The Roland Garros Report Card: Who impressed and who disappointed in Paris - UBITENNIS
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The Roland Garros Report Card: Who impressed and who disappointed in Paris

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TENNIS – The 2014 Roland Garros crowned Rafa Nadal for the ninth time and Maria Sharapova for the second time. The French Open was also been highlighted by Ernests Gulbis who reached the semifinal after beating Roger Federer in the third round and revealed rising stars like Eugenie Bouchard, Garbine Muguruza, Ajla Tomljanovic, Ajla Tomljanovic. It’s time to look back at the most successful players and those who disappointed more in the two exciting weeks in the French capital. Diego Sampaolo

The King and the Queen of Clay

Rafa Nadal: Rafa has been crowned as the King of the Roland Garros for the ninth time becoming the first player to win so many titles in a Major. He won the last five editions with 66 match wins and just one defeat in ten years against Robin Soderling in 2009. With 14 Majors the Mallorcan legend has tied Pete Sampras as the the second most successful Grand Slam winner. Only Roger Federer was more successful with 17 Grand Slams. Only Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer won a Grand Slam tournament for five consecutive editions. Moreover he has extended his winning streak at the Roland Garros to 35 victories and improved his winning record to 23-19 in head-to-head matches against Djokovic

He did not enjoy a particularly successful build-up to the Roland Garros on his favourite clay surface to his traditional extraordinary standards. He suffered quarter final exits in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona before winning his only European clay tournament in Madrid (he was on the verge of defeat against Kei Nishikori who suffered an unlucky back injury in the most crucial stage of the match). He lost in three sets against Novak Djokovic in a close three-set match in Rome in the final tournament before Paris. In the French capital he recovered from a set down in the final against Djokovic but he edged the Serb in four sets with 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4. He lifted his ninth Roland Garros Trophy after dropping just sets in the whole tournament

Maria Sharapova: The Siberian Queen of Clay faced three very hard battles in which she recovered from a set down in three consecutive matches to reach the final. She again had to fend off a tough match in the match against Romanian 22-year-old Simona Halep in which she was forced to third set for the fourth time in the tournament. This year Masha has enjoyed a successful clay campaign on clay winning three tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and the Roland Garros.

Sharapova did not played her best tennis during the tournament. She was two games from losing against Sam Stosur. She was one game from dropping the quarter final match against Garbine Muguruza in the quarter final and one game from losing against Eugenie Bouchard in the semifinal but she raised the game in the most crucial moments of the tournament and celebrated her second triumph at Porte d’Auteuil two years after beating Sara Errani in 2012. Sharapova has moved from 8th to 5th in the WTA Ranking.

“This was the toughest Grand Slam final I have ever played. All the respect to Simona. She played an unbelievable match”She had an amazing two weeks and this is just the first step. Simona will have an incredible career”, said Sharapova.

The runners-up:

Novak Djokovic: The Serb missed the chance to win the only elusive Grand Slam time of his career and complete the Career Grand Slam. He dropped his first set of the tournament in the semifinal against Ernests Gulbis in the semifinal before losing a four-set battle in the final against Nadal. In the final Djokovic made a crucial double fault handing the win to Nadal. In the final he won the first set but Nadal bounced back to clinch his third match against Djokovic in three consecutive editions of the Roland Garros after the final in 2012 and the epic semifinal in 2013.

Simona Halep: The 22-year-old Romanian player has completed her rise from the 57th spot in the Ranking in 2013 to her career-high Number 3 overtaking Agniewska Radwanska after her incredible Roland Garros in which she won three consecutive matches in straight sets against Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter final and Andrea Petkovic in the semifinal. In the final she forced Sharapova to the third set and give the Siberìan star a run for her money

“This is my first Grand Slam speech, but I wish to have many more in the future”, said Halep after the Roland Garros final. She will certainly have the chance to celebrate her first Grand Slam in the future if she continues to play so well.

