Since my last post, the French Open 2012 has already provided us with unbelievable matches and plenty of splendid displays from the tennis elite.
In the women’s draw, the biggest shock was the exit of Serena Williams in the first round. Since entering her first Grand Slam event in 1998, she had never lost at this stage in a major tournament. Virginie Razzano, the French number four, completed this astonishing victory after eight match points in an incredible 25-minute final game.
After my comments on Monday, saying that Maria Sharapova’s biggest obstacle in winning the career slam is Serena Williams; it should follow that Sharapova is now the outright favourite. If her first round demolition of Alexandra Cadantu, which ended in a 6-0 6-0 scoreline, is replicated on Friday then this must be the case.
The top four in the men’s game have remained fairly unmoved during their opening matches. That was until Thursday morning. The most public display of Andy Murray’s back problems was there for all to see as he limped between points and was losing by a set and 4-2. Murray looked as if a retirement from Roland Garros was his only option but miraculously he overcame Jarkko Nieminen in four sets. He now has a serious dilemma in wanting to progress at the French Open; it could be extremely damaging for his prospects at Wimbledon and London 2012.
It is without a doubt that the headlines in Friday’s papers will focus on the epic encounter between Paul-Henri Mathieu and, rather ironically, John Isner. At 5 hours and 41 minutes, the French fans were treated to five sets of pure drama. Mathieu came back from losing the first set tie-break to lead by two sets to one against the American. Yet, somehow the match continued into five sets and thoughts of the Mahut/Isner match-up arose as the game continued to follow serve.
However, the Parisian spectators will not have to return on Friday as their French hero won to make the score 18-16 in the final set. The only viewer who perhaps enjoyed the enthralling contest a little less was Sharapova, whose match was due to follow. She will now play Ayumi Morita of Japan on Friday.
Hopefully, the excitement will continue into next week and British fans will have the chance to see their sole representative in action over the Bank Holiday weekend. Although, it does look unlikely. Either way, the French Open will be essential viewing next weekend, even without Murray in the finals. The British public can simply wave their flags at the Jubilee celebrations instead.
Shot of the tournament so far
Richard Gasquet’s backhand, a pleasure to watch.