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LaRosa's 2011 Roland Garros Blog

6/5/2011 2:00:00 PM

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Day 14 - 6/5

Before we wash the clay out of our unmentionables, let’stake a moment to celebrate the highs, the lows and the ohnoyoudi’ints of the Dirty Slam.Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 FRENCH OPEN DUNLOP AWARDS.

Best Match (ATP):

A Dunlop Award Winner 

Fedal lives! Or it’s just had one gorgeous spasm on life support. Either wayRAFAEL NADAL/ROGER FEDERER showed why they’re one of the best pair-ups tohappen to life since Ernie and Bert. Fed came at Rafa harder than ever on thered stuff, and in refusing to back down Rafa would be rewarded with his 6thFrench Open title (tying Borg!), his 10th major, and a longertimeshare on the No 1 ranking. Runner Up:with all due respect to ROGER FEDERER/NOVAK DJOKOVIC, the upset goes to GAELMONFILS/DAVID FERRER, who played five sets of go for broke tennis that thrilledstraight through to 8-6 in the decider.

BreakthroughPerformance: Does becoming the first player to win a Grand Slam from acountry of 1.3 billion people count? NA LI not only sawed through a draw thatincluded four of the top contenders for the title (Kvitova, Azarenka, Sharapova& Schiavone), she felled the biggest giant of all - the pressure of doingsomething that had never been done before in tennis history. She thoroughlydeserves to be the massive celebrity she’s about to become.

Best Match (WTA):Shockingly, for all the sensational storylines on the women’s side, it didn’tquite translate into epic clashes. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE/ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVAwas exciting, but it was more of an escape act, and NA LI/FRANCESCA SCHIAVONEfelt big but mostly one-sided. My vote goes to MARIA SHARAPOVA/CAROLINE GARCIA,which was dramatic, memorable and showcased two players playing brillianttennis, if not always at the same time.

Worst Match (WTA):KIM CLIJSTERS/ARANTXA RUS. God bless Rus, but if there was a more painful 15hours of tennis I’d like to see it. All thanks to…

Breakdown Performance(Female): KIM CLIJSTERS. She’d already used up her horror-match-good-willin her legendary implosion v. Nadia Petrova at the ‘10 Australian. So when shecoughed up a set and 5-2 lead in the 2r to a player ranked outside of the top100 – and at a major more ripe for the picking than any in recent memory - itwas enough to take a life.

Worst Match (ATP): FABIO FOGNINI/STEPHANE ROBERT. Credit toStephane, who came through qualifying to thrill the home crowd with a 1r 5-setupset of Tomas Berdych. But woof. Robert won 3 games in a match that was justover an hour. Fognini had to work harder in his semi v. Djokovic.

Serena WilliamsCockroach Award: ANDY MURRAY. Dude ripped a tendon in his ankle in his 3rmatch and played on it all the way to the semis. Are you kidding me? MichaelBerrer and Viktor Troicki couldn’t put Old Yeller down. It took the guy who’dwin it all.

Most Memorable Quote:“I have more pills inside me than Ozzy Osbourne.” – Andy Murray

Most Memorable Quote(Runner Up): “I can tell you who is my girlfriend, but I cannot tell youwhat I do with my girlfriend.” – Novak Djokovic, GOAT of Analogies, on why hecouldn’t divulge the secrets of his gluten-free diet.

Breakdown Performance(Male): NICOLAS ALMAGRO. Coming off a title in Nice, Nic coughed up a 2-setlead in his 1r match against a guy he’s owned in a quarter of the draw anchoredby a gimp. Mercy.

Biggest Upset:CAROLINE WOZNICKI. Kim was the more shocking loss, but Caroline’s the moreimpactful upset. Spanked publicly by Daniela Hantuchova, Caroline’s eithercoming to come back down to earth switch up her tactics and schedule to becomea true Grand Slam champ. She’s got the strokes, we might just start getting tosee them.

Most BreathtakingPerformance: She lost her fiancé and coach to a brain tumor eight daysearlier. But VIRGINIE RAZZANO played on.She laid her heart bare on court and to the press afterward. It was thefinest tribute she could have possibly paid to a man she deeply loved. It wasboth inspiring and heartbreaking.

