US Open Day 1 Order of Play

Written By: achangeofends - Aug• 28•11

As they say on Broadway, the show must go on. In New York, the same goes for tennis. Despite the hurricane that rolled through New York this weekend, the US Open will go on as planned (with a few minor adjustments.) The big difference in the schedule is one less match on Ashe, which is unfortunate if you’ve splurged on good Ashe seats, but it’s a big win if you’ve got a grounds pass. Here’s tomorrow’s schedule. I’ve taken the liberty to suggest a few matches. In fact, if you choose the bold matches, you’ll probably see me there.

Arthur Ashe Stadium (Starts at 1pm)

  • Tobias Kamke v. Mardy Fish
  • Heather Watson v. Maria Sharapova
  • Vesna Dolonts v. Venus Williams (Starts at 7pm)
  • Roger Federer v. Santiago Giraldo (more…)

Braving the Storm

Written By: achangeofends - Aug• 27•11

We may not have seen the effects of hurricane Irene yet, but some tennis players are more than prepared to brave the storm. Just like the rest of New York, players ventured out to local convenience stores and super markets to buy supplies for hurricane survival kits. Here’s what players are stocking up on.

@andreapetkovic jokes about hurricane preparedness by posting a photo of the hotel bar

I’m with Petko, what could be better than a fully stocked bar to ride out a hurricane?

Stuck inside for the next day and a half waiting out my first hurricane! Have chips, crackers, cheese, Coke, bread, and beer..all set ūüėČ
@queen_v21
Vania King

@MardyFish claimed wife, Stacey, was behind their preparations

I bet Mardy will appreciate his wife’s purchases if they’re stuck in their hotel room. I know that Peanut Butter & Co. stuff is delicious.

Driving around Manhattan..looking for food for the next 2 days..Irene is not even here and its already being a pain in the neck!
@MirzaSania
Sania Mirza-Malik

@laurarobson5 doesn't need anything else after receiving this Magnolia gift basket

Laura Robson qualified for the main draw and someone sent her this lovely gift basket. Considering my own hurricane survival kit consists of double stuffed oreos, I think Laura’s set to withstand Irene’s fury.

@andy_murray's friend/coach @danielvallverdu posted this photo of his hurricane survival kit

Fashion Update – Adidas

Written By: achangeofends - Aug• 23•11

I’m sure many of you have already seen the new US Open Adidas kits on twitter or facebook by now, but I thought I would quickly run through them and let you know what I think of the fall lineup.

First up, World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, in Stella McCartney for Adidas.

I would’ve been happy to see Caroline in just about anything new at this point. That ruffly clown number has been around since Indian Wells so it’s about time for a little change. I think we can all agree that Stella and Caroline must’ve gotten off on the wrong foot considering some of the fashion atrocities that have come out of that partnership. However, it looks like their relationship may be on the mend. The new dress is not only flattering, it’s actually kind of cute. Adidas describes the dress as “scuba inspired” although I’m not sure I see the connection. Whatever they want to call it, there’s a distinct lack of ruffles and it doesn’t look like something a child might wear to her first ballet recital. In my book that makes it a winner. Perhaps being off the worst dressed list will help boost Caroline’s confidence a bit. She could use it. Plus, if people are talking about her outfit, they won’t be talking about her coaching situation. If I’m allowed to be a little nitpicky, I have to say that I would’ve preferred to see this dress at Wimbledon and a colored version for the US Open. New York is all about the glitz and glamor of going over the top and I just can’t imagine this outfit fitting in with the drama of a night session on Arthur Ashe stadium. The dress actually comes in yellow, or¬†some color¬†Adidas has termed Calvi that looks a lot like yellow. I think this may have¬†been a more appropriate choice for¬†Flushing Meadows, but funny enough, no one asked¬†my opinion. ¬†This dress is available here and retails for $130.

We’ll stick with the women and check out what No. 16 seed Ana Ivanovic will be wearing. Per my suggestion for Caroline, Ana is wearing the colored version of her Wimbledon outfit. Honestly, it’s tough to make Ana look bad. Adidas¬†generally puts Ana and Daniela Hantuchova in the same outfits, and those two could sell pretty much anything. I like the color, a “sharp red” as Adidas puts it, that really looks a bit more pink. It’s very similar to Ivanovic’s 2010 ensemble. There’s a faint screen print design on the front. If you’re looking to buy a tennis dress, this dress won’t make you look like Ana, but it’s a good deal at $59.99 from Tennis Warehouse¬†including a sports bra and shorts.

