The French Open excitement is well under way

May 13, 2011

As I brace myself to write my first blog since the end of the Australian Open, I can feel that familiar wash of nostalgia and enjoyment come over me. Things have changed, quite hugely, since the end of the Australian Open, but coming back to the sport after such a long time is like putting on your comfiest pyjamas, pair of slippers, and favourite television show. It just feels right.

Like I said, things have changed since the last Grand Slam, particularly in the men’s side of the game. Where did this fantastic form of Djokovic come from? 36 straight wins? I wonder what sort of pep-talk this man had with himself on New Year’s Eve. We were all pleasantly surprised by his win at the Australian Open; Djokovic has always hovered around the top end of the rankings, but he has only had one title to his name and after a while people started to wonder how long it will be before he started to drop like a stone. And then he nabbed the Australian Open title seemingly from the blue.

A few months down the line, and he has yet to come down from his superb high. We’ve had another sign of the Apocalypse as well: Novak Djokovic even managed to beat Rafael Nadal on clay in Madrid last week. My face still hurts from the slack-jaw that news gave me. Nadal had been on a two year-winning streak when it came to clay. For all intents and purposes the man’s official name was Rafael Nadal King of Clay. And then Djokovic, who had always been much better on the hard courts and was rarely ‘the one to beat’ on grass or clay, beat him at the Madrid Masters. In even more stunning news, if Nadal fails to get to the semi finals and Djokovic wins in Rome, then he becomes world number one.

Rome is starting to become a cauldron of emotion and ranking-politics. Federer has just been beaten by France’s Richard Gasquet in a 3 set stunner by the Frenchman, and Djokovic is one successive victory over Federer (35) and Nadal (32). He has even over-taken Bjorn Borg’s 1978 winning streak, and is catching up on Federer’s 2006-7 winning streak of 41. Nadal is struggling with a fever in Rome and found it difficult against Feliciano Lopez in his second round match. With his form a little wobbly thanks to illness, he could find it difficult against his next opponent: Marin Cilic. Djokovic can smell the world’s top ranking and is enjoying his game more than ever. A happy Novak is a dangerous Novak, and it seem as his mood and outlook has picked up so has his tennis.

In other news, Andy Murray has seen his form drop again after a disappointing Australian Open final. Loss after loss has unsettled the Scot, and drama over his coach has only added to the worry. He is still, however, hanging on at number four in the world and is so far looking impressive at Rome. His hair has taken a turn for the worse though. The Murray brothers seeming to have swapped hair for the time being, with Jamie losing the afro look and turning to a more conservative short-cut job, with his brother taking on the curly ‘fro. Maybe there are some tennis secrets in that new hair of his. We shall see.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams has announced that she will not be playing in the French Open due to the foot injury that has plagued her since Wimbledon. Her sister Venus is also in doubt, struggling to recover from a recent abdominal industry. Dinara Safina has also pulled out due to a persistent back injury, and has decided to take ‘an indefinite break’ from tennis. She cites the exhaustion of having to fight with her own body to be fit, and after such a long time being up and down in form thanks to her fitness no-one can blame her. I’m sure the fans will be supporting her decision and wishing her the best in her time off, however long it may be.

The good news coming out of these awful injury drop-outs is that some more players have been thrown into the mix: Britain’s Anne Keothavong has been put into the main draw as well as Anna Tatishvili from Georgia. The Brussels Open that starts on the 22nd May will give the best indication as to how the French Open will shape up for the women’s French Open.

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

(1) Comment

Arvis says:
May 16, 2011

Good blog, I enjoyed the read!

After Rome now, I don’t see how Djokovic isn’t the favorite for the French Open. Some might say “oh, but it’s 5 set format” but I think that would just make it HARDER to beat Novak right now!

He’ll be on my fantasy team either way.

-Arvis

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