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LaRosa's 2010 French Open Blog - Week 2

6/6/2010 4:00:00 PM

Catch up on James' weekly column: LaRosa's Sweet Spot |

Check back daily throughout the French Open as our resident blogger, James LaRosa, offers up his humorous and poignant take on the day's action.

Day 15 - 6/6/2010 - 1:06AM PT

We've rolled around in the mud for two weeks, and now that we've crowned a King and Queen of the Dirt Prom, it's time to honor the best, the worst and the JIGGA WHAT? of the 2010 French Open. Ladies and gentlemen, the DUNLOP AWARDS.  Winners, try to keep your acceptance speeches under 30 seconds or I will play you off.

 

Winner: Most Satisfying Moment

Most Satisfying Moment: Rafael Nadal battles back from injury and his parents' divorce to reclaim the Roland Garros title – and the World No 1 ranking he had to watch slip away.  Added relish, exacting revenge on the only guy to ever beat him on the clay of Paris, and in merciless straight sets fashion. Vamos Rafa!

 

Biggest Shock:  "Francesca Schiavone, your 2010 French Open Champion." Say it with me again. "Francesca Schiavone, your 2010 French Open Champion." If someone told you a diminutive vet with a scorching one-handed backhand was going to hoist the trophy, this is not the one you'd think of.  But through epic fight, and epic fearlessness in the final, Franny proved Nothing Is Impossible.

 

Best Match (ATP): Monfils/Fognini may be the most memorable, Soderling/Federer the most dramatic, but shot for shot, Nadal/Almagro had the most wham and bam.  A few points either way in those first two tiebreaks and who knows what would've happened.

 

Best Match (WTA): Stosur/Serena was a slugfest and Stosur/Henin a jawdropper, but Sharapova set the table in her rollercoaster third round match v. the Belgian. Through sheer force of will, the Russian took the first set Justine lost at RG since 2005, and though Maria came up short in the end, watching two of the fiercest competitors go at it like pitbulls fighting over a steak, all over two days, was worth the price of two admissions.

 

Worst Match (WTA): Why choose one when you can squish two together into one giant three-set trainwreck?  Elena Dementieva was only able to play one set against Schiavone in their SF match before retiring with an injury, and even then she still managed to win twice as many games as a bafflingly wackadoo Jelena Jankovic was able to win against Sam Stosur.  Worth the price of no admissions. And a rebate.

 

Worst Match (ATP): Dare I say, the final? Having played a monster QF and a draining semi, Soderling could barely keep up when he started strong. By the end, on two rubber legs and gasping for air, Rafa's victory seemed more like a mercy killing. Disappointing given the hype.

 

Biggest Upset: HeninRoger Federer. It wasn't just that Robin Soderling snapped Fed's semi streak and prevented him from (for now anyway) breaking Sampras's all-time weeks at No 1 record, it's how he did it.  The brutality of the Swede's groundstrokes (and serve!) had the usually unshakable Roger throwing his hands up as if to say What can I do? In the end, nothing.

 

Breakthrough Performance (Female): Say it with me again. "Francesca Schiavone, your 2010 French Open Champion." But a near-photo finish with Stosur, who (ahem) flexed serious muscle and was the talk of the tournament up until the final point.

 

Breakthrough Performance (Male): Jurgen Melzer had never been past the third round of a major in his life.  Suddenly he was downing clay court stud David Ferrer and rolling Novak Djokovic in a fifth set to get to the semis.  Old people rule!

 

Best and Worst Dressed

Biggest Choke:  At least Tomas Berdych waited until the semis to cough up a win. '08 & '09 finalist Dinara Safina got hers out of the way in the first round, winning the first set and leading in the second and third before imploding against a hobbled Kimiko Date Krumm. Who, let the record show, is also ancient. Incidentally, what was in the water in Paris, alien cocoons?  But I digress.