All in all, the women should look pretty good, although I haven’t seen what they’ll be trotting the other WTA players out in. I wish I could say the same for the men. Adidas sent out designs for three of their top players, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Fernando Verdasco. I think you all remember the watermelon themed fiasco from this year’s Australian Open. Any Murray has fared the best this year. At least they rarely try to dress him in odd prints. Anyway, here’s a look at the US Open outfits.

Andy Murray is Adidas’ main man. I can’t really imagine Andy in a dynamic print because it just doesn’t suit his personality. Luckily, Adidas gives him solids. This year his shorts are black and his shirt is red. On first glance, this actually looked pretty good to me. I like the neckline on the shirt and you really can’t go wrong with black shorts. The only major concern I have with this outfit is the vibrant green piping at the neck. Why is it there? It doesn’t fit with the rest of the outfit. Plus, red and green always makes me think Christmas, regardless of the tones. The shirt also comes in blue, black and white (all of which look fine with the green neckline) and the shorts also come in white (which have a green accent). My suggestion? For day sessions Andy should wear the white shorts with either the red or blue shirt. For night matches, Andy should try something dynamic and go with the black shorts and black shirt. Rafa, Roger, and Andy Roddick have all rocked the all black look and it was successful in all three cases. Andy’s shirt is available for $46.99 while the shorts will set you back $37.99.

The real kicker in the Adidas line up is the outfit worn by Fernando Verdasco and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. They are both wearing similar outfits in different colors. Fernando’s shirt has no collar, while Jo’s is a polo. I’m not even really sure what to say about this outfit. There are no colors that would make this pattern acceptable. On the bright side (like Fernando’s shirt), Verdasco’s kit will be easily¬†visible¬†from even the worst seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium, assuming he gets to play a match there. If you’ve got courtside seats, I suggest bringing sunglasses. Jo’s color scheme won’t blind you, but it has the same unfortunate pattern. I should mention that I quite like the maroon shorts and the blue shorts (not pictured) in this collection. The only think worse than these shirts is the warm up jacket. I haven’t found a photo of the jacket on a player yet, which I assume is because no one has negotiated an endorsement substantial enough to warrant this. The crew neck can be found at Tennis Warehouse for $46.99 along with the polo for $50.99 and the shorts for $42.99.

I Know This is Crazy, But Let’s Do It

Written By: achangeofends - Aug• 21•11

Because tennis is such a global sport, it often takes fans weeks or months to plan a trip to see their favorite players in action. A first time trip can sometimes be overwhelming to plan. Where do I stay? What do I pack? Do I need to buy tickets in advance or is it easier to buy them on site? Is there parking/a tournament shuttle? There are a lot of questions, and generally not a lot of answers. So, I want to create a database.

Basically, I want to create a comprehensive fan guide to tennis tournaments, including rating each tournament on categories like location, concessions, and player¬†accessibility in addition to fan tips and tricks. Personally, I’ve only been to 11 tournaments,¬†paltry¬†when you consider there are WTA and ATP tournaments nearly every week, and I definitely don’t feel qualified to give guidance on each and every one of them. That’s where you come in.

Do you attend your local tournament every year? By all means fill out the form and help your fellow tennis fans. Did you splurge on a luxury trip to Wimbledon? Share your wisdom.

I’ve created a basic evaluation survey which you will find in a tab at the top of the page. As I get the survey results, I will compile them into uniform guides for each tournament I have information on. If I get more than one for the same tournament, I will average the scores and combine the comments.

I realize this is an ambitious task, and I’m not exactly sure if this will work logistically. However, I think this could be an incredibly valuable resource for tennis fans and it’s worth an attempt.

