Um, can we get a do over? After the first few dreary and damp days of Roland Garros, it feels like half the top players decided it just wasn’t worth it.
At least Venus Williams tried her best today, not only on the court but in her warm up attire – a bright red puffer jacket!
This was my match today, the one I sat down and watched and cheered on at six in the morning. I thought Venus looked great during the first set, but then I got that sinking feeling during the second. Her game, and her body language, went limp. We’ve seen this so many times before from her, at least in recent years, that her loss to the teenaged Anna Schmiedlova barely registered as an upset. But it sure upset me. Still, I was cheered by Venus’s fight in the end and by the fact that she showed just enough great stuff to make me think she’ll keep on trying a little longer.
But on to l’upset du jour.
I did mention in my draw review that watching Serena Williams at the French always makes me nervous – like X-Games, will she land that 1080 or on her head nervous. Today it was head injury time. We’re talking put her out of her misery bad – the 2-6, 2-6 loss to 35th ranked Spaniard Garbine Muguruza was, mercifully only 64 minutes long. Long enough to be called “the worst (loss) of her career” by USA Today. She hasn’t lost in the second round of a major in sixteen years and hasn’t won so few games in a Major match in the last 288 matches (. It was so bad that 205 ranked American teenager, Taylor Townsend, saw the score and assumed Serena had won it: “Serena lost? She did? Oh. Oops. Whoa. … I thought she won. I saw (the score), 2 and 2. I was like, ‘Oh, that was fast.’” That’s Taylor talking to the press after scoring her own three set upset over 20th ranked Alize Cornet. (Go Taylor!)
They say upsets are contagious, and the cliche’s proven true over the past couple days.
As of yesterday, I thought the loss of Li Na, the tournament’s second seed, was upsetting enough – I’d had her set up as the yin to Serena’s yang this tournament. Why do I even bother coming up with these notions? Serena’s departure on Wednesday makes this the first time in the open era that the top two women’s seeds haven’t made it to the third round of a Major (rolandgarros.com.) Just to add frosting to this bitter cake, I suppose.
Now all eyes (and bets) are on Maria Sharapova for the women’s title, whose dismal record against Serena Williams no longer matters at this year’s Roland Garros. I liked her cagey response to the upset question: “Obviously when you go on court you’re aware of a lot of the upsets, not just in the women but in the men, as well. . .So it’s great to get a win in that type of atmosphere.”
On the men’s side, I was particularly upset by third seeded Stan Wawrinka’s first round departure on Monday. He was dangerous enough to make things interesting on Nadal’s half of the draw, and his loss means a lot of the intrigue is gone. Nicolas Almagro, who made headlines this spring by beating Rafa on clay, was also bumped out of the tournament before getting his chance to back up his Barcelona triumph. The charismatic Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov left their own distinct holes in this side of the draw. Things are going truer to form (so far, at least!) in the Djokovic/Federer half, with the hobbled Kei Nishikori the most notable early round defeat (seeds Dolgopolov and Youzhny are other early losses of note.)
Maria’s right, these upsets have created a certain atmosphere – I can even feel it in my living room. It’s like watching the high wire act at the circus, or The Shining on late night television. Until some semblance of order is restored, I’ll be watching Roland Garros through the gaps in my fingers.
And one cheerful postscript – is anyone else feeling a bit delighted by the recent rumors that Coach Mauresmo may be teaming up with Andy Murray? I think that might just make my year! And make me a Murray fan for life!