Thursday, May 29, 2008

Waiting In The Wings

Have you heard of Jeremy Chardy? Because I haven't. And you know why? He's ranked #145 in the world. Even people like me who follow tennis closely don't normally follow it that closely.
And yet today Jeremy Chardy, of whom no one has heard, took out David Nalbandian. Heard of him? I have. #6 seed. Argentine #1. Rival of Federer throughout their junior days - a rivalry that continues today, to an extent. Winner of the Tennis Masters Cup in 2005 and two consecutive Masters Series events at the end of last year.
Surprised? I was.
If there's one thing I've learned from this year's Roland Garros - and, indeed, the claycourt season - is that I should be paying attention to the Challenger circuit (and probably the Futures circuit as well.) I've already written a bit about Eduardo Schwank (who is Argentina's best hope in the draw now!) Thomaz Bellucci was pretty impressive against Nadal in the first round, even though he got beaten. Ernests Gulbis, the young Latvian kid, beat James Blake today. And now Chardy... there is some interesting stuff going on in those lower rankings. I wouldn't say that Roland Garros has been a fiesta of upsets or anything - though Schwank, Gulbis and Chardy certainly pulled them! - but there have been a few guys that I think are going to be good in a year or two. REALLY good.
A disappointing result for Nalbandian, though I can't bring myself to be too sad. I'm hardly his biggest fan. I think a lot of his wins and defeats are in his head. He has this Jekyll and Hyde thing going on. It's like there are two Nalbandians - GoodDave and LameDave. I only caught a bit of the Chardy match, but it looked like LameDave showed up big time in the third set. I wouldn't call Nalbandian inconsistent exactly - LameDave wins sometimes, though he's got nothing on GoodDave, who beats Federer twice in three weeks - but the continual presence of LameDave has to be a worry for him.
What is going to be really interesting is to see who makes it through that quarter. Everyone was talking about the potential Nadal/Nalbandian quarterfinal, because even though Roland Garros is Rafa's playground, he's never beaten Nalbandian (GoodDave or LameDave.) But it is not going to come to pass. Our options now are Murray, Chardy, Tursunov or Almagro. Now, I suppose I can't count Chardy out... but I'm going to. I think we're looking at a Tursunov/Almagro fourth round - Murray's good, but I don't think he's going to be able to touch Almagro on clay. Sentimentally, I'd like Tursunov to come out on top, as he is my second favourite after Federer and all, but I think Almagro might be our quarterfinalist there. Rafa will take him out - there's pretty much no doubt in my mind, unless something dire happens - but I think Almagro will push him a bit. He's a real claycourt player - I think he's won Valencia twice? Correct me if I'm wrong.
Speaking of Nadal, he put a beating on Nicolas Devilder today... who never even came close to pulling a Chardy. He did well in the first set, but after that, Nadal destroyed him. Federer did a similar thing, though he actually lost a rain-interrupted first set against Albert Montanes in a breaker... but when it was time for the second set, the Fed amped it up and went all destructo.
I know there'll probably be some 'mon dieu! Federer has lost his touch!' media attention because of the whole first set loss and all, but, like Sharapova yesterday, I don't think it'll hurt him too much. Considering it's been a rainy Roland Garros, it's probably a good thing for him to get in some extra practice on the super-soft wet clay. And playing ten games odd in the rain can't have been much fun! After the first set - which was tight - Federer played very well. I'm happy with his progress! He plays Ancic in the next round, which is being billed (justifiably) as 'potentially tricky' but I think he's going to do just fine... especially if he can keep his first serve percentage up there!
On the women's side (only a little bit on them today. I talked much too much about them yesterday!) Casey Dellacqua won again, in what must have been a much easier match against Nathalie Dechy. She comes up against Carla Suarez Navarro in the next round, and it'd be great to see her make a run to the round of sixteen again, to prove the Australian Open wasn't a fluke! I don't think Australia has a prayer of winning the French this year in anything, but if someone's going to go deep, it's going to be her. I was surprised to see Hewitt take out Fish, but David Ferrer is going to cane him in the next round. In my humble opinion, anyway... and judging by the beatdown Ferru laid on Santoro yesterday, my opinion might be grounded in fact...