Thank you for your help and please don’t hesistate to contact me with any questions.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Written By: achangeofends - Aug• 14•11

The Kings Island Amusement Park Replica Eiffel Tower. Photo from virtualtripping.com

This week, the entire tennis community, every top player from both the ATP and WTA, has descended on the town of Mason, Ohio. The Western & Southern Open is a Masters 1000 event for the ATP and a Premier 5 event for the WTA. If you are unfamiliar with tournament levels/tiers, these are the biggest and the best outside of the four Grand Slams. In fact, the draws are actually stronger than those at Grand Slam events because they feature the Top 64 players, rather than the Top 128. This means the qualifying field is absolutely stellar and can often feature household names whose rankings have slipped a bit. At this level, there are nine tournaments per year. So by now, you probably understand how prestigious these tournaments are. Cincinnati has upped its level big time this year by having the WTA and ATP events during the same week, for the first time in the tournament’s history. However, something about this event has always struck me as a little bit different. Let’s have a look at the others and see what it might be.

BNP Paribas Open – Indian Wells, California: Generally thought of as the fifth Slam, Indian Wells is one of the largest events on tour and attracts the ritzy crowd you would expect from its Palm Springs location. The tournament hotels are five star resorts with golf courses that golfers dream about and rooms that will cost you upwards of $300/night.

Sony Ericsson Open – Miami, Florida: Miami’s a true party city, home to beautiful people and beautiful beaches. A vacation destination all on its own, the SEO attracts even more tourists to the city each March to enjoy the lively nightlife and the best tennis. Some say Miami rivals Indian Wells for its fifth Slam status.

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters – Monte-Carlo, Monaco: ¬†Is there a city more glamorous than Monte-Carlo? No. Monaco is the definition of rich and famous. More celebrities and wealthy foreigners reside in Monaco than actual citizens of Monaco. You can’t walk ten feet without bumping into a Bentley or Maserati, and every other block has a yacht insurance broker on the corner. A significant portion of the players don’t even need to rent a hotel room for the week because they can stay at their tax shelter apartments.

Mutua Madrid Open – Madrid, Spain: Madrid is not only the largest city in Spain, but also the third largest city in the European Union. It’s a popular vacation destination with tons of cultural attractions, a thriving financial industry, and plenty of great food and bars.

Internazionali BNL d’Italia – Rome, Italy: Rome has been a cultural mecca since the BC times and has some of the most important historical and artistic sites in the world. It’s a fascinating place to walk around because the old and the new mix almost flawlessly. You can almost imagine the tennis players battling it out in the middle of the¬†Colosseum.

Rogers Cup – Toronto/Montreal, Canada: Canada’s two major cities both play host to a Masters event in August and to keep things fair, the men and the women alternate between Toronto and Montreal. Toronto is hugely cosmopolitan and has a more business like feel, while I hear Montreal is like being transported to Europe without crossing the Atlantic.

The Shanghai Masters – Shanghai, China: This tournament is relatively new, having only been played twice, but so far it’s been a pretty big hit. China is new to the tennis scene, but that’s changing. So far, Shanghai is only an ATP event. From 2005 to 2008, the arena was home to the ATP Tennis Masters Cup (now known as the World Tour Finals) which featured the Top 8 players in the world. Shanghai is also a popular tourist destination.

The Eiffel Tower - Paris, France

BNP Paribas Paris Masters – Paris, France: Do I really need to explain why Paris is fantastic? I couldn’t imagine a more magical city. There’s art, there’s music, there’s history, there’s architecture, there’s fashion, and there’s tennis. This beautiful city is also home to the French Open.

Now, let’s talk about the Western & Southern Open. Mason, Ohio is a suburb of Cincinnati with a population of a little less than 31,000 people. The city’s claim to fame is the King’s Island amusement Park. The city’s nicest hotel is probably the Great Wolf Lodge which is connected to an indoor amusement park. If your looking for famous food, your choices are Skyline Chili, Dewey’s Pizza, and Graeter’s Ice Cream. Now, before I get lots nasty replies, I am not ragging on Cincinnati/Mason. I love Graeter’s as much as the next person and I’m sure the Mason amusement parks are fun. My point is, the Western & Southern Open has a slightly different feel than the other Masters Series events.