Biggest Bummer:The retirement of PATTY SCHNYDER. On court and off, the woman delivered likeDomino’s. She and her third set hair will play on forever in my heart.

Biggest Tease: AMELIEMAURESMO, who was supposed to play mixed doubles until she was yanked from thedraw on account of no longer being registered with the anti-doping program. Whyya gotta toy with us like that Roland?

The Pam Shriver ‘BestUse of a Microphone’ Award: ROGER FEDERER, whose press conferences – theperfect cocktail of psychological warfare and smiles – showcased why the manhas 16 major titles to his name. Hannibal Lecter with a racquet, he’s simplythe most wonderfully diabolically brilliant player in tennis.

Most Missed:Press conference transcripts. Whatever the reasons for the blackout, not havingthose to surf after a match took away just a little of the magic from the tournamentand made it feel that much further away.

Biggest Game Changer:The wind. God I’m sick of writing about you. And yet here you are again,whipping up clay storms, blinding players and making the tail end of thetournament more about survival than actual tennis. I think I speak for everyonewhen I kindly say this: Die.

You either Love it or Hate it

Finally, the awards you voted on. Democracy in action!

Best Dressed (Male): ROGERFEDERER. And I’m with you. I saw him wear that shirt at an Indian Wells presserand asked myself how much of an international incident it would be if I lungedat him to take it. RUNNER UP: GAEL MONFILS.

Worst Dressed (Male):GAEL MONFILS, in what was clearly the Ke$ha of outfits – you either love itor you hate it. RUNNER UP: NOVAKDJOKOVIC.

Best Dressed (Female):MARIA SHARAPOVA, by a landslide.

The Stella McCartneyWorst Dressed Award: I won’t say who was your top pick. Though the newtitle of this award should offer a teensy clue. RUNNER UP: A photo finish between KIM CLIJSTERS (wearing what @Snoodtasticdubbed a Baskin-Robbins uniform) and FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE, who ruffled all yourfeathers. Cuz she was wearing ruffles. Get it? Oof.

Okay that’s my cue.Fare thee well, friends, and farewell to a French Open filled with morechokes, tears and cramping than Lindsay Lohan at an all-night-- OH MAN, wheredid this ballkid come from?! That wasgoing to be the easiest putaway punchline ever!! DAMMIT. Whatevs, don’t forgetto check back in for The Sweet Spot. On behalf of Dunlop and myself, thanks forreading - see you next time!

James

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Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.

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Day 13 - 6/4

Hello peoples! Is again Dunlop’s job to do the live blog of woman’s final! After yesterday’s semifinal with Roger Federer and my Nole James fill Dunlop’s Milk Dud box with Xanax, so he is feeling great! Let us get this party started!

:02 - China walks on court with tape on knee. And pet dragon on leash made of daffodils and Red Vines. Uh-oh, Dunlop thinks he takes too many of the happy pills.

:07 – Is warm up. In stands, Roger Federer waves finger at me! AHHHH! Oh, was just Evonne Goolagong waving at Dunlop. I was so sad when she left the View. Maybe she brings Koosh balls to shoot at camera!

:16 - Little old Italian lady holds serve. When did she get here?

:32 – China breaks serve! She has eye of tiger. And tramp stamp on chest. Dunlop is big fan of ladies with the tramp stamp.

:35 – Evonne Goolagong. What a funny name. Goolagong Goolagong Goolagong. Does Dunlop smell Bacon?

:51 – China wins first set! If she wins she will be first woman to win 1.3 billion Grand Slams!

Congratulations China!

:53 – In middle of point, Roger Federer runs on court waving finger. Ahhh!!! Oh, is just umpire, she comes to check mark in dirt. What a funny job. Dirt reader. Why go to college when you can read dirt for living! Where is that bacon smell coming from?

:54 - Dunlop smells like bacon.

:58 – MARAT SAFIN IN STANDS!!! He can grip and rip Dunlop any day! How do you say, professionally speaking.

1:01 – Little old Italian lady complains about wind. Then she does cartwheel with no underpants! Wait, that was Martina Hingis! Wait, that was Martina Navratilova! Wait, that was Dunlop.