 

Breakdown Performance (Female): Svetlana Kuznetsova. At least Safina can blame her inability to close on having not played for months due to injury and perhaps extraterrestrial intervention, what's the defending champ's excuse?  She only made it out of the second round thanks to the kindness of Andrea Petkovic. Maria Kirilenko wasn't feeling so gifty.

 

Breakdown Performance (Male): Sam Querrey, who saved us the work of having to figure out if he tanked his match by admitting it himself to the world press.

 

Serena Williams Cockroach Award:  Sam Stosur, who came back from a set down v. Henin and match point down v. the woman after whom this award is named (audacious!) to eventually make the final.

 

Most Ridiculous Stat: Serena and Venus end RG as the top two players in singles AND in doubles. Are you kidding me?

 

Biggest Game Changer:  Is it too late to buy stock in Babolat's fancy schmancy new black strings?  You know, the ones Rafa and Franny powered their way to glory with? It is?  Well you're a jerk.

 

Best Dressed: Venus Williams. Sorry, loved it. And even with an out of nowhere women's champion, the snapping of historic streaks and upsets left and right, a quick google search will show that her get-up was the story of the tournament.

 

Worst Dressed: Janko Tipsarevic. What did you do to yourself?

 

Best Use of a Microphone: The press room, home to an unusually high volume of catfights this year. Kitties got claws. Me likey. But me especially like…:

 

Most Memorable Quote: "Sport doesn't build character. It shows it." Ana Ivanovic on Jelena Jankovic.

 

And with the sound of that open stance backhand across the face, that's a wrap on the Dirty Slam.  Of course drop back Wed. (and every Wed.) for the Sweet Spot.  You can also follow me at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa. For now, on behalf of Dunlop and myself, thanks for reading. See you on the grass!

 

James

__________________________

Day 14 - 6/5/2010 - 12:36AM PT

Hello peoples, it is Dunlop! James sleeps off drinking game, so I am back to cover girly final. I am so tired as I am up all night trying to learn different ways to say "hot mess." French Open final for woman is always terrible terrible match and Dunlop hates to be caught, how you say, unprepared.

 

:00 – Little old Italian woman and Linda Hamilton wait to go on court. Little Italian is smiling (like old people do). You are nervous, you cannot fool Dunlop! Linda Hamilton gives nothing. She is all business. Little boys with flowers (can you imagine!) walk them onto the court. Hopefully someone walks them to military school!

 

:02 – Players warm up.  Little Italian is on Red Bull explosion. Is he watching her in fast forward?

 

:12 – Linda Hamilton serves big, holds at love. She does not even laugh in old lady's face! She is not Linda Hamilton, she is TERMINATOR. 

 

:15 – Little Italian begins by serving ace. Witchcraft!  She holds for 1-1 and Dunlop is already shocked.  Is most competitive girl final in decade!

 

:22 – Oh no, original model Terminator arrive to destroy the future!  Oh, is just Mary Pierce. Pretty dress Mary!

 

:26 – Fans of Little Italian wear t-shirts that say Nothing Is Impossible.  Oh yes? Try squeezing into size 2" dress. …Dunlop is told.

 

:30 – There is close up of Terminator's arms. Someone say she never do a bicep curl in her life. What does she do, hang from helicopter propeller? She fight back from 0-30 then spit chewing tobacco.

 

Nothing is Impossible!

:39 – Little old Italian serving more aces than Terminator. Somebody has been eating their Milk Duds!

 

:43 – Terminator serving at 0-15. Now 0-30. Now 0-40! Last time he sees little old Italian woman pump fist this hard she was telling Dunlop to get off her lawn.

 

:44 – Terminator short circuits, double faults to give break.  Alicia Molik jump out of seat in player's box and offer to serve for her. So helpful!

 

:53 – Little Italian takes first set! Dunlop take bathroom break right where he sits.

 

1:01 – Dunlop imagine what is going on in Terminator's mind. He thinks something like this. (http://www.audiomicro.com/vehicle-skids-tires-car-tire-skid-while-br-pe855524-sound-effects-147607)

 

1:16: Terminator get first break point on Little Italian's serve. She breaks and does Mashed Potato dance on baseline.

