ATP Tennis 360

May 30, 2010 2:18 PM

Roland Garros: half time report

The 2010 French Open first week is behind our shoulders. In seven days Roland Garros has shown bright smiles and dark eyes, between scheduling choices hard-to-explain and

remarkable on court exploits.

His third round victory to Julien Reister (the 24th Hamburg-born qualifier has been one of the biggest upset in this edition), obtained in what the Italian journalist Rino Tommasi defined "isosceles score" (64 60 64), was specially important for Roger Federer. It was in fact his success number 700 in his career and led him into the tenth place in the all-time-ranking for match-victories. On Sunday he defeated his fellow friend Stan Wawrinka, who suffers playing against the most famous of his countrymen and had defeated Federer just once in the 2009 Montecarlo Masters where Roger arrived totally out of form and surrendered after a lacklustre performance, and came 541 victories away from the all time leader, Jimmy Connors. To leap-frog the legendary American, Federer should go on to win an average of 70 matchesper year along the next eight seasons: practically a mission impossible.
Anyway, here's the first ten positions in this ranking: 1.Connors 1242; 2.Lendl 1071; 3.Vilas 923; 4.McEnroe 875; 5.Agassi 870; 6.Edberg 806; 7.Sampras 762; 8.Nastase 755; 9.Becker 713; 10.Federer 701.

The charme of this ranking lays in the consideration that this is one of the few record Federer will not manage to beat. If he could mantain the actual standards, after the Olympic year Federer could attack the fourth position and hope to arrive, as the highest aim, in third position. Undoubtely, however, his 1000th victory will be welcomed as the 1000th Pele's goal in Rio de Janeiro.

In the tournament, Federer has also recurred more than usually to dropshots. "Throughout the match I try and feel if it's the right time to do it. I have to choose the right time. Not for the very first points of the game or the match. You can decide to have a dropshot at that moment, but to me it's mainly about tactics. I use my dropshots only when I'm convinced. You shouldn't do it for the sake of it. Today it's a lot clearer to me. This is it. It works well, and I'm going to use this against these players. I think it's good" he said after beating Wawrinka. No one could dare say he's wrong.

Rafa Nadal encountered no hurdles in his run to the final and an expected victory as the main favourite. And the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, his opponent in the next fourth round match, shouldn't be more hard to surpass. Fernando Verdasco confirmed his scarcely far-seeing scheduling arriving in Paris having played probably more than everyone else in the circuit. And this is exacerbating his frustrations and fears. His inacceptable behaviour in the Nice final against Richard Gasquet was a signal, repeated in the third round against Kohlschreiber, genius with no concreteness who in the fifth was 3-2 up and 0-30 on Verdasco's serve but slipped into complacency and lost 12 out of the next 13 points.

The Madrid-born, happy to see Jose Mourinho sign for Real after his Champions League triumph, will have to face "Nico" Almagro who is finally playing a Slam as his talent should require. The slightly fat and crotchety Spaniard can play wonderfully when he wants and has dominated the Ukrainian "raelic" guru Oleksandr Dolgopolov jr, who had defeated Fernando Gonzalez obtaining his first win over a top-20 opponent.

If Andy Roddick showed a passive mood while the surprising Russian Gabashvili bombed him from the first rally, when Sam Querrey lost without fighting because, as he said in the press conference "I wasn't enjoying myself, I was only thinking that I would be home", it's hard to find different explanation to justify the American loathing for the clay. The only meaningful exception to this rule was Robbie Ginepri, the 2005 Us Open finalist came through problems in the previous years and arrived in Paris after six consecutive defeats and the consolation of the Tallahassee Challenger's final. "There I started awakening myself". In Paris he defeated Querrey, the Italian Starace and Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4 in the fifth. Probably few will know that he's living with a strange neck injury impeding him to move correctly his head. It's something linked to his nerves in that area, and the only healing technique is burning them so that brain doesn't feel pain. The nerves will form again in 16-24 months and then the procedure has to be repeated.

The French disaster started with the unofficial "night session" between Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini. The heart of darkness wrapped up everything and obscured umpure's and supervisor's minds. In the name of the subtle hope to see the match finish before the night fell down, pressed by a naif Monfils who, despite in cramps, insisted to play supported by a knot of noisy French kids from the stands, they obtained only to let them play in the dark and didn't close the match.Monfils was defeated, as Gasquet who lost in his preferred and more predictable way. He has the almost unique adroitness to recur to an infinite arsenal of weapons, to play a beguiling tennis for a pair of sets, but then all of a sudden, possibly when being two sets and a break up, starting stammering. When the onus was on him, he led pressure and negative memories put him under the cosh, so he lost courage and slipped. As in 2008 Wimbledon fourth round, history copied history (for a minor glory) and marked the distance between human and fiendish, between mistaking and persevering.

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