The come-back of the tournament:

Andy Murray: Clay is not the favourite surface for Murray but the Scotsman has showed encouraging improvement reaching the quarter final in Rome and the semifinal in Paris losing on both occasions to Nadal. In Rome he played a great match against King Rafa losing a hard-fought match in the third set. In Paris Nadal was simply too strong but Murray is gradually reaching top form and his coach relationship with Amelie Mauresmo could boost his confidence ahead of his title defence at Wimbledon.

Gael Monfils: The Frenchman pleased the local crowd with an impressive win in a roller-coaster third round match against Fabio Fognini 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2. He went on to reach the quarter final where he lost 4-6 1-6 6-4 0-6 against Andy Murray.

Ana Petkovic: The German player beat 2012 finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2 in the quarter final achieving a great result especially considering that the Italian clay specialist beat Jelena Jankovic in the quarter final two weeks after reaching the final in Rome. Her dream ended in the semifinal where she lost to Halep in three sets. . She faced rivals who are ranked Number 71 or lowerin the early rounds but the semifinal is a well-deserved prize after so many injury problems. She has showed the same form which propelled to a career high World Number 9 in 2011.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: The 2009 Roland Garros champion played one of the best matches of the tournament against Petra Kvitova in the third round. The Russian player edged the 2011 Wimbledon champion in three sets with 6-7 6-1 9-7.

Other good notes go to:

Carla Suarez Navarro: The Spanish player reached the quarter finals without dropping a single set before losing against Eugenie Bouchard in the round of eight.

Sara Errani: The Italian player reached her third consecutive quarter final after a great win in the fourth round against Jelena Jankovic but she lost in round of 8 against Petkovic. Errani also reached the final in the doubles with her close friend Roberta Vinci but the Italians lost against Peng Shuai and Hsieh We who won 11 of the final 13 points

Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger Vasselin: French crowd had something to celebrate as Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger Vasselin became the first French doubles winners at the Roland Garros in 23 years after beating Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-3 7-6. It was just their third Grand Slam tournament together.

The major surprises:

Milos Raonic: The young Canadian is continuing to make big progress on clay. He followed the semifinal in Rome (where he lost against Djokovic in three sets) with a quarter final in Paris (losing again to Djokovic in straight sets). He has become the first ever player from Canada to reach the quarter final at the Roland Garros and has moved a step closer to reaching the ATP Finals in London at the end of the season.

Ernests Gulbis: He followed up his win win in Nice in the warm-up to Paris with a remarkable semifinal in the French capital where he knocked out Roger Federer in the fourth round after a five-set epic match and Tomas Berdych in the quarter final. He reached his first Grand Slam semifinal where he forced Novak Djokovic to the fourth set. He jas joined the Top-10 for the first time in his career.

Garbine Muguruza: The young Spanish player produced the major upset of the tournament knocking out defending champion Serena Williams in the second round and advanced to the quarter final where she lost a hard-fought battle against Sharapova.

Taylor Townsend: She was the sensation of the first week when she reached the third round in her Grand Slam debut. She beat Alizè Cornet in the second round before losing against Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round.

Eugenie Bouchard: At the age of 19 she has already reached two Grand Slam semifinals after reaching this stage at this year’s Australian Open. Sharapova had to dig deep to beat the young Canadian. It’s a matter a time before Bouchard could join Sharapova in the list of Grand Slam champions.

