June 7, 2009

Where There Is No Norm

It's easy to forget, given recent history, that the French Open is one where upsets are the norm. Unheard of players have the opportunity win here, but then tend to go quietly into the night.

Remember Gaston Gaudio, the Argentine who won here in 2004 as the fourty-fourth ranked man -- incidentally, the last man to win before Rafael Nadal began his reign? He won a couple titles the next year, but nothing to write home about.

Or Gustavo Kuerten who took home his first of three trophies in 1997, ranked sixty-sixth? He got to #1 in the world, but never was able to cause any real damage on other surfaces.

The women's draws have had similar results -- Anastasia Myskina, Iva Majoli, and even Ana Ivanovic never made a big dent after winning here.

So given that backdrop, we shouldn't be that shocked that Robin Soderling made it to the finals in Paris. And I'm sure he's hoping desperately to, not only be the next major vanquisher of giants, but to keep his name in the headlines for years to come.

Roger Federer is clearly the favorite to win his first French Open title today, and tie Pete Sampras's record fourteen Major titles. Five games into the first set, it looks like he's on track to do just that. We'll see if Soderling is able to pull out another huge upset -- beating both Rafa and Roger in one Slam would be a feat beyond compare.

Whatever the results, I'm hoping it's a good fight!

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