I actually think it’s fantastic that there’s such a large tournament in Cincinnati each year. As someone who spent the last several years living in the Midwest, I can attest to the fact that being a Midwestern tennis fan is difficult. There are only two tournaments held in the Midwest, Memphis and Cincinnati. This means that if you live in any number of cities from Chicago, to St. Louis, to Kansas City, to Indianapolis, you have to travel if you ever want to see some pro tennis. Let me tell you, making the trip from St. Louis to Cincinnati and staying in a Holiday Inn is a hell of a lot easier than flying to Palm Springs or Paris. Tennis is often criticized as being inaccessible¬†to large audiences and in some ways that is true. However, the Western & Southern Open brings high level tennis to a group of people who probably wouldn’t bother making the trip if it was farther away.

As a fun history lesson, the Cincinnati Open was first played in 1899 and is the oldest tournament in the United States that has kept its original home.

The Roundup – This Week in Tennis

Written By: achangeofends - Jul• 17•11

I am officially the worst tennis blogger ever. It’s been close to a month since I last posted anything and far longer since I’ve been consistently updating. For those of you who don’t know, I spent a few weeks in Europe, moved to New York City, and just started a new job. Life has been a little crazy lately. But the good news is that I am starting to settle in and might even make it to a few tournaments this summer.

To be perfectly honest, there’s not a lot going on in terms of actual tennis at the moment. There’s an inevitable letdown after the madness that is the French Open and Wimbledon, but it’s a great time for tennis fans to take a break, or pay attention to some smaller events.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who I’m fairly certain wins the prize for longest name, also took home the trophy in Bad Gastein. Normally I wouldn’t even comment on this, but I’m fairly certain this is the largest trophy in history and you guys should see it.

Photo via AP - Kerstin Joensson

Speaking of interesting trophies, Robin Soderling won the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad. He was the #1 seed so this wasn’t so much of a surprise. Special thanks to anyone who can explain to me why the trophy is a bowl with a swan in the middle.

Photo via AP/Scanpix - Bjoern Larsson Rosvall

The men’s doubles final in Bastad featured Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau against Simon Aspelin and Andreas Siljestrom. While Lindstedt/Tecau came out on top, this was a special match for Aspelin, his last. At 37, the Swedish doubles specialist is calling it quits. His resume included a US Open win in 2007 with Julian Knowle and an Olympic silver medal with Thomas Johansson in 2008. Best of luck to Simon in his retirement.

Elena Dementieva left tennis so she could settle down. While I personally believe she called it quits a little early (because this could have been one of her most productive years), I was happy to see that she and long time boyfriend Max finally tied the knot this weekend in Moscow. Dinara Safina was awesome and provided us some photos from the wedding on twitter. Clearly Elena looked stunning.

Photo via @Dinarik27

There’s the possibility of another two athlete relationship on the horizon. @Omes_Tennis spotted Caroline Wozniacki and golfer Rory McIlroy out to dinner, on what appeared to be a date. The two did look awfully cozy (there were photos). There were some preliminary concerns from my Twitter timeline about Rory’s girlfriend, but his management has confirmed that they are no longer together. I guess this leaves him free to pursue other options, including the #1 tennis player. Let’s just hope this doesn’t go the way of Ana Ivanovic/Adam Scott.

Updated: I originally reposted the photos which were put on twitter, but seeing as @Omes_Tennis took them down in an effort to respect their privacy (which I wholeheartedly agree with), I thought it was only right to take them down as well. It’s what I would want people to do if this happened to me. If you want to see them, I’m sure you can find them with a quick google search.

However, it wasn’t all good news this week in the tennis world. I hesitate to put this in the same post as all this lighthearted news, but Alisa Kleybanova stunned us all with some news on her health. Alisa, who turned 22 on Friday, announced that she has been battling Stage 2 Hodgskin’s Lymphoma. This was absolutely shocking and she has received an outpouring of support from fans and players alike in the tennis community. She is receiving treatment in Italy and seems to be staying very positive. I wish you all the best Alisa, and hope to see you healthy and back on the courts as soon as possible.

Matches to Watch This Monday

Written By: achangeofends - Jun• 26•11

So, I’ve done a decent job of keeping up with this action at this year’s Wimbledon, considering I just started my new job, but I haven’t done a very good job of writing about it. The second Monday of the Wimbledon Championships is one of the best tennis days of the year. There are generally 16 superb singles matches on the schedule. It takes a great deal of skill to make it to the 4th round of a major so the matches are really high quality, but there are still a lot of matches to watch. Here are some of tomorrow’s most interesting pairings.