Ana Tomljanovic: The 21-year-old player beat 2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Elena Vesnina in the second round and Agniewska Radwanska in the third round before losing to Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round

The major disappointments:

Roger Federer: The Swiss Maestro, Roland Garros winner in 2009, played just one match in the five weeks between the end of the Monte-Carlo and the start of the French Open following the birth of twin sons Lenny and Leo and this had an impact on his preparation for the Roland Garros. He lost in five sets in the fourth round against Gulbis but he will have the chance to bounce back on his favourite green surface in Halle and Wimbledon in the coming weeks

Stan Wawrinka: The Lausanne player came to Paris with the dream to win a back-back Grand Slam tournament after clinching the Australian Open last January. He won his first Master 1000 in Monte-Carlo on clay which boosted his hopes to lift the Roland Garros crown but he suffered a major upset losing to Guillermo Garcia Lopez in the first round. The Spaniard, who won in Marrakesh and reached the quarter final in Monte-Carlo on clay earlier this year, inflicted a bagel in the fourth and final set.

Grigor Dimitrov: He travelled to Paris with high hopes following his semifinal in Rome (where he lost to Nadal in straight sets) but he suffered a first-round defeat against Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic in the first round. The young Bulgarian could find some consolation when his girlfriend Maria Sharapova lifted her second Roland Garros Trophy.

Serena Williams: Serena was looking to score her second consecutive Rome-Paris double but she suffered the major upset of the tournament against Garbine Muguruza, who went on to reach the quarter final.

Li Na: The reigning Australian Open champion and World Number 2 could not replicate her triumph in 2011 as she lost in the first round against Kristina Mladenovic.

Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pole started well with Zhang and Pliskova in the first two rounds but she lost in the third round against Tomljanovic

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Marcos Baghdatis Announces Retirement After Wimbledon

Marcos Baghdatis has announced that he will retire after this year’s Wimbledon.

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Marcos Baghdatis (@marcosbaghdatis - Twitter)

Marcos Baghdatis has announced that he will retire from tennis after competing at this year’s Wimbledon. 

 

The 34 year-old Cypriot has been playing on the tour 16 years now and has had a stellar career which has seen him be a grand slam finalist as well as reach a career high ranking of eight in the world.

However, his ranking has dipped to 138 in the world having only won three matches on the ATP World Tour this year.

Therefore it was surprising to say the least when he received a wildcard for Wimbledon this year as his last ATP tournament was in Dubai in February.

But now the reason for the wildcard is that Baghdatis is retiring from tennis after the last tournament of his career at SW19 in a couple of weeks time.

The Cypriot took to Facebook and his website to address his fans and explain the reason for his decision to retire:

“I wanted to take the time to write to you all and let you know that this upcoming Wimbledon will be my last tournament as a tennis professional,” Baghdatis explained in his statement.

“I am extremely grateful to the AELTC for granting me a Main Draw Wild-Card at the All England Club, and giving me a chance to say goodbye to the sport that I love so much and has been such a big part of my life for the last 30+ years.

“This decision was not an easy one. It has proven tough for me, especially physically, to come back to where I feel like I belong. Even though my mind wants to do it, the limits of my body have prevented me to maintain and play at a consistent high level as I expect from myself. Especially the last two years have been very difficult for me with recurring injuries and pain.

“Besides that, I have a beautiful wife, two young daughters, and a third child on the way and I could not be more excited to spend more time with all of them at home. Although I am sad to say goodbye to the sport as an active player, I am very excited for the next chapter of my life – I am going to be staying heavily involved in tennis in a number of capacities, so you will continue to see me on the tour.

“Lastly, there are so many people to thank who have been a part of this incredible journey with me, starting with my family first and for all. To all the people that have helped me become the person and tennis player I am today, I say thank you, especially to my Mum and Dad who supported me since the age of 3 to play tennis.

“Thank you for always believing in me and pushing me to become better. My team, my close friends, but especially the fans around the world. You made me feel welcome in each and every city and country I have ever been to, and your love, support, and energy is something I will truly miss.”

After winning four career ATP titles and reaching a grand slam final, the Cypriot has obviously reached a decision to retire and have one final moment in the headlines at Wimbledon.

The 34 year-old will hope for a good draw as Wimbledon starts on Monday the 1st of July.

 

 

 

 

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The Future Is Bright…

The Gerry Weber Open was until it wasn’t any longer, then Noventi stepped in….

