French Open 2010 Midpoint Notes

13:05 Sun 30 May 2010
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So far, it’s been an uneventful tournament on the men’s side. Roddick’s departure was shocking only because he lost to a qualifier. Steve Tignor wrote an excellent piece on that loss and the part environmental conditions played. Apart from that the biggest story was Murray’s win against Gasquet, coming back from two sets down. I recommend what Tignor wrote about that too.

As I write, the next big story is unfolding on Suzanne Lenglen, where Berdych is serving for a two-set lead against Murray. Before the match, I liked Berdych’s chances. Murray looked tough but not imposing against Gasquet, and is vulnerable to power on clay. While Berdych has blown big leads before, I doubt Murray can escape this time.

Even if Murray survives, he’s not a threat to win it. The tournament is rolling towards a Federer-Nadal final, and it’s tough to see anything disrupting that. Granted, everyone thought that last year until Söderling crashed the party, and he could do it again as he faces Federer next. He’s the biggest obstacle in Federer’s path, followed by Berdych (who Federer might meet in the semis). Söderling and Berdych have the capacity for big-serving, big-hitting days that would trouble anyone. I was impressed by how easily Söderling handled Marin Cilic today.

Still, Federer is accustomed to fending off the big hitters, and on clay will just have too much time.

In the other half of the draw, Nadal has been untroubled and looks to stay that way. I don’t see how Belucci will take a set from him. While I’d love to see Verdasco finally overcome his countryman, it’s unlikely to happen at the French. A Nadal-Djokovic semifinal is probable. Djokovic has been playing poorly for much of the clay season, but may have finally recovered from Serbia’s Davis Cup victory over the US and could challenge Nadal–if he doesn’t bow out for some unpredictable reason before that.

If it is Federer-Nadal, I don’t think it’ll be an easy Nadal victory. Federer’s chances are actually fairly good, assuming he can maintain his focus (and serve decently).

Kuznetsova, the defending women’s champion, went out to Kirilenko, who then promptly lost in straights to Schiavone. Venus Williams went out in straights to Petrova, and that half of the draw is quite open; the main question on that side is whether or not Wozniacki will make it to the final.

The other half of the women’s side is packed, with Serena Williams, Henin, and Jankovic all still in it. Williams–Henin could be a fantastic match, and I’d like to see Jankovic continue her run back to top form. I strongly suspect that the winner of Williams–Henin will take the title.

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