 

1:18 – Dunlop blinks and is 4-1! Little old Italian woman have heart attack, she will not win another game.

 

1:27 – Little Italian wins 3 games. 4-4! Dunlop sure Terminator now hears this. (http://www.omarshauntedtrail.com/MP3s/Sound%20Files%20collected/S/Scream4.wav)

 

1:35 – Little Italian attack Terminator like early bird special, serves ace after ace! 5-5.

 

1:37 – So stressful for Dunlop, but women keep holding at love!  Where is mental breakdown Dunlop was promised! All of his research last night for nothing.

 

1:41 – Tiebreak!  Somebody hold Dunlop!  Not you Alicia Molik. We are cool, but we are not that cool.

 

1:43 – Little Italian woman is fearless!  Dunlop wants to skin her and wear her like coat.

 

1:44 – The clay better get ready, it is about to get some of the good lovin'!

 

1:46 – Hasta La Vista baby, Giant Italian woman wins!  Oh how she rolls and rolls in dirt. Even Dunlop needs cigarette.  She hugs Terminator just to make sure she is dead and then runs into the stands to rub it in Terminator family's face.

 

1:47 – Ambulance workers shove spoons in mouths of Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic so they do not bite off own tongues. Though for one or two might be improvement. Dunlop does not mention names!

 

1:55 – Mary Pierce and Big Italian woman do each other's hair while Terminator tries not to crack their skulls with runner up plate.

 

For big loser final, Dunlop feels so good!  First Italian woman to win Grand Slam, second oldest woman to win Grand Slam. Nothing is Impossible!  Maybe not even squeezing into size 2" dress. Dunlop must go now, he is inspired!

 

Poljubac!

 

Dunlop

___________________

Day 13 - 6/4/2010 - 11:42AM PT

With the finals set, it's time to check in on my anti-drinking game.  You know, my foolproof plan to keep us all sober and alert this French Open? How did I do?  By the look of this empty box of wine, I have a few guesses. Let's have a looksie, shall we?

 

1. Anna Chakvetadze wins a match. 

 

Chaks lost to Angelique Kerber in the first round. NO SWIG.

 

2. Marcos Baghdatis makes it through a set without launching anything out of his nose.

 

The rockets were flying fast and furious. I counted 4 in his match against Andy Murray alone. NO SWIG.

 

3. Commentators don't make thinly-veiled fat jokes about Marion Bartoli, Alisa Kleybanova or any female player who has even the semblance of a muffin top. Take two swigs if Serena isn't commended for showing up "toned" or "in fighting shape."

 

Swig for the name on the shorts

Two words: Dinara Safina. Two more, used to describe Serena: "Looks fit!" My throat is bone dry.

 

4. Novak Djokovic wears something from Sergio Tacchini that doesn't look like Hugh Hefner's sexytime pajamas.

 

No silky daywear, but Nole did have his name slapped across his badunkadunk. Sadly I didn't say anything about dressing like one of Hef's Girls Next Door. SWIG.

 

5. Ernests Gulbis gives a boring post-match press conference.

 

Ernests wasn't firing off zingers, but his presser certainly wasn't boring, forced to retire in the first round with a hamstring injury. NO SWIG.

 

6. Roger Federer's semifinal streak at majors and his shot at breaking Sampras's all-time weeks at No 1 record isn't brought up breathlessly each and every time Rog takes the court. 

 

I really lucked out on the wording of this one as I never actually said I'd take a drink if he couldn't pull it off.  NO SWIG.

 

7. Gwen Stefani shows up and doesn't jinx Fed between now and then.

 

Sadly, she never even had a chance.  NO SWIG.

 

8. Justine Henin wears something without those little sleeve things on them.

 

Come on Justine, let those shoulders come out and play! NO SWIG.

 

9. Ana Ivanovic tosses a ball and no one gasps or otherwise clenches their nether regions.

 

As if. NO SWIG.

 

I'm feeling pretty damn good about myself and my anti-drinking game right now. So where did this buzz come from?