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(@ATPHalle - Twitter)

By Mark Winters

 

For twenty-six years, the Gerry Weber Open was one of the foremost grass court tournaments in the world. It is played two weeks before The Championships, as Wimbledon is known, and it put Halle, Germany on the tennis map. It has epitomized a small town’s commitment to the game, and has, justifiably, earned the nickname “The People’s Tournament”. Because of  the local attitude, almost everyone in region has sacrificed in order to make the ATP 500 a significant tennis championships.

That was then, and this is now…

On June 7, the Noventi Group, a company which provides a variety of health care services, stepped in to rescue Halle, as the GWO is known. Noventi, taking a page from its health care proforma, offered needed financial resuscitation.

Having covered Halle since its inception, I have a fondness for the tournament, (as does my wife, Cheryl Jones, who is a regular Ubitennis contributor). In 1993, when Gerry Weber, the millionaire clothing manufacturer turned tournament sponsor, and his partner Udo Hardieck decided to stage a grass court tournament in Germany as preparation for Wimbledon, it seemed to be a very risky move. As things turned out, it was a decision that defined why the duo, Weber and Hardieck, were such successful businessmen.

But they didn’t do it alone. They were assisted by the “must visit” travel poster-like location of the tournament. The quaint setting is lights-out different from the crushing congestion that exists at the Fever Tree Open (formerly Queen’s), which takes place in London at the same time. The serenity found in the Westfalen countryside is special. Its appeal has been added to by the number of “name players” who regularly performed at the event. Topping the list is Roger Federer. After winning Halle for the tenth time today, it would seem appropriate , in time, to name the championships in his honor. Federer’s dominance aside, the June week on grass in Germany has, justifiably, earned praised from players and tennis fans, alike.

The transition from the Gerry Weber Open to the Noventi Open made a number of  impressions. Here are a few thoughts:

Perhaps, after spending twenty-six years, under the same title banner, the Noventi Open just didn’t seem to have the same “ring”…

Walking around the site, it was almost as if those working at tournament were “anxious”, waiting to see what would take place…

Though one could not “see it or  taste it”, there seemed to be a different “feel”…

One thing was very perceivable – Prices – had risen. It didn’t matter if it was tickets, pretzels or charming “take one home” teddy bears, there was an increase. (As an example, pretzels, which used to be three for five Euros were three for six Euros, fifty. Parked, or so it seemed, for years, teddy bears jumped from ten Euros to twelve. While on the subject of parking, the cost of leaving one’s car in one of the tournament’s lot was also “bumped” up.)

But, it would probably be more accurate to say the increases were simply the result of doing business in 2019…

As a result of Phil Thorn’s craftmanship, the courts played very true. There was nary a bad bounce. Once again, he lived up to the title –  “Keeper of the Lawns” (a position he has held since the beginning of the tournament)…

For some time, the Noventi Group had been looking for a business involvement that would provide a sensible way to expand its healthcare focus. When the company learned that the Gerry Weber Open was searching for a title sponsor, a new platform was found.

Michael Silvio Kusche, CMO Marketing at Noventi said, the company was really fascinated by the tournament, sometimes even speechless about the quality of the event.  They had been looking for quite a while  for a tennis event they could support. The background has two aspects: making the name Noventi known in Germany and coming next – promoting the App “callmyApo” where the public can order medicine and drugs online.

Studies have conclusively proven that those who play the game recreationally on a regular basis have longer lives. Becoming immersed in the “The Sport of a Lifetime” is a savvy move for Noventi.

From all indications, the new partnership was a success. This year, more spectators attended the tournament than ever before. More important, they were not on hand to see “only the names.” The Stadion, as well as Courts 1 and 2, were filled whenever  a match took place. This was a first and a wonderful prelude for 2020.