1:21 – Dunlop wakes up from black out, is 4-2 China. Uh-oh, here comes black out again…

1:27 – Dunlop lies in bed feeding grapes to Roger Federer. He holds Dunlop so delicately. He whispers in Dunlop’s ear, “You don't give me such a lead, and then think you can crawl back…” What is Vogue lady doing here and why is she holding camcorder?!

1:28 – AHHH! Cold sweat cold sweat! Dunlop wakes from nightmare to see little old Italian lady is waking from hers. Is 4-all!

1:47 – Little old Italian lady is up 6-5! Dunlop read this script at Australian Open! Pet Dragon will eat China now.

1:53 – Old lady argues with umpire, who reads dirt again. Is like witchcraft, where is Hawk-Eye?! French Open pays nothing for lights at night, roof in bad weather or the Shot Spot. Dunlop could afford to hold this tournament in his basement.

2:00 – TIEBREAK! 1-0 China. 2-0. 3-0. Oh this does not look good for old lady. 4-0, 5-0, 6-0. Fire! Fire!

2:02 - 7-0!!! CHINA WINS! Tramp stamp will be on front page of every newspaper government lets them read!

2:10 – Evonne Goolagong slingshots trophies at China and little old Italian lady, says terrible things about Elisabeth Hasselbeck then rides Pet Dragon out of stadium.

2:12 – Dunlop’s Xanax has done the wearing off. What a crazy trip! Congratulations China and little old Italian lady. Wait, what is Vogue lady doing here with camcorder? That was nightmare! Grapes…crawling…NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Day 11 - 6/2

88 Lines About 44 Matches

--with apologies to 80’s New Wave band Nails, and Novak Djokovic.


Gilles Simon liked his chances,
he had no clue he’d be the first.

Gael Monfils fought for his country,
France would drive home in a hearse.

Marcel Granollers was next,
Melbourne would be one short stay.

Ivan Dodig took a set,
he’d tell his grandkids that someday.

(mmmmmm)

Viktor Troicki could be tricky,
but he bailed after a set.

Nic Almagro was a fighter,
seven games is all he’d get.

Tomas Berdych was a giant,
he’d be cut down like a tree.

mmmmmm

Roger Federer played smarter,
still he took him out in three.

(mmmmmm)

Andy Murray craved a major,
he’d be brutally denied.

Michael Llodra tried Amelie,
he still went down in Dubai.

Feli Lopez showed more nerve,
but he would too run out of luck.

Florian Mayer came and went,
and no one even gave a cluck.

(mmmmmm)

Tomas was fueled by revenge,
he’d bail out late in the third.

Roger wanted to cause pain,
his own screams was all he heard.

Andrey Golubev showed up,
his story ended then and there.

Ernests Gulbis won one game,
but did it with some epic hair.

(mmmmmm)

Viktor loved Indian Wells,
but it didn’t love him back.

Richard Gasquet puffed his chest,
all he got was a pimp slap.

Roger was a true glutton,
he kept coming back for more.

Rafael Nadal was a bro,
he too would be shown the door.

(mmmmmm)

Denis Istomin was next,
even he knew he was damned.

James Blake was on a comeback,
he got pantsed worse than by Pam.

Viktor couldn’t believe it,
again he had to play this guy?

Kevin Anderson was tough,
Miami almost made him cry.

(mmmmmm) 

Mardy Fish lost some weight,
I don’t know if you heard.

Rafa lost his second match,
he vowed there wouldn’t be a third.

Adrian Ungur was scared,
The Belgrade crowd would take its toll.

Blaz Kavcic was religious,
he prayed for mercy on his soul.

(mmmmmm)

Feliciano said, “Know what?
This time I think that I can win.”

Anderson, he thought the same,
he was never seen again.

Garcia-Lopez wasn’t sure,
Why did he get out of bed?

David Ferrer lived for battle,
three sets later he was dead.

(mmmmmm)

Thomaz Bellucci was on fire,
In Madrid he had a shot.

Rafa’s streak on clay was broken,
though he fought and fought and fought.

Lukasz Kubot was ecstatic,
in Rome he got a TV court.

Stan Wawrinka wasn’t sure,
he was playing the same sport.

(mmmmmm)

Robin Soderling crashed parties,
the party crashed that day was his.

Andy really learned his lesson,
his match was the living shiz.

Rafa hoped fourth time’s the charm,
one more time he’d shake his head.