 

10. Jelena Jankovic completes a match without complaint, physical, emotional or metaspiritual.

 

NO SW--  Wait a minute. Where has all the grousing been?  The ongoing saga of whatever awfulness she's had to soldier through? I can't believe I'm saying this. Jelena, you really let me down. SWIG.

 

11. Svetlana Kuznetsova repeats as champion. Or even makes it to the second week.  Or even…

 

I'd need a lawyer for my crafty wording here, but clearly my intention was that she's bomb out in the first or second round. She went one better. SWIG.

 

12. Lucie Safarova doesn't have some kind of nightmarish thigh-strapping on.

 

NO SWIG.  Seriously, she'll wear that thing to her wedding. Which is in the cards as she's engaged to 2010 semifinalist Tomas Berdych. Nice consolation prize you've got there, Tommy. When she's unwrapped.

 

13. Andy Murray smiles.

 

Clearly Andy brought his own box of wine, cuz he was positively guffawing this entire French Open. Way to stick it to me, Muzz. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG. SWIG.

 

14. Rafael Nadal loses.

 

NO. SWIG. And thank God, my liver needs a break. BUT, with a dream rematch against Robin Soderling in the final, am I going to be hitting the box hard on Sunday? Duh duh duuuuuuh.

 

15. Melanie Oudin aces.

 

SWIG. What?? Yup, she served one ace in her first round loss to Anabel Medina Garrigues. My lips are now purple.

 

16. The Peacock Network (aka NBC) airs each and every one of their matches live, sans any kind of delay that makes you want to riot in the streets with pitchforks and torches.

 

SWIG on the east coast. NO SWIG on the west coast. Tricky little drinking game. 
 

17. Quisner doesn't shoulder the weight of a nation.

 

I'm gonna need a bigger box.

 

18. Aravane Rezai says something nice about a fellow player. Down the whole bottle if it's about either Jelena Jankovic or Marion Bartoli.

 

After roasting Bartoli over an open fire, Aravane did manage to say conqueror Nadia Petrova played extremely well. SWIG.

 

19. Serena Williams' time in Paris isn't marked by at least one occasion of having to rally from the brink of defeat. Take two swigs if it isn't against a three-named opponent ranked outside the top 150.

 

Curse my wording again! I never said she had to succeed in rallying, having tried and failed in the quarters. And unless 'antha' counts as Sam Stosur's middle name, SWIG SWIG SWIG.

 

20. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga doesn't make you want to pinch his cheeks.

 

NO SWIG. Sorry, impossible.

 

21. Ugliness won't spew from the stands whenever a player so much as lingers over a ball mark. Gotta love those Roland Garros crowds. Take two swigs if you in fact gotta love those Roland Garros crowds.

 

My box has a 3-inch layer of dust on it.

 

22. Victoria Azarenka doesn't implode.

 

Press conference? What press conference?  Hiccup.

 

23. Venus Williams plays a clay court point.

 

I counted three. When I could still count.  SWIG SWIG SWIG.

 

24. X-rays and/or MRI's aren't required of at least one player a day.

 

Gulbis, Dementieva, Date Krumm, Petrova was crawling at the end, Malisse retired, what day was that..? What day is this?  Why is the room spinning?

 

25. You don't hate me for this.

 

I hate me for this.

 

26. Zzz… And by that I mean getting any sleep.

 

Zzz…

 

Tomorrow: Dunlop live blogs the ladies final.  

________________

Day 12 - 6/3/2010 - 11:35AM PT

Women's semifinals today, and I'm expecting a piping hot plate of drama. Not only will all four women be first-time Slam winners, two of them have been dogged as the best players never to have ever won one. One's even a former No 1. So needless to say, a lot on the line.

 

Up first, Elena Dementieva takes on Francesca Schiavone.  I'm torn. Elena is, for me, the sentimental favorite. No one's worked so hard for so little.  Yeah yeah, she loves her gold medal, but this woman deserves a major title. More than one, especially after solving tennis's equivalent to the Riddle of the Sphinx: her serve.  But Franny's the paesan and we guineas stick together (yes Sam Querrey, I'm allowed to use that word. No one said life is fair.)