True, this was the first year of  the NO replacing the GWO, but “The Future Is Bright…”

 

 

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Number Ten For Federer In Halle

In just under an hour and a half, Roger Federer claimed the trophy at the Noventi Open.

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Roger Federer (@ATPHalle - Twitter)

By Cheryl Jones

 

Roger Federer won his tenth title in Halle this afternoon. The inaugural Noventi Open crowned its first singles winner. I have seen every one of his victories. I’ve seen his two losses in the final showdown, as well. (In 2012, German, Tommy Haas came out on top. Last year, Borna Coric defeated him in a tight match.) His first win was in 2003. He has won nine more. He became a professional in 1998, and to quote Sonny Bono, “the beat goes on” – especially for Federer.

Today was Federer’s big day in the sun. Belgian, David Goffin began the match with a valiant effort to try and dethrone the all-time champ. After Goffin lost the first set in a Tie-Break his confidence seemed to wane. The fifty-three minute first set was merely a speed bump in the on-ramp to Federer’s highway toward his especially successful run here in Halle. The second set took thirty minutes to complete. After several double-faults by Goffin, Federer’s tenth win was in the history books.

After the match, I asked him about the surface of the courts that to me appeared to be the best of the nineteen finals I have witnessed here in Halle. He was very thoughtful in his response and said that clearly the Belgian had out played him in the first ten games. The rhythm of the game had been swayed by the Tie-Break, or so it seemed. It was a pleasure to watch the two players move freely around a court that had predictable bounces and rallies that weren’t cut short by bad rebounds that often happen on grass.

Goffin began with a valiant effort to dethrone Halle’s long-standing champ. The match was quick. An hour and twenty-three minutes had ticked away on the courtside clock when it was all over but the shouting.

A very partisan crowd went ballistic, leaping to their feet as one. It was a beautiful day and the match was begun soon after one-o’clock. The sky was blue, and the retractable roof had stayed open most of the time during the week-long tournament. There were no rain delays. I am sure the players appreciated the pause free schedule. (I have always wondered just how relaxed anyone could be waiting and waiting and waiting some more, for the words that begin play after a rain delay. Listening to a favourite CD must even lose its calming ability after the tenth loop.)

On paper the match appeared to show an evenly matched pair of competitors. Before the final, Federer had twenty-six aces and Goffin had twenty-eight. (After the match, each of them had tallied 7 more.) Most every other statistic seemed to favour Federer. But then again, in the long run, Federer held up the winner’s trophy. The crowd was happy, and it showed by their patient wait for the presentation after the match.

My fellow University of Oregon alum, Phil Knight saw something special in a kid from Switzerland in 1994. He signed him to a contract that included footwear and apparel. He wore the Nike brand until March of 2018. He then moved to a Japanese corporation’s clothing, but stuck with Nike shoes, sans contract. His deal with Uniqlo is dazzling – thirty million dollars a year. It may seem excessive, but with an athlete the calibre of Federer, it may be a bargain. He is listed as one of the highest earning athletes in the world – a wonderful representative for the sport of tennis.

Lest one believe that Goffin went away with only a whimper. That was not the case. He did perform exceptionally well in the first set, but as he said, “I didn’t miss a lot. I made him run. I was really aggressive. I was serving great, but Roger is there.” Yes, he was. Then a couple of double faults appeared in Goffin’s column and voila, the match was in the bag for the Swiss man who has wowed the tennis world since his first win here in 2003. Back then, he moved on to Wimbledon where he started a precedent in London with a win at Wimbledon that year, too.

Goffin praised his opponent on many occasions in his after match interview. He said that, “I think the way he is playing now he wants to play more aggressive, his serve is even better than before and then he tries to go to the net to be aggressive to cut the point as soon as he can. And, then in two or three shots, he is still very fast, very explosive, great footwork. So, he’s still in good shape.”

I agree. Wimbledon, Watch out for Roger Federer. He may be nearing thirty-eight, but from what I saw today, he still has it!

 

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