I was glad to see Alize Cornet win as well - I have my eye on her as a bit of a star of the future, and I REALLY like the way she plays. Same with Dinara Safina, though it was a shame her big brother Marat went out to Davydenko. I think the upset of the day was probably Anna Chakvetadze - the #6 seed, much like Nalbandian - going down to Kaia Kanepi. Mauresmo went down too... I don't think Amelie's really ever going to have much impact in Paris, to tell the truth, which is sad for her. Kirilenko also got knocked out... but so did Andreev, so they can console each other and stuff, I guess!
And, finally, congratulations to my man Stan Wawrinka, who won his match in straights. With Richou out of the draw, I think we might be looking at an all Swiss quarter... when I would obviously have to abandon cheering for Stan because of extreme Federer adoration. But I would love to see him get that far! And speaking of Swiss players, Timea Bacsinszky is going to be one worth keeping an eye on. She went out to Patty Schnyder (from Switzerland, surprise surpise) yesterday, but I think she's going to be great. She and Cornet, my other up-and-comer on the women's side, are playing doubles together and I'd love to see them go deep. They won their first round match against Navratilova (Gabriela, not Martina!) and Paszek... so here's hoping my pick of the teens comes up trumps! Although they might be facing the Bondarenko sisters in the next round... but if Chardy can take out Nalbandian, who knows what might happen in the women's doubles?
Roland Garros Results - Day #5
Men's Draw
Roger Federer def. Albert Montanes, 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-0 6-4
Rafael Nadal def. Nicolas Devilder, 6-4 6-0 6-1
David Ferrer def. Fabrice Santoro, 6-0 6-1 6-0
Gael Monfils def. Luis Horna, 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-5
Nikolay Davydenko def. Marat Safin, 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2
Ernests Gulbis def. James Blake, 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 7-5 6-3
Lleyton Hewitt def. Mardy Fish, 6-4 6-3 6-2
Jeremy Chardy def. David Nalbandian, 3-6 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-2
Tommy Robredo def. Marc Gicquel, 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 6-4 6-4
Mikhail Youzhny def. Maximo Gonzalez, 6-3 6-2 6-2
Fernando Gonzalez def. Pablo Andujar, 7-5 6-0 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-3)
Radek Stepanek def. Jiri Vanek, 6-1 6-0 6-7 (7-9) 6-3
Jarkko Nieminen def. Martin Vassallo Arguello, 7-5 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-2)
Robby Ginepri def. Igor Andreev, 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-2
Dmitry Tursunov def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 6-0
Nicolas Lapentti def. Bobby Reynolds, 7-5 6-4 5-7 7-5
Mario Ancic def. David Marrero, 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2
Jurgen Melzer def. Marcos Daniel, 4-6 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-4
Ivan Ljubicic def. Diego Jungueira, 6-3 6-4 6-2
Robin Soderling def. Paul Capdeville, 6-3 6-2 6-4
Stanislas Wawrinka def. Marin Cilic, 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 6-1
Fernando Verdasco def. Juan Ignacio Chela, 7-5 4-6 6-3 7-5
Women's Draw
Venus Williams def. Selima Sfar, 6-2 6-4
Carla Suarez Navarro def. Amelie Mauresmo, 6-3 6-4
Alize Cornet def. Gisela Dulko, 6-0 4-6 6-4
Jelena Jankovic def. Marina Erakovic, 6-2 7-6 (7-5)
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Vania King, 6-4 6-2
Casey Dellacqua def. Nathalie Dechy, 6-4 6-2
Elena Dementieva def. Marta Domachowska, 6-1 6-4
Karin Knapp def. Olivia Sanchez, 6-2 7-6 (7-4)
Flavia Pennetta def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 3-6 6-1 6-1
Aleksandra Wozniak def. Akgul Amanmuradova, 1-6 6-1 6-3
Victoria Azarenka def. Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea, 6-0 6-0
Iveta Benesova def. Shuai Peng, 6-4 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova def. Milagros Seguera, 6-3 6-0
Olga Govortsova def. Ai Sugiyama, 6-0 7-5
Petra Kvitiva def. Samantha Stosur, 6-2 6-1
Agnes Szavay def. Sabine Lisicki, 7-6 (7-3) 6-3
Kaia Kanepi def. Anna Chakvetadze, 6-4 7-6 (7-2)
Francesca Schiavone def. Sanda Mamic, 6-3 6-0
Jie Zheng def. Maria Kirilenko, 4-6 6-3 6-2
Anabel Medina Garrigues def. Tsvetana Pironkova, 4-6 6-3 6-1
Petra Cetkovska def. Galina Voskoboeva, 7-5 6-3
Dinara Safina def. Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-0 6-1
Katarina Srebotnik def. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-0 7-5

1 comment:

John said...

I'll be looking forward to SCHWANK with plenty of optimism.

It hasn't been a good day for me. First Nalbandian & Gang going out in the French Open.

Then watching my beloved Manu & San Antonio Spurs lost to the Lakers.

Well what can I say life goes on.

So now, hopefully Eduardo will pull something today. I'll take your words about him, so right behind him all the way.

In fact we still have a chance to win the Men's Double event.

Perhaps you may wanna give your preview on the Schwank/Mathieu game...