ATP Tennis 360

June 3, 2010 5:30 AM

Roland Garros quarters: ups and downs

C_3_TopNews_89739_foto.jpgWe only have one candle, to burn down to the handle: no matter what they say, no matter if they say you're the G.O.A.T., you can't live forever in the ethernal shape of triumph. Even Roger Federer had to obey to this law while Robin Soderling went on to send whipping forehands drawing the lines. And accept, as some thirty years ago nobody could beat Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row, evev he can't impose 13 consecutive defeats to the muscular Swedish, who had already against the Swiss earlier this season in the exhibition tournament host in Abu Dhabi.

On the soaked red clay the raking Soderling's forehands bounced quick and low, Roger hadn't time to go round the backhand to play inside-out forehands from the ad side and on the left diagonal he saw a dream vanish. Soderling gave him all to make the Chatrier a place worth playing in, and with the help of Magnus Norman he did it. And Federer with every probability will have to delay his chance to beat the only record held by Pete Sampras yet surviving, his 286 weeks passed as the world best player. The more, he had to stop the astonishing series of 23 consecutive semis in Grand Slam events: his last major defeat short of th semis was at the 2004 Roland Garros against Guga Kuerten.

Beauty will save the world - Or at least the Roland Garros. More dostojevskian than Janko Tipsarevic, who had the sentence tattoed on his forearm, Jurgen Melzer was a precious genius at work. And as every respectable genius, he passed through every emotion, from a Playstation tennis made of unpredictable geometries and volleys making more than a eyebrow raising in upset to mistakes explicable only as the dark side of the genius. His comeback victory ovr Djokovic after 4 hours and 15 of hard-fought tennis was a masterpiece of skill and personality. The first was largely displayed during the third, fourth and fifth set, the second made him win. In the tenth game of the decider, Melzer had the easiest of match points, a forehand volley just to cross with Nole in the opposite angle waiting for the handshaking. Instead the ball ent to the net: deuce. If Djokovic had broken, would have Melzer succeeded in forgetting what happened? Nobody knows. Because the Serb didn't break, Melzer played quicker and quicker, with pure instinct, refusing to think. He saved two break points, one with an astonishing forehand acceleration from the center, and then Novak netted three forehand returns in the last game, when Novak was also slightly unlucky when the umpire Bernardes valued wide the crosscourt passing shot that would let him 0-30 up: the Hawk Eye showed it was good.

No suspense - Watching a Spanish derby involving Nadal on the clay is like watching a crime movie knowing who the murderer is. Almagro confirmed again he can play a perfect tennis, but playing well and winning are two different sports. Almagro is ideal in the first, but became a bit subservient when forced to play the second, where instead Nadal is the greatest champion.

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