Finals Bound

 

Given the fact that Elena's going for something that's been painfully elusive for over a decade and Francesca hasn't even come close to the brass ring, they both start out  by going for their shots.  Not only that, Franny's more than keeping up.  When it goes to a tiebreak, Elena gets the early lead, but then it's all the Italian.

 

And then Elena retires.

 

Pandemonium. Schiavone's shocked, the media's shocked.  Elena heads into a courtside room and bawls.

 

Conjecture flies, and I start to get steamed.  Dementieva didn't call for a trainer, she clearly couldn't take the pressure so she just quit.  This is what's being repeated over and over.  The veteran hasn't retired in 43 majors and this is the respect she gets.  That she's never won a Grand Slam is exactly why she wouldn't just bail willy nilly, but people seem to be out for blood.  It continues into her press conference, and only when she says it's a tear and that she may miss Wimbledon do people cut her any slack. And even then, they say with a sneer, the WTA trainer will only call it a strain. I'm officially grossed out.

 

But I'm thrilled for Schiavone, and not because she's a paesan, but because she's shown unbelievable heart this tournament.  For all the crap women's tennis gets, this particular woman is putting on a ridiculous display of guts and glory.

 

That said, Jelena Jankovic v. Sam Stosur should be bloodsport, because whoever wins this one is the clear favorite to hoist the trophy. It'll all be about who deals with this fact better.  And after a shockingly lopsided first set, Sam Stosur turns out to be the one made of steel.  Jelena looks as shocked and awed as Justine Henin and Serena Williams did before her, and before you know it, Sam's throwing her considerable arms up in victory.

 

In Jelena's press conference, she claims she "wasn't nervous at all." With all due respect: whatever. She also echoed other players' sentiments that Sam has a man's game.  Some are riled by the comparison, rightfully sick (as am I) of the jocks on the WTA tour being derided for not being girly enough.  That said, let's be clear: Martina Hingis saying Amelie Mauresmo was "half a man" because she was at the '99 Aussie Open with her girlfriend? That's an insult. JJ saying Sam has a man's game? I'd take that as a serious compliment.  I wish I had a man's game.

 

The day is done, with a plate and a half of drama, and Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone are our 2010 French Open finalists. Thrilled for Sam. Thrilled for Francesca.  Still, there's an emotional component missing for me. That feeling that, ah, finally, they're getting what's eluded them for so long. Sure the finalists have paid their dues and worked just as hard off court, but in a grander storyline sense, this one feels more like a pleasant read than a brilliant epic. That said, all the best to both in the final. May the best woman win.

 

And may whoever bet on this insane outcome enjoy rolling around in the dumpload of cash they just won.

 

Tomorrow: The men's semifinals.  Are we going to get our Rafa/Robin rematch or is there one more twist to this story?

___________________

Day 11 - 6/2/2010 - 4:15PM PT


Hi. I'm James LaRosa. You may remember me from such things as professional journalism.  My K-Tel album from the '09 U.S. Open, featuring nearly award-winning original songs by nearly un-tone deaf tennis players (2009 US Open Blog) was such a near-smash hit that I'm nearly proud to present Rain Delay Music Volume 2: Roland Garros Boogaloo.  Take a listen!

 

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE

 

When the moonball hits your eye like a bigga pizza pie, that's Schiavone.

When you smash it sky high and make little blondes cry, that's Schiavone.

 

ROBIN SODERLING

 

I'm Mr. Lifestyles Of The Rich & Swedish
You want a piece of me?
I'm Mr. "Oh My God! That Robin's Shameless!"
You want a piece of me?
I'm Mr. "Extra! Extra! This Just In!"
You want a piece of me?
I'm Mr. "He beat Rafa, Now He beat Fed. "
You want a piece of me?

 

RAFAEL NADAL:

 

I'm gonna knock you out!

Uncle Toni say knock you out!

