’m still getting over the Nole/Nadal semifinal. But before we chat about that:
Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova today in the women’s final: 6-4, 6-4, to win her second Roland Garros title and first since 2002. That’s an eleven year gap, the longest in the game. It’s also her sixteenth Major title, meaning she could join Chis Evert and Martina Navratilova at eighteen before the season is out. Watching Serena’s game in contrast to Maria Sharapova is illuminating – anyone who complains that Serena’s all power will be struck at her grace, movement, touch and variety when playing the second best player on tour. And that serve – she struck three aces in the final fame of the match – is so smooth and powerful I’d like to put it in a rocks glass and sip it before dinner.
For someone who has been so successful, for so long (she won her first Major in NYC in 1999!), it’s amazing to think of how much her game has improved – I’d say her run to the Australian Open title in 2007 was a launching point for Serena 2.0, we’re now in 3.0 territory – and the truly amazing thing is that she just keeps getting better. Her French is improving, as well!
I want to spare a thought for Maria, another big star with unabashed ambition and a love for the game to go along with her fame and fortune. Unfortunately for her, she just can’t beat Serena Williams! This is no Federer vs. Nadal record – we’re talking twelve straight losses and no love for almost a decade. “I’d be lying if it doesn’t bother me,” she told the press before the match (via Tennis.com). “Obviously whatever I did in the past hasn’t worked, so I’ll have to try to do something different and hopefully it will.”
Well, it didn’t. But I know she’ll keep working on it. If she could figure out a way to make this into a real rivalry, we fans will be in for a treat. I was a bit annoyed by the NBC commentators’ surprise at how hard Maria was trying to win the match today, as if she should have just thrown her hands up and said, “let’s all just save ourselves the effort and give you another “W”, Serena!” It was verging on insulting. Good thing Maria could give a rat’s ass about what other people say.
Now, onto the men. Nadal and Djokovic in particular. There’s probably nothing I can say that hasn’t already been written about this fantastic five setter. But I’d like to join the admiration society! I fell like this was the best of their battles, thanks not only to the new adherence to timeliness between points, but also because of recent history – that loss Rafa took to Nole in Monte Carlo – and many intriguing intangibles.
Freaky Fry and I woke up at about 6:30 on Friday morning to find the two men starting the fourth set. I was mad, at first, that my DVR hadn’t picked up the match from the beginning, but I soon realized I’d basically skipped straight to dessert. What followed was just the perfect, most entertaining couple of sets of tennis you could ever see, especially given the stakes. I was cheering for Nole – I felt like he had more on the line with the death of his mentor and his desire to complete that career slam – but came out of it with a renewed appreciation for Nadal, and the passion he brings to occasions such as these.
Speaking of passion, Uncle Toni reportedly broke down in tears after the match, calling the win “a miracle.” Rafa and his agent Carlos Costa also cried in the locker room after the match, according to Tennis.com. I love it when we fans get to see how much the game means to the players.
So we were given a miracle of a semifinal and now a bit of a dud of a final in Nadal vs. Ferrer – at least on paper, where Rafa holds a 14-4 career advantage, with none of David’s wins coming on clay. Not exactly intriguing as match-ups go, but Ferrer’s been inching towards success over Nadal this clay court season with three set losses to his countryman in Madrid and Rome and Rafa may be just a smidge jaded by his physically and emotionally victory in the semis. Could we at least agree that Ferrer has a better chance against Rafa than Maria did vs. Serena?
As much as I like David, I admit to rooting for Jo-Wilfried in their semi, at least until I realized that he was in absolutely no shape to play a final against the likes of Nadal. The usually flashy frenchman was unrecognizable – Julien Benneteau has more charisma. I read that Jo was surprised by Ferrer’s speed around the court. Wow. What are you paying Rasheed for, exactly? Talk about unprepared. We know that neither Rafa nor David will be guilty of a lack of preparation tomorrow. But there still could be a surprise or two in store. Vamos, guys!
And congrats to the Bryan Brothers for their 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory over the French team of Llodra/Mahut in the men’s doubles final. It’s their 14th major title! Mahut, maybe best known for his loss to John Isner at Wimbledon three years ago, took this tiebreak loss really hard:
Czech’s Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cremak beat Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic in the mixed. The Italian team of Errani/Vinci will play Makarova/Vesnina in the women’s final.