De Bakker caught sight of his draw,
he wished he caught West Nile instead.

(mmmmmm)

Vic Hanescu liked to spit,
he’d get spit out in no time flat.

Del Potro was killing it,
for one set he was alla that.

Richard attacked in mighty form,
his tomb soon read ‘Here Lies Gasquet.’

Roger’s blocking No 1,
Squashing this would make his day.

(mmmmmm)

Will Djokovic win 44,
and get  to No 1 next week?

Who can say but I know this:
Good things come to those who streak.

_______________________________________

Day 10 - 6/1

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than a Mitch Albom novel. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Andy Murray. His Aussie Open spanking broke my heart, and clearly his too as it took him months to get over it. Lo and behond he came into this French Open playing the clay court tennis of his life, gifted a draw that screamed THIS COULD BE IT ANDY!  And then he goes over on his ankle, tearing a tendon. Somehow he soldiers through, not only gutting out that match but rallying from two sets down against Viktor Troicki (BTW, if anyone can explain to me how one can walk much slide for 5 sets on a torn tendon, I would be forever grateful). It’s truly amazing to see someone known more for his complaining show spectacular guts and bravado through injury. What a way that would be to - finally! - win your first major.

--

Anyone want to bid on Novak's glasses?

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than three seasons of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Rafael Nadal. All season long he’s seen Novak Djokovic creep up his rear view. Just as long, he’s had to answer questions about what he’s doing wrong. Because obviously meeting him in one final after the next signifies a massive slump. It followed him into Roland Garros, where the tennis establishment has given itself whiplash shaking their heads so violently over Rafa’s tarnished glow. Tying Bjorn Borg’s 6 RG titles would be a wonderful way to tell everyone to shut their stupid mouths and pay some respect. This is Rafa’s House, and don’t you forget it.

--

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than a Sandra Bullock movie. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Novak Djokovic.  It’s June 1 and THE MAN HASN’T LOST YET.  Here he has a chance to not only become No 1 and break streaking records, he could also hoist a trophy on clay, and if anyone deserves something big and shiny for a half year’s work, it’s Novak. Plus he gave me his electronic Technicolor sunglasses at the Indian Wells players party, and if he wins you know how much I can get for those on eBay?

--

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than an Amy Grant CD. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Roger Federer. Under the radar implies any kind of radar at all. It’s shocking when you’re talking about a guy with 16 majors. He kinda knows how to win one, but he’s either had to spend his entire press conferences of late answering questions about the Novak & Rafa Show or sitting in silence waiting for a single English question (one day, not a single one came). Roger winning would be a phenomenal lesson about not only dismissing a champion but dismissing anyone who thinks they know for sure how a Grand Slam is going to play out. Plus Roger is 1 week shy of Pete Sampras’s weeks at No 1 record, and a win would only get him that much closer to breaking it. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

--

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than a Family Circus desk calendar. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Marion Bartoli. If there was a bigger underdog in the draw (and I’m starting at 128), it’s Marion. And for a whole bunch of reasons: she came into the tournament with an injury she said she’d need a miracle to play through, her home country has had no idea what to do with her throughout her entire career, and she’s the butt more jokes than I have the strength to repeat, be it about weight, looks, her father, her training techniques, her 175 IQ… Now here she is, with a chance to win her first major on home soil, to be embraced by France as a hero, to maybe, finally, get that damn clothing sponsor. And if her runner-up speech at Indian Wells melted your heart, just imagine what she’ll do to us if she goes one step further here.

--

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than a Lifetime movie marathon (the ones with Patty Duke, not Meredith Baxter-Birney). But only one truly has my heart, and that’s Francesca Schiavone. There was no single performance more inspiring to me last year than Francesca’s run to the RG trophy. She was fearless, emotional, expressive, crafty and everything else you want an athlete to be. You saw her heart. You also saw her immediately branded a one Slam wonder. And to see her REPEAT! Who on earth would’ve called that last year, much less last week? The make-out session with that clay would be epic. To which I say bring it on.

