The second round concluded today at the French Open, but not without one great big surprise.
After winning the previous two grand slam events, #2 Kim Clijsters was beaten by world number 114 Arantxa Rus, who represents the city of Monster, South Holland. But the name of Rus’ place of residence isn’t the only intriguing thing about her. The 20 year-old left-hander hovers around six feet tall and has the body structure of an attractive Peter Crouch. Or Shawn Bradley, for any NBA fans out there. And with a win over a player like Clijsters, the Dutchwoman may be on track for an ascension in the WTA rankings, and perhaps eventually a place in the conversation for the Hottie Belt.
Rus faced two match points in the second set, but Clijsters failed to take advantage and made a surprising early exit that only serves to to inflate the dreams of the other contenders, who already did not have to deal with either Williams sister in this year’s tourney.
There was almost another huge upset right afterward, as world number 188 Caroline Garcia of France took a 6-3, 4-1 lead on #7 Maria Sharapova, and had the serve to go up 5-1. But the 17 year-old Garcia was unable to win another game, as 24 year-old Maria decided to rattle off eleven games in a row against an opponent that had to remind her of herself more than a little. Garcia’s game was aggressive, and for a while it was working. That style of play worked for Sharapova when she was 17 years old and won Wimbledon. Many people are talking about the young Garcia as the next big thing in women’s tennis, as Andy Murray acted like he had never seen a Sharapova match before, and tweeted during the second set that Garcia would become a world number one someday. That still may be true, but saying something like that usually implies that you believe that person will prevail on that day, and Garcia did not prevail. Impressively, tennis legend Martina Navratilova said that she liked Sharapova’s chances when the score was about to become 3-6, 2-4 against Maria. Nice call Martina.
There wasn’t a whole lot of intrigue on the men’s side, but it is worth noting that Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic won a fifth set against #28 Nikolay Davydenko. I’m not surprised that Davydenko was bounced, because he often is. But it is always a nice story when a qualifier reaches the third round of a grand slam. Veic’s next opponent is Rafael Nadal.
In other news, #8 Jurgen Melzer was ousted in five sets by Lukas Rosol, a native of the Czech Republic. Nothing to really talk about there, as nobody thought Melzer was a serious threat to win the tournament anyway. Also, one of my favorite unknown players, Alejandro Falla, was victorious in four sets over #20 Florian Mayer, and has as wide open a path to the quarterfinals as he could ever have, where he would theoretically run into Andy Murray.
Friday’s men’s schedule is highlighted by the following matches:
– #2 Novak Djokovic v. #25 Juan Martin del Potro; this match is only highly anticipated because of Delpo’s name and pedigree. It won’t be close.
– #3 Roger Federer v. #29 Janko Tipsarevic; Tipsy has given Federer runs for his money before, and that’s when Rog was Rog. Still though, Federer in four.
– #7 David Ferrer v. #31 Sergiy Stakhovsky; this is probably going to be the best match to watch, as both players play excellent defense and have a creative arsenal of shots. I’ll take Ferrer in five.
– #14 Stan Wawrinka v. #17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France; I love watching the Frenchmen play at home because the crowd actually gets into it and gives a damn. Also, these are two very good players who are both probably sitting at the B table of men’s tennis. Tsonga figures it out and wins in five.
The women’s schedule isn’t too intriguing yet, except for the fact that every player can lose… Tomorrow is led by the following, I suppose:
– #1 Caroline Wozniacki v. #28 Daniela Hantuchova, only because it involes Woz. Though it’s always risky, I like Caroline in two sets. I’ve never liked Hantuchova’s ability to finish.
– #11 Marion Bartoli of France v. #17 Julia Goerges, who has been on fire in the clay season. This one kind of screams “Roller Coaster Theory,” as Goerges has been among the talk of the tour lately, and has been pegged as the best bet to win the tournament amongst all “dark horses.” Since Bartoli’s at home and has been here before, I’ll take her to win in three.
– #10 Jelena Jankovic v. Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA; the clamor for Jankovic to win a grand slam has gone silent, and been transferred to new #1 Wozniacki, but that might be the perfect time for Jankovic to break through. Jankovic was formerly #1 for a few minutes in 2008, and has made the semifinals of the French Open in three of the previous four years. I like Jankovic in three sets, because it’s never a good idea to pick her in two.