Robin, I'm gonna knock you out!

Mirka say knock you out!

Don't call it a comeback.

 

But wait, there's more!

 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

 

I am barely breathing

I can't find the air.

Don't know who I'm kidding

Imaging umpire is fair.

I save 20 break points, isn't that enough?

Please let me stay, I put on Shakira wig and shake my stuff!

No?  Hello? Is this thing on..?

 

Track #3, Brick House

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO

 

I know you miss me.

I know you miss me.

I know you miss me blind.

 

SAM STOSUR

 

Ow, I'm a brick house

I'm mighty mighty, a just lettin' these guns hang out.

Ow, I'm a brick house

I rocked the sunglasses

And knocked Serena and Justine on their—

 

And that's not all!  We also have DUETS.

 

JELENA JANKOVIC & ANA IVANOVIC

 

And for each ajde!, each fist pump in your face, ah, you forgave…
And soon both of us share lip gloss!
Not imitate, now we play pattycake,

We hug it out and hug it out and hug it out
And now we're solid!  Solid as a rock!

 

MARION BARTOLI & ARAVANE REZAI

 

My head is saying "fool, forget her."

My heart is saying "don't let her go."

Hold your head under water until the end, that's what I intend to do.

I'm hopelessly devoted to you…

 

JUSTINE HENIN & SERENA WILLIAMS

 

Mmmm whatcha say? (In Rome v. JJ?)

Mmmm that you're not a cheater like me?

Of course you did.

Mmmm what'd I say?

Mmmm that I wasn't Justine?

Of course I did.

 

LIEZEL HUBER & CARA BLACK

 

Tonight, I celebrate my love-- hey, that's my line. No, that was my line, you poached it and now worse singers are beating us, you had to go and get all nervous and now you can't hold a note, I'm out here too you know, this is my career too, it's not all about you you crazy—

 

And many more!  Two records or three cassettes, just $19.95.  Order at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa. Operators are standing by.

________________

Day 10 - 6/1/2010 - 12:15PM PT

Lots of history on the line on Day 10.  A win today ensures Roger Federer will tie Pete Sampras' record for all-time weeks at No 1, and continue his insane streak of major semi appearances. 

 

But first, a pair of women's quarterfinals to wet the appetite.  On Chatrier, Caroline Wozniacki takes on Francesca Schiavone, while Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova get Lenglen duty. The third opponent in both matches is Injury, and she is ruthless.  Particularly in the all-Russian battle, where their injury time-outs last so long the players have to have another warm up when they both finally hobble back to court. Or something, I glazed over.

 

Wozniacki/Schiavone is much more gripping, if only because I'm watching someone who's been toiling away (albeit respectably) on tour for 12 years taste some serious success.  It's like watching a panther fight a housecat, and with an overhead smash, Franny becomes the first Italian to reach a major semi in the Open Era. (History!) She also cracks the top 10 for the first time at the ripe old age of 29. She celebrates by making out with the court, and let me say, I don't blame her.

 

After losing the first set, Dementieva rallies against a woman who can barely walk to take it in three. That means either Francesca or Elena will be gunning for the French Open title on Saturday.  Jigga what? 

 

Streak Buster

Okay, time for the main course: Roger Federer v. Robin Soderling for a spot in the semis.  Sod is 0 for 12 against Federer, so despite how well the Swede is hitting the ball this tourney, I'm not expecting a whole lot.  And after Rog takes the first set, it looks like it's going to be unlucky 13.  Until Robin starts crushing the ball.  And when I say crushing, I mean, how can you use it again after he mauls it like that?  I'm scared and I'm not even on the court.  You know something's up when Mirka puts the phone down.  Soderling takes the second set and we've suddenly got ourselves a match. 

 

It's 5-all in the third when the unthinkable happens.  Rain.  Okay it's not unthinkable as rain has been screwing up a ton of great matches this RG (Henin/Sharapova? Come on.)  When they finally take the court again, it's Roger who comes out flat.  Robin takes the third set so quickly I get whiplash.