--

The semis are set, and they’re loaded with more feel good stories than a Tyler Perry movie (minus the prostitution and beatings). But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Na Li. Like Murray, she soared so high at the Australian Open only to crash and burn for months after. The weight of 1.3 billion expectations – one of them being your own – was crushing. She spent more time denying her retirement than winning matches. But Na Li fought back, canned her hubby and is poised  - once again - to become the first Asian woman to win a Grand Slam.  She’s clearly the GOAT of press conferences. I’d love to see her get rewarded for what she’s truly best at, and that’s ripping the bejesus out of the ball.

--

The semis are set, and blah blah blah. But only one player truly has my heart, and that’s Maria Sharapova. She had the kind of injury that you don’t bounce back from. Jennifer Capriati didn’t. She also suffered one humiliation after the next, her lowest point being breaking the double fault record at the US Open v. Melanie Oudin. What a shame, tongues wagged. How the might have fallen. Maria could’ve exited stage right, become a Basketball Wife and be rolling around in her millions right now. But opted to stick it out, weather the storm and brawl in the dirt. For all the crap she gets about being nothing more than an overmarketed pretty girl with a one-note game, to me Maria is so much more. She’s the living breathing embodiment of the human will to fight. And now she stands on the brink of completing the Career Slam. After everything she’s been through, I can’t think of a more poetic reward.

In the end, one thing is clear. The semifinals  - and this tournament as a whole - will break my heart. And make it soar. Game set and match, Roland Garros.

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Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.

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Day 8 - 5/29

 

Hello peoples! It is Dunlop. I should be in good mood because MY NOLE IS KING OF THE WOOOOOOOOOORLD!!! He does not lose in over one half of a year!!! But I am one angry tennis ball because big celebration has put hot tub in danger by, how do you say, Environmental Protection Agency. They come in the Hazmat suits and put bright yellow tape all over!  Now I have to clean hot tub or load onto rocket and shoot into sun.  Dunlop hates to clean!!! So excuse me as I take anger out on others with Shame Stick!  Do not worry, this will only hurt forever.

 

FABIO FOGNINI: You are worse actor than Arnold Schwarzenegger. - 6 Whacks with Shame Stick. Oh no, Dunlop has cram…er…muscle pull! Let him get treatment. Ah, massage helps so much!  8 more whacks. Here are some for you, officials. Dunlop knows he can whack your head and not hit brain.

 

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Dunlop whacks you until you learn you cannot win Grand Slam with moonball. He can wait.  Whack whack whack whack…

 

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh NOW you do not want to come back from 1-5, 0-40 in third set like you did against my Ana in Miami. NOW is okay to just give match to stick figure child ranked outside top 100. – 6 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

TOMAS BERDYCH:  You lose to man with first name as last name and last name as first name. That is just stupid. He wins 3 games in next round. Oh Tomas, it is some time since Dunlop whacks you with stick. He missed how this feels. – 4 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

MARIN CILIC: GET IT TOGETHER MAN!!! Remember when you used to play tennis?  Dunlop doesn’t. – 5 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: …whack whack whack…

 

SAM STOSUR: Dunlop has no words. Actually, he has five.  And he lets Shame Stick do talking. – WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK

 

FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULERS: Making my Novak play big Delpo at night?! He works so hard for win streak and now you make even harder for him to defend? ANIMALS!!!  231 Whacks with Shame Stick until sun sets, then I continue the next day until only thing you can schedule is priest for Last Rites.

 

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: …whack…whack whack……

 

ANDY MURRAY: Jinx! You say Caroline Garcia is future No 1 and she never wins another game! Why do you not just go out and club her knees during changeover? – 3 Whacks with Shame Stick

 

BABOLAT BALLS: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! You replace Dunlop balls, and everybody knows we have better touch and feel and backsides to brush up against! I give Shame Stick to players, let them whack you until they get feel for you – which is never!

 

Nobody likes the shame stick.

FRENCH OPEN CROWD: Who boos Rafael Nadal? Dunlop will not whack you because he does not want your cooties on his Shame Stick.

 

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: …whack………whack… Oh God Dunlop gives up. You tired him out with consistency. Congratulations and good luck on grass.

 

---

 

This hot tub is still so dirty! Time for sexy questions from Dunlop’s millions of followers on the Twitter.

 

@Curtos07 ask: What’s wrong with my girl Ana? Help her!