Rafael Nadal v. Juan Martin del Potro

Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts in his match against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller on the sixth day of the 125th Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon,England on Saturday, June 25, 2011. UPI/Hugo Philpott

On paper, this is pretty much the most interesting match up of the day. Juan Martin isn’t quite back to his ’09 form yet, but he’s getting close. Meanwhile, Rafa is looking as comfortable on the grass as he did last year. Both men have had pretty easy wins this week (with the exception of one lost set by Juan Martin) but neither has had a particularly difficult draw thus far. I think this will be a¬†competitive¬†match, but in the end Rafa has the upper hand. He’s the defending champion, he’s more comfortable on grass, and he’s playing some of his best tennis.

Prediction: Nadal in 3 close sets

Mardy Fish v. Tomas Berdych

Mardy Fish of the U.S. waves after defeating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

When the draw first came out, I sat down with a blank copy and started filling it in. When I got to the end, I realized that I had somehow decided Mardy Fish would make it to the quarterfinals. This seemed a little bit crazy, but I kind of started to believe. Mardy Fish has had the best year of his career. I watched him win the title in Newport last year on grass when he was still ranked in the 70s and since then he’s surged into the Top 10 for the first time in his career. Tomas Berdych had his best year last year after making the Wimbledon final and I really can’t seem him equaling that feat this year. However, he’s had some stunning wins this week, while Mardy has struggled a bit. In the end, this match could go either way, but I’m going with my gut.

Prediction: Fish in 4 sets

Andy Murray v. Richard Gasquet

Andy Murray of Britain celebrates after defeating Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia (R) at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

This is actually the match I’m most excited for tomorrow. Richard Gasquet is on his way back to the Top 10 and Andy Murray has looked anything but invincible this week. Murray’s never held up well under pressure, which is one of the reasons he doesn’t have a Slam title to his name yet. There’s never more pressure on Andy Murray than during Wimbledon. I read a few British newspapers on the way back from London last week and there were at least a few full pages of Wimbledon coverage in each, and well over 50% of that was focused on why Andy Murray has never won a Slam. It would be tough for anyone to ignore the expectations of the British public. I think Andy will stumble before the end of the fortnight, but I’m just not sure whether it will be tomorrow or the semis, or even the finals (ok, probably not the finals). Richard and Andy played an amazing match in the 4th round of Wimbledon 2008 and I can only hope this match will be as good.

Prediction: Murray in 4 sets

Serena Williams v. Marion Bartoli

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after defeating Maria Kirilenko of Russia at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 25, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Marion Bartoli has certainly had her best year since 2007 this year, making the finals in Indian Wells and the semifinals of the French Open and she’s back in the Top 10. In contrast, Serena Williams has had the worst year of her life. She’s had a¬†myriad of health problems and hasn’t been able to play tennis for almost a year. Yet, somehow, she’s still plowing her way through the draw. Serena may not be winning as easily as she usually does, but she’s still winning. Love her or hate her, Serena’s a fighter and Marion will have to bring her very very best to challenge her.

Prediction: Williams in 3 sets

Wimbledon Reflections: Day 4

Written By: achangeofends - Jun• 23•11

After what could only be considered an unfortunate day, I knew I could count on Wimbledon to cheer me up, or at least provide me with some entertainment. I used my lunch hour to sit out in the pouring rain at Rockefeller Plaza in NYC, where HSBC has set up a Wimbledon village of sorts. It has a big screen showing live coverage as well as some great extras, like free racquet stringing and little boxes of strawberries and cream. This meant that for the first time in weeks I actually got to watch tennis on something other than my computer and it was delightful, despite the rapture like rain and the fact that my pumps could have doubled as fish tanks.

Anyway, there was a lot of interesting news today from the All England Club. Let’s look at some of today’s best match ups.

Sabine Lisicki d. Li Na: I was pretty sure that Li Na would make an early exit at Wimbledon this year after her French Open triumph, but I was almost equally as sure that good fortune would not shine on Sabine Lisicki, who has had more than her fair share of bad luck. I was sure she was a¬†goner when she went down match point in the third, but sure enough she managed to draw herself even with Li. I didn’t dare hope that she could pull off the upset after watching her heart breaker against Zvonareva at the French Open. However, Sabine would not be carried off on a stretcher today. She would leave the court victorious and as smiley as ever. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible not to love Sabine Lisicki when she smiles.