 

At 3-all in the fourth set, more rain. Mother Nature, I know you bring flowers to the world, snowflakes and rainbows, but right now I want to take you out back to the alley, break a bottle and go at you like the worst bar fight you've ever seen.

 

False alarm as the players are allowed to continue (but I've still got this bottle in my back pocket, chick).  Again, Roger is dealing worse with the interruption and Soderling hammers hammers hammers his way to 5-4 and the chance to serve it out.

 

This is where my state of being could best be described as out-of-body.  That 23-Slam semi streak is…something.  And for it to be broken by the guy infamous for handing Rafael Nadal his only loss at the French Open ever?  It's almost too much.  And then Sod does it.  SNAP goes the streak (swig), along with all the arteries leading to the heart of every Fed fan.  Shocking.  Sad. Thrilling. Adjective. Adjective. Adjective.

 

Rafael Nadal will return to No 1 if he wins the title. Lest Rafa fans get too excited, he may have a particularly nasty obstacle to overcome in the process, and that's the guy who beat him last year.  Because God bless Tomas Berdych, making his first major SF appearance by beating Mikhail Youzhny today, but my money is on the Swede. 

 

But before we go, I've got to give major props to Roger Federer.  This upset wouldn't be as huge if your record weren't so ridiculous. It may have been snapped, but it will never be broken. Not in our lifetime anyway.

 

Tomorrow: Serena v. Stosur.  Bombs away. 

_______________

Day 9 - 5/31/2010 - 3:45PM PT

The press room has been a veritable hotbed of entertainment, delivering catfights (Jankovic v. Ivanovic, Rezai v. Bartoli), hara-kiri (au revoir Sam Querrey) and a borderline-psychotic obsession with dirty laundry. Literally, one reporter has been asking every player how much soiled clothing they "generate" per match. But every now and then, real tennis insight sneaks in. Like when Maria Sharapova was asked about the fighter's mentality. 

She said "I've played some opponents where they've said 'Come on' after every single point they've won and pump their fist. Deep down inside I know they're not really great fighters, and I know that mentally I'm much stronger than them. That's just something you feel when you're out there.  The fight is not so much about, you know, just the winning a point and just the celebration. It's the whole process of working up to that match, working up to a tournament, of mentally being strong and having a really good attitude." 

The words resonate on Day 9, a day teeming with fighters, all scratching and clawing for a spot in the quarters.  Who's got the bigger roar?

 

Robby Ginepri has been the definition of tenacious, outlasting all other American men to land on Novak Djokovic's doorstep.  Djokovic meanwhile has been mostly fighting himself, as evidenced by the great big huge bucketfuls of breaths he's taking throughout their battle. At one point Robby makes like Jack Palance and does push-ups mid-match.  Sure it was after he faceplanted but the message is clear: In case the great big huge bucketfuls of chest hair don't give it away, I'm filled with testosterone and Ginepri smash! Sadly for Uncle Sam, Djokovic smash harder and the last of the Yanks is rolled on out of Paris.

 

A True Fighter

Next up, two of the best fighters on the women's tour, Serena Williams and Shahar Peer.  Their Aussie Open tussle in '07 was the stuff of lore, and it inspired the 8-6 in the third roar heard round the world that carried Serena to the title. Would we be served up some more of that hotness?  For about two games, absolutely.  But then Serena unpacks the one thing that fight can't fight. Her A game. Okay B+ game, but really it's a whole other sandbox for Shahar to play in and she's literally blown off the court, landing somewhere in the parking lot.

 

Next up, Thomaz Bellucci fights like hell, but he can't outfight Rafael Nadal, one of the most vicious junkyard dogs the sport's ever seen.  It's actually the most comprehensive performance Nadal's put on, but don't expect him to jump for joy over it. Says Rafa afterward: "I'll start jumping when I've won the tournament." That's called meaning business.

