Diary of an American in Paris: Days 2,3 & 4

Written By: achangeofends - Jun• 04•10

Hi all. While I had the best intentions of updating every day from Paris, somehow I just never seemed to have the time or adequate internet connection. Anyway, here are some of my thoughts from the last few days.

Day 2 (1st June)

I originally decided to skip the sightseeing today and head straight over to the tennis to ensure that I would get a seat on Chatrier to see Nadal’s match. I arrived at Roland Garros around 3pm and approached the guard at the entrance. I wasn’t quite as lucky as yesterday because he didn’t speak English. After many attempts to get my point across, he informed me that they were no longer selling tickets at night. Disappointed, I asked another attendant if I would be able to purchase a ticket tomorrow morning. He did speak English, but unfortunately the news wasn’t good. I would not be able to get a ticket tomorrow either.

I spent the rest of the day walking around Paris. After what felt like many miles, I stumbled upon a plaza with a large screen set up and several exhibition courts. I was glad I finally found something to do with the tennis and sat down to watch some of the match highlights on the big screen. Luckily, this was the one day that we got good weather, so it was nice to sit outside with other fans.

I did manage to catch a few televised matches today, even if I couldn’t be there in person. I was particularly intrigued by the Djokovic/Ginepri match. As an American, I always like to see our guys do well, but clay courts just aren’t American friendly. Robby was the last American left on the men’s side of the draw and I consider that a pretty poor showing considering we’ve got Roddick, Querrey, and Isner. Ginepri is one of those players that lives in obscurity the vast majority of the time and then surfaces once every couple of years with a good performance. I was unimpressed with Djokovic today. A player of his caliber should be able to go out and crush a guy like Ginepri. Sure, he still won in 4 sets, but what was the second set all about? It seemed like a severe lapse in concentration. He can get away with stuff like this when he’s playing second rate players, but up against someone like Federer or Nadal, the tiniest lapse could cost him the match. Spoiler Alert: Jurgen Melzer was able to take advantage of this lack of concentration and has now secured himself a spot in his first Grand Slam semi-final.

Day 3 (2nd June)

It’s raining. I’ve chosen to spend my day watching the tennis on TV and take a bus tour of Paris later tonight. Clearly the matchup of the day is Roger Federer and Robin Soderling. These two have met on twelve previous occasions and Roger Federer has beaten Soderling in all twelve, including last year’s French Open final. I predicted on Sunday that Soderling wouldn’t make it past tennis’ golden boy, but I must admit that I was wrong. I never doubted Soderling’s abilities. He’s an incredibly talented guy, but it’s hard to like anyone’s chances against Federer, especially when they’ve already lost to him twelve times.

I started watching this match from the beginning and was quite pleased to see them split the first two sets (everyone likes a close match); however, I was confident that Roger would come back to win it and continue his Grand Slam semi-final streak. Again, I was wrong. I chose a nice little Italian restaurant for dinner because it was showing the match. I watched as Federer succumbed to defeat. After getting over the initial shock of the situation, I was quite pleased for Soderling. He may not be very popular amongst the other players, but no one can doubt his determination. He is so focused. I was sitting close enough Sunday to have a very clear view of the players and Soderling has an almost crazed look in his eyes when he plays. He’s passionate about improving on his results and I think this will help him get farther in all the big tournaments.

Now, the important question, what are Robin’s chances of winning? He has an excellent shot at making it to the final for the second year in a row. His semi-final is against Tomas Berdych. As I explained on Sunday, Berdych is a very unassuming player. He doesn’t have the drive that Soderling has and he’s never made it this far in a Slam. He’s bound to be a bit nervous. Soderling’s problem lies in the final match. It’s nearly certain that Soderling will face Nadal (who plays Jurgen Melzer on Friday) in the final on Sunday. I don’t envy his position, facing Nadal in a French Open final is no easy feat. While we can consider the fact that Soderling beat Nadal in the fourth round of the French last year, Rafa is considerably healthier this year. He has won nearly every clay court title this season and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If these two meet on Sunday, my money’s on Nadal to win. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Robin Soderling though.

Day 4 (3rd June)

Fun Fact: I arrived at the St Charles train station in Marseille this morning. I was approached by a French woman while waiting and apparently she was quite certain that I was Nadia Petrova. It took me a couple of minutes, but I tried to explain that I was definitely not Nadia Petrova. She finally bought my story and moved on. I really don’t see the resemblance.

Today was actually quite surprising on the women’s side. It seems that regardless of who wins on Saturday, we will have a first time Grand Slam champion. Sam Stosur has played a very solid season this year and really seems to be keeping her head in the high level matches. Arguably, she had the toughest draw of anyone to get to the final this year. She defeated Justine Henin, Serena Williams, and Jelena Jankovic on the way to the final. Schiavone seems to have come out of nowhere, but she also had a considerably easier road to the final, particularly after Dementieva retired in their semi-final. Interestingly, if Schiavone wins on Saturday, she will be the first Italian to win a Grand Slam.

My prediction: Stosur in two sets.

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