Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monfalls

One of the things that makes a champion a champion is how they rise to the occasion. Another is how they always seem to be exceeding your expectations.
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In hindsight it is safe to say it - I had grave concerns over the welfare of my beloved Roger Federer heading into the match against Monfils. He hasn't been playing especially brilliantly - he eked out his match against Acasuso, scratched it out against Mathieu and clawed his way back against Haas by pure force of will. Understandably, with the level that Monfils brought to the court against Roddick and even Melzer, and with the French crowd behind him, I was a bit worried about Roger.
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But I needn't have been.
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Ivan Lendl reached ten Slam semis in a row, and set a record. (I think it was Lendl, anyway... certainly someone did it!) By beating Monfils and making the semis at this year's Roland Garros, Roger Federer has now made twenty consecutive semis. How's that for breaking a record?
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Let's talk about Monfils for a minute. He certainly was the victim of his own mind in the second set, where Federer's level rose and he just totally whaled on him, but on the whole, he didn't play a bad match. That first set was very competitive - I think any set that goes to a breaker is, really, especially one in which both players have set points. The third set was pretty tight as well, till the Mighty Fed nutted out that crucial break that won the match. Monfils looks like he's made of rubber and was sliding round the court in a manner which suggests this might be true. But Federer... worked him out. You can almost see the moment in Federer's head when he works a player out, and I think it might have happened with Gael Monfils a while back. Sure, Monfils has improved under the guidance of Roger Rasheed over the past year, but Federer's still got a key to the door, if you know what I mean. And that was the key - Federer was hitting the lines, sure, but he pretty much outsmarted Monfils. And that's another thing a champion does - use his mind.
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He'll now face Juan Martin del Potro in the semi final, and to say that Federer has JMDP figured out is an understatement. Not that he'll underestimate him or anything, but seriously, after the quarter final of Australia where Federer smoked him so bad it was almost embarrassing? I don't want to jinx Federer here, because of course he'll take this match seriously, but it all seems to be lining up pretty well here for him. Clay is a different animal, of course, but if Federer plays at the same level he brought to the court against Monfils, then I think he'll be into the final in less than two hours. No discredit to JMDP, who basically whipped Tommy Robredo today, but... Roger Federer will be Roger Federer!
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Over to the ladies, and how about you, Slammin' Sam Stosur? Who would have ever thought that an Aussie girl would be in the quarters of Roland Garros - and then win through to the semis? Sure, her opponent, Sorana Cirstea, was unseeded and pretty untried on the big match stage, but, whatever! Sam Stosur owned her today and she's into the semis. And given that the semis are tomorrow and the other match went for three hours...
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...not doubting the fitness of Svetlana Kuznetsova - who seriously deserved her win over Serena Williams. That was the match of the day without a doubt, with true grit shown on both sides. But maybe Sam has a window, an opening, through which the final is visible. An Aussie in a Slam final. It's a possibility. And when was the last time we could say that?
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Today's Results
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French Open (Roland Garros)
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Men's Draw
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Roger Federer def. Gael Monfils, 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 6-4
Juan Martin del Potro def. Tommy Robredo, 6-3 6-4 6-2
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Women's Draw
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Samantha Stosur def. Sorana Cirstea, 6-1 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Serena Williams, 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 7-5

3 comments:

whynotme12 said...

Hey !

Yes it's indeed Lendl who held that record....which was broken already 2 years and a half ago, can you believe it ?? Among all his career achievements, I think this is THE most telling about his dominance. More than the number of Grand Slam titles. Because it shows how much he's amazingly dominant on EVERY surface ! I mean, I think people definitely don't give him enough credit for what he's done on clay. 1 semi-final, 3 finals in a row, and counting in RG ? All of whiwh he lost to THE best clay-court player in the history ? I know I'm just stating an obvious fact, but still ! 5 years of semi-finals, I just can't belive it. And among those semis, I think he didn't go to the final only 3 times out of 20 (Safin AO 05, Rafa RG 05, Djoke AO 08). And out of the 17 times he went to the finals, he only lost to Rafa. NO ONE else. God, sometimes I truly wonder why people are questionning his GOAT status. Maybe I'm being a bit subjective, but I think the facts are quite obvious. Well, I suppose we just have to wait until Sunday, around 6pm o'clock in Paris.... Not to jinx him of course !

"The fourth set was pretty tight as well, till the Mighty Fed nutted out that crucial break that won the match" Mmmmmh I know it's hard to believe given the level of our anxiety before the match, but it actually only went to 3 sets ! loool

I'm actually scared of JMDP. I know I shouldn't but I can't help.

Anyway, great title !

Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Hey Jodi, I agree with whynotme12: Great headline!

Congrats on Roger, too! And this is funny: I don't know if you remember it, but waaay back when on your blog, I said Tommy Robredo would get to the finals at the French. So much for that happening!

Jodi said...

whynotme12 - I didn't even notice I'd written fourth set there! Must be so used to those eked-out matches against Acasuso and co that it was instinctual. Am very glad it was only three sets - doubt I'd be raving QUITE so much if it had been more.

Wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote about Federer's record. We judge him by a standard that we do not judge anyone else - and the crazy thing is that he lives up to it half the time! I don't see anyone matching that 20 semis record - that means that in every single Slam for the past five years, Federer has been in the semis. And you're quite right - seventeen finals. That's just astronomical.

I'm hoping for a repeat of the AO quarterfinal against JMDP. Nothing against JMDP, but everything but Roger has pretty much faded to black at this point!

Van - I picked Robredo to make semis several months ago - so we were both in the right ballpark but no cigar. Still, I think we both deserve a tiny bit of credit. :)