Robin Soderling d. Lleyton Hewitt: Unfortunately every match must have a winner and a loser. Most of the time it’s easy to decide who deserves the win, but sometimes both men deserve to win and one of them still has to lose. I’ll be honest, I was pulling for Lleyton Hewitt. Nothing against Robin Soderling, but everyone loves Lleyton and a major upset at Wimbledon would be fitting for the former champion, in the twilight of his career. Hewitt is on the road back from foot surgery earlier this year, but you wouldn’t have known it today. For two sets, Lleyton appeared to be in complete control, blindsiding the world No. 5. But, Robin Soderling isn’t No. 5 for nothing. He worked his way back into the match and won a close fifth set, 6-4. A rough day at the office for Hewitt, but he definitely showed he’s not done yet.

Jo Wilfried Tsonga d. Grigor Dimitrov: I’ll admit that I’ve been skeptical of the folks who consider Grigor Dimitrov the next Roger Federer, but after watching today’s match, I must say that he is exceedingly talented. For young players, the most important factor is being able to perform on the big stage against the big guys. Dimitrov thought he could win this match. He wasn’t afraid to take some risks and that made for a very close four set encounter. Perhaps the most remarkable part of this match was the¬†camaraderie¬†between the two men. After a particularly spectacular diving shot down the line from Dimitrov, Tsonga offered up a high five as congratulations. When Grigor went down again, this time on match point, Tsonga leapt over the net to hug his opponent. How could you not love this kind of sportsmanship?

David Ferrer v. Ryan Harrison: This match isn’t even over yet and it’s already got¬†tongues wagging. Ryan is a pretty remarkable young player, if only for his ability to believe. I’ve seen him play a few times now and whether he’s playing some no name in a challenger or Roger Federer, he honestly thinks he can win, and that’s half the battle. Ferrer is extremely tough and I have an unfortunate feeling that he will eventually prevail in a fifth, because that’s what he does. However, this is an extremely encouraging match from Ryan Harrison who hasn’t had much play at the Slam level. He’s certainly made the most of his lucky loser spot. David’s had a great year already, it might be nice to see some new faces in the mix, so I’m all for Ryan closing this out in the morning.

I could write about Wimbledon all day, but I should probably cut this short. I’m hoping to be back with some more reflections tomorrow and I will try to update much more frequently as I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately. It’s been a crazy month or so, so thanks for sticking with me!

 

Roland Garros Quarterfinal Preview – The Women

Written By: achangeofends - May• 30•11

Sventlana Kuznetsova (13) vs. Marion Bartoli (11)

Svetlana Kuznetsova won this title in 2009 and yet somehow everyone seemed to have written her out of the equation this year. She’s only 25 and still has the skills it takes to win a Slam. The women’s field is wide open so it seems almost ridiculous to write off a two time Slam champion just because she’s been in a bit of a slump. Her track record at Roland Garros is stellar, a finalist in 2006, quarters in ’07, semis in ’08, and winner in ’09. Marion is carrying the French flag for the women, the only one remaining in the women’s draw. Marion has never gotten this far at Roland Garros before and the crowd should give her an extra boost of morale, which makes this match kind of a toss up.

Winner: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (14) vs. Francesca Schiavone (5)

When Francesca Schiavone won Roland Garros last year, everyone called it a surprise, a fluke, one final push for a tour veteran. However, Schiavone has backed up her performance and stuck around the Top 10 all year. It was almost laughable to believe Fran could defend her title and become a two time Grand Slam champion, yet somehow, she’s emerged as a kind of favorite. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is in her very first Grand Slam quarterfinal and had a stellar win over 3rd seed Vera Zvonareva in the 4th Round. I suppose I could call all the women’s quarterfinals a toss up, but that wouldn’t be interesting, now would it?

