May 29, 2012

The Days That Shook the Earth

Well it's official -- you can never tell what's going to happen at Roland Garros.

With one round's worth of action in the books, I'm not sure whether we've had any more or fewer upsets than in previous years, but we've sure seen some results none of us could have expected. And the surprises just got bigger and bigger over time.

On day one Andy Roddick took the court against co-marathon man Nicolas Mahut in one of the matches I pegged as a potential upset. The American tried to rally a bit in the third set, but it was all for naught as his opponent -- who'd only won one match in his nine Paris appearances -- took him out in the fourth. A day later world #1 Victoria Azarenka nearly became the fifth straight Major winner to take an early plane home from their subsequent Slam when she found herself down a set and two breaks to current #103 Alberta Brianti. But the Belarusian, no stranger to digging deep, found a way to rally and rattled off six straight games, winning twelve of the last fourteen to notch the win.

But of course the biggest shocker came earlier today when Madrid champion Serena Williams, widely thought to be the favorite here despite her fifth seed, essentially crumbled at the hands of veteran Virginie Razzano, a woman who's lost in the first round here seven times. Securely in the lead at 5-1 in the second set tiebreak, the 2002 champion was two points from the win when she things turned south -- she lost six straight points and the set and watched Razzano, who lost her fiancé just before this tournament last year, run off to a 5-0 lead in the decider. Four games later Williams was walking off the court, her earliest ever exit at a Major. And for her efforts the Frenchwoman, who has beaten the likes of Kaia Kanepi, Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova in the last couple years, gets her first second round at her home Slam since 2009.

It may not seem like a lot -- after all, the top fourteen men's seeds are still alive, and the three guys who most expect are the only real contenders for the title each sailed through their openers. And all recent winners of the ladies' trophy as well as favorites like Maria Sharapova and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur have had little trouble advancing. But that doesn't mean there aren't more surprises in store, and the hopefuls that are able to best take advantage could see rewards even they were never expecting.

1 comment:

ccmack said...

Serena's defeat makes Sharapova the favourite from this half of the draw. I quite fancy a Stosur run from the top half.