Gonzalez and Soderling Into Semi-Finals

Jun 2, 2009

If Fernando Gonzalez ever gets bored of being a professional tennis player, he could become a hired assassin; load a tennis ball up with some lethal spikes, set Gonzalez within range of the target, and the Chilean could take a man out with a single forehand.

At least that was the impression I got from watching Gonzalez play Andy Murray today.

Gonzalez was exhausting to watch, so I don’t know what it was like to play him. Those deadly forehands were ruthless, jolting Murray out of any rhythm he could have got going at the baseline. There were times when Murray was able to just slice through the game and get some great points in, and Gonzalez wasn’t exactly golden when it came to unenforced errors. But when the Chilean was in control, there was little Murray could do but avoid being knocked out by the huge forehands and hope his returns don’t come up too short.

And when they did, Gonzalez punished him beautiful, brutal style.

Gonzalez took the first set but it looked like Murray was all over him in the second, and he lost it 3-6. And then came the third. A remarkable set that I doubt even Murray could explain: 6-0 to Gonzalez. It was littered with unenforced errors, with Gonzalez reaping the points with little effort on his own behalf. It was though the Scot had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the previous set, not just beaten his opponent 6-3. Bizarre.

The fourth was a beauty; for a while it was pretty much even, it could go either way. The tension moved up a notch when Murray broke Gonzalez, bringing the score 4-5.

Gonzalez returned the favour, and he had three match points available. Plenty of wiggle room for Murray, surely time was on his side and he would just need to claw his way to even-stevens to get that confidence back. But it the end, it was Murray who belted the nail into the coffin, or rather a forehand into the net.  

Gonzalez vs. Soderling; what an amazing semi-final. I wouldn’t dare put my money on one or the other; Soderling has more than proved his worth as a tough opponent but Gonzalez took no prisoners today. There were a couple of dips in his overall performance so maybe Soderling has the edge.

But if the French Open has proved one thing, it’s that things are never as certain as you may initially assume.

Looking to other areas of the tournament, Dinara Safina had a tough time beating Azarenka, but raised her game enough to make it through 3-6 6-4 6-2, and Maria Sharapova (now ranked 102 after having nine months out of the game) lost to Dominika Cibulkova in her worst defeat at a Grand Slam tournament.

Laura Robson was also defeated in the second round of the girls’ singles tournament, leaving Britain’s last vestiges of hope at the games dampened rather by the end of the day.

 

Tomorrow, Roger Federer plays Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro plays Tommy Robredo. Rolland Garros is the stage for some of the most exciting tennis of this year and tomorrow looks set to be another enthralling day.

This time tomorrow, we should know who are the last ones standing in the race to the final.

 

-          SophieG

 

 

Written by: SophieG

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