Winner: Francesca Schiavone

Li Na (6) vs. Victoria Azarenka (4)

Li Na had a dream run in January when she made it to the Australian Open final and then proceeded to win almost no matches. It looks like she’s found her form just in time for the second Slam on the year and that’s good to see. No one talked about her as a contender when the draw came out, but she’s been systematically working her way through. On the other hand, Azarenka has been discussed as a real threat at the last several Slams, but has yet to live up to her potential, mostly because she always seems to be injured. Vika has made the quarterfinals in Paris once before, but has never surpassed this stage of the tournament at any Grand Slam. If she can stay healthy, she has an excellent chance of winning her first major title this year in Paris.

Winner: Victoria Azarenka

Maria Sharapova (7) vs. Andrea Petkovic (15)

Maria Sharapova once described herself as a cow on ice when playing on clay, laughing off the idea of ever winning a career Grand Slam. Yet, somehow, she’s in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros for the fifth time. Her best result in Paris was a semifinal appearance in 2007, but she has an excellent chance of making that happen again this year. Petkovic is all kinds of¬†relevant right now. She’s quickly working her way up the rankings, but Maria has three Grand Slams under her belt and that’s going to make her tough to beat. Add Sharapova’s title in Rome a couple of weeks ago and her ability to claw her way back into a match even after a tough start and Andrea’s got her work cut out for her.

Winner: Maria Sharapova

Roland Garros Quarterfinals Preview – The Men

Written By: achangeofends - May• 30•11

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Robin Soderling (5)

Robin Soderling remains the only person ever to have beaten Rafa at Roland Garros. He’s beaten the defending champion two years running en route to the final. That being said, dethroning Rafa is a tall task and Robin hasn’t played his best tennis leading up to the French. While it appears Rafa may be lacking some confidence after a couple of tough losses to Djokovic this clay season, he’s still playing great tennis, whether he believes it or not. Soderling will have to come out blazing if he wants to win this. It’s possible that he can get Nadal a bit off kilter if he can grab an early lead and run with it. But to be perfectly honest, this match lies with Rafa. Roland Garros is his kingdom and if he plays his best tennis, he will win.

Winner: Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray (4) or Viktor Troicki (15) vs. Juan Ignacio Chela

This is the only quarterfinal that wasn’t quite set at the end of Monday. Last year, I watched Andy Murray crash out in the Round of 16 and I feared it was going to happen all over again when he was down two sets to love against Viktor Troicki. However, Troicki is notorious for choking against top players, even when he has the lead. This match was in his hands, but he let Murray dig his way back into the match. They will play a fifth set on Tuesday for the last spot in the quarterfinals. The winner will face surprise quarterfinalist Juan Ignacio Chela. The Argentinian is ranked 34 in the world, but he thrives on the red dirt. Chela’s best result at Roland Garros was the quarterfinals in 2004, so he’s already equaled his career best. Andy Murray should be able to close out his match against Troicki and go on to win against Chela.

Winner: Andy Murray *

Gael Monfils (9) vs. Roger Federer (3)

The 4th Round match between Gael Monfils and David Ferrer was an absolute thriller. Gael is always a showman, but he can’t always back up his theatrics with big wins. Ferrer has had an amazing clay season this year so Gael’s victory, at home in France, is a big one. He will face an even tougher challenge in the quarterfinals when he takes on Roger Federer, who has yet to drop a set in Paris this year. These two played a great semifinal match in 2008 and played again in the 2009 quarterfinals. Federer won both meetings. Monfils is one of the most athletic guys on tour so if anyone can come back from the grueling five set match against Ferrer, it’s him. No one’s been saying much about Federer’s chances in Paris, but he’s been quietly and efficiently working his way through the draw. I can’t see him having much trouble with Monfils this time around.

Winner: Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. (Fabio Fognini)

What can I say? Novak is the luckiest guy in the world. I’m starting to think the other players are actually too afraid to face him after the amount of retirements he’s received lately. Anyway, Fognini is a jerk and withdrew from his quarterfinal, sending Djokovic straight to the semis. The fact that Fognini is a jerk and his withdrawal are totally separate issues by the way. Fabio was entrenched in a tight fifth set with Albert Montanes when he called for the trainer midgame. There’s been a lot of debate over whether he should have won that match or not. It’s just sad that Montanes didn’t get the chance to move on and actually play this match.

Winner: Novak Djokovic

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