Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crashing Out

Maria Sharapova turned things around in time to avoid a shocking 2nd round defeat today, but Kim Clijsters wasn't so lucky.

Maria Sharapova was down a set and two breaks against the seemingly imperturbable 17-year-old Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia this afternoon. In the broadcast booth, Martina Navratilova and Mary Carillo were gushing with praise for the young Garcia, stating that she was going to be around for a long time. Meanwhile, the french faithful were getting rowdy, doing their waves during the changeovers to keep warm.

Garcia's effort at the time was so convincing that it inspired Andy Murray to tweet that she would be number one in the world someday.

In the end, all the praise faded into the distance and all we could hear was the frightening shriek of a woman possessed. Sharapova won going away, and established herself as the favourite in a quarter of the draw that saw Kim Clijsters unceremoniously eliminated by Arantxa Rus of Holland earlier in the day.

Such is life on a blustery day in Paris. One minute your the cat's meow, the next your sleeping in a litter box.

Clijsters became the first woman seeded 1 or 2 to lose before the third round of the French Open since Justine Henin in 2004, but she wasn't the only big name to go crashing out of the French in the first two rounds.

Here's a list of some other seeds who crashed out early:

Marin Cilic (19) -- The No. 19 seed lost to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of spain in four sets in round 1. It's been nothing but mixed results since the promising Croat made the Australian Open semis in 2010. He and his team aren't focused on results, but it's about more than results for Cilic -- he just isn't playing consistent ball, and he lacks emotion too.

Tomas Berdych (6) -- A semifinalist at Roland Garros last year, Berdych has now managed to crash out in the first round of two of the last three Grand Slams. Credit his French opponent Stephane Robert for playing lights out tennis, but Berdych blew a two set lead, and that is just inexcusable.

Ana Ivanovic (20)-- It's not surprising any more when Ana loses early in a Slam. Ana, seeded 20, was taken out by Swede Johanna Larrson in the first round. Injuries have kept Ana from finding her best form of late, to be sure, but it feels like she's also regressed a bit after parting ways with Heinz Gunthardt last year.

Flavia Pennetta (18) -- That's two losses in the first round to two unheralded Americans in the last three years for the No. 18 seed. The good news for Pennetta fans is that she's already through to the third round of the doubles draw.

Shahar Peer (19) -- The Israeli was teetering on the cusp of being the first top tenner from her homeland a few months ago. But the 19 seed couldn't get by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the first round, and will likely drop out of the top 20 after Roland Garros.

Michael Llodra (22) -- A horrible French Open for the No. 22 seed, who threw a ball at a security guard and was bounced by a qualifier in the first round. Llodra was looking to compete in the mixed doubles with Amelie Mauresmo but that fell through when she was not allowed to compete. He's still alive in dubs, though.

Nicolas Almagro (11) -- The No. 11 seed crashed out against Lukasz Kubot of Poland in the first round. Kubot's a fine clay-courter, but Almagro had a two set lead then lost two tiebreakers before finally bowing out in five. Almagro entered the French with the ATP's third best clay-court record and three title on the dirt. Go figure.

Milos Raonic (26) -- Maybe someday the hard-serving Canadian will be good on clay. But the No. 26 still has some work to do, as his first round loss to German Michael Berrer indicates.

Nikolay Davydenko, Sam Querrey, Marcos Baghdatis -- No surprises here, but they were seeded 28, 24, and 27 respectively.

Other seeds to fall before round 3:

Men: Florian Mayer (20), Kevin Anderson (32)
Women: Tsvetana Pironkova (32), Alexandra Dulgheru (27), Klara Zakovpalova (31)

Hot off the presses! Jurgen Melzer(8) loses to Lukas Rosol in five


  1. Prior to the start of RG, there was definitely a feeling of uncertainty in the air for the top seeds. Shocking that Kim lost in the 2nd rd., but she doesn't seem to be at her best on clay. Great to see so many newcomers challenging the top players.

    This particular Slam seems to be more about old guard vs. new guard than about which top seed will take the title.

    Silver lining: There's much more to write about when things don't go as expected ;)

  2. Old guard (Maria, Schiavone, Li,Stosur, Vera ) vs. New guard (Germans, Vika, Woz,Kvitova, Pavs) -- Yeah I can see that. It's getting better by the minute.

  3. Ana actually lost the 3rd set 2-6. She herself bageled Larsson in the 2nd. Either way, it hurts.

    I wish she had stayed with Heinz. Everything seemed to start clicking again with him as coach. :( Hoping grass is where the magic is at this year.

  4. Curtis -- thanks for correcting. Ana's got lots of time and lots of hunger. She's gonna come good.


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