 

In the popcorn match of the day (yeah, I'm sick of that expression too, but I'm too weak to fight it), Sam Stosur takes on Justine Henin. They had a close match in Stuttgart, but the difference between these two is one's a fighter and one is not. Shockingly, today, the role of fighter will be played by Samantha Stosur.  Justine is allezing up a storm, but in the end, in the jawdropper of the tournament thus far, the Sunglassed One shows she's got more chest hair by K.O.-ing the woman many had written in in Sharpee to win the title.

 

Somehow even more of a jawdropper, when asked afterward if she came in thinking she could win the French, Henin's reply, "No."

 

So Maria was right. True fight isn't fist pumping and allez!-ing every point you win. It's making a point to feel like a winner before you walk on the court.

 

Allez Sam. Way to put up your dukes.

 

Tomorrow: Roger Federer puts up his dukes for history, a single win away from breaking Pistol Pete's all-time weeks at No 1 record. Can Soderling fight him off?

_______________

Day 8 - 5/30/2010 - 2:15PM PT

Is Dunlop here!  All this bad weather fill him with violent rage (like Gremlin or Roger Federer, he does not like to get hair wet). What better way to deal with rage than to take out on others?  Oh, and what does Dunlop have here?  His Shame Stick!  How did that get into suitcase?   

Batter up!

 

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Watching you try to defend title was like watching woman with seizure play Jenga.  You make Dunlop so nervous!  And all the time he knew everything would fall to poop.  Unlike you, I will not, how do you say, delay the inevitable. – 4 Whacks with Shame Stick.

 

SPAIN: You are awesome, what happens to you?? FELICIANO LOPEZ and TOMMY ROBREDO lose in first round, DAVID FERRER and JUAN CARLOS FERRERO lose to big no ones and MARIA JOSE MARTINEZ OH GOD HER NAME GO ON AND ON injure herself in warm-up. As little yellow Spanish boy say, Ay Caramba! – 5 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

DINARA SAFINA: Old lady on cane beats you! You had bad bad injury, Dunlop is not monster, he cries for you little bit.  But he cries for your brain even more. - 4 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

3 Whacks of the Shame Stick

GAEL MONFILS: The Showboat, soon will be making another run. The Showboat, promises something for everyone. Ha! Get it? Like Love Boat except with big gangly Frenchman with big eyes. He work so hard for two sets and then decide to go on three set victory lap! Dunlop hopes he is happy with prize. - 6 Whacks with Shame Stick, in flashy style.

 

TAYLOR DENT: You hit biggest serve in French Open history one day then only hold two times against skeleton from Nightmare Before Christmas the next?  Eight times he breaks you!  Did you forget arm at hotel? Afterward Yankee Doodle say "It would be tough for me to beat the 12-and-under French champion, playing that way."  Dunlop only agree if you mean 12 months-and-under. Ha! You lose to baby, get it! – 4 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

GOLD DRESS OF ARAVANE REZAI:  Dunlop likes the first 300 times he sees. Now like monster who broke his heart, he never wants to see again.  He would say burn but, like monster, he is afraid of toxic fumes that it would release into air. Plug into oil leak in ocean is best.  Or bury in back yard next to hated French rival. – 3 Whacks with Shame Stick and a poke to make sure it is dead.

 

THE IDIOT WHO SAY PLAYERS CAN HIT BALL IN THE DARK. - 12 Whacks with Shame Stick, then I poke you in both eyes, see how good you see.  Now swing! Swing!

 

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Dunlop does not even know where to begin. Big Belarussian is like luxury sports car with no computer.  She drive headfirst into wall after wall until she is out of gas. Actually, maybe she play better in dark. – 5 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

SAM QUERREY: Oh, boy millionaire has bad day, take all his toys and goes home.  Wah wah. Leave doubles partner high and dry. - 8 Whacks with Shame Stick.  1 whack, 2 whack…oh this is hard work…3 whack, Dunlop is not feeling it, he tank whacks 4 and 5…here, Dunlop is burned out beating you. He quits. Here is stick, do it yourself if not too much trouble.

 

Dunlop is burned out from blogging. He sees you next time he feels like it.

 

Poljubac!