 

Time for truth.  She and Dunlop were at club all night, how do you say, dropping like is hot. And she get popping injury! (She cannot work apple bottom like Dunlop.) But she is fighter, she plays through match. Do not worry, she will heal and win Wimbledon. And then we will ride mechanical bull for 1 minute 39 seconds, new club record!

 

@GVTennisNews ask: Why are players hatin’ on your Babolat brethren balls? Also @Ataraxis00 (Do not forget the 00 or she will cut you!) ask: How do you feel about your people being replaced by Babolat? Give us a relevant quote.

 

See confusion?! Dunlop’s whole family is out of work, is tragedy. There is much crime in courts of Paris because of dirty filthy Babolat balls. What? Dunlop is not racist! Many of Dunlops best friends are Babolat!

 

@wh_interests ask: What the hell is Stella McCartney thinking?? Wozniacki’s ruffles looked like a bad feather boa.

 

Thinking? HAHAHAHAHA. No, is not all the fault of Stella. Caroline tells her tour is a circus, Stella gets confused. At least Caroline takes off floppy shoes and clown nose before walking on court.

 

@mikomonstr ask: Why is Nadia Petrova now dressing JJ?

 

JJ looks amazing! And is more than just a dress. When you lick it, the snozberries taste like snozberries!

 

@nadalnews ask: Andujar copped a feel of Rafa’s ass when they shook hands at the net. Do you think this should be a new tennis tradition?

 

YES!!! Is nice manly way to say, hello, we just played tennis, thank you! Except not for Nole. Only Dunlop thanks Nole.

 

@RacquetRequired ask: What have the players said in the press conferences that the mainstream media doesn’t want us to know?

 

You have 15 second videos to watch on RG website! You should be writing thank you notes and buying the fruit baskets! Peasant.

 

@rishegee As a professional streaker, what colour raincoat would most suit your Nole?

 

If it is a coat for rain, it should be whatever they make shower curtains out of to keep Nole dry.  If that is see through that is only coincidence.

 

So many questions about gluten!!!

 

@RacquetRequired also ask: Which is gluten free: glitter or jello shots? @MariyaKTennis ask: Are the magic wands “Dr” Igor uses to suck out energy for Novak from all your other fellow Serbtennis players gluten-free? @DiscoDebMKE ask: Zima and Milk Duds – are they gluten-free?

 

Dunlop can tell you all of these things are gluten free because Dunlop is gluten free! Sometimes players bite balls and Dunlop wants Nole to be able to bite him whenever he wants.

 

@FortyDeuceTwits ask: Here’s my question: can you pass me a Zima? Sam’s getting handsy and I need her to pass out and leave me alone. She needy.

 

Dunlop remembers you from hot tub party! You get over here right now and help clean! Oh it is disgusting. It has smell of burnt rubber, cocoa butter and nursing home. Okay peoples, Dunlop must finish job before he loses the consciousness. Uh-oh, that better be Milk Duds caught in jets.

 

Poljubac!

 

@TheRealDunlop

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Day 7 - 5/28

As we American slide (it’s a thing!) into Week 2 of the Dirty Slam, let’s take some time to slap gold stars to the foreheads of the peeps that made us want to French kiss Week 1. Pucker up buttercups.

ARANTXA RUS: Kim Clijsters goes on more walks than my grandma. But it was the 114th ranked Rus who locked her out of the house and caused the biggest upset of the tournament. Until…

DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Daniela had never beaten a reigning No 1 player before. She’d also never beaten Caroline Wozniacki. Check and check. It was great seeing someone who’s spent more than her fair share of Grand Slam time getting whacked by Dunlop not only come good, but do it in such scorching fashion.

FRENCHIES! RICHARD GASQUET, GAEL MONFILS, GILLES SIMON and MARION BARTOLI have all made it to the second week with blistering shows, and was there any player who made a bigger splash when they cannonballed into RG than 17-year-old CAROLINE GARCIA? For aaaaalmost two sets, she pounded Maria Sharapova like she laid a finger on her Butterfinger. Andy Murray crowned her a future No 1, and I’ll tell ya, if that’s the future, sign my postérieur up.

John almost pulled off the upset.

JOHN ISNER: John was supposed to lose to Rafael Nadal on clay with a respectable 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. He wasn’t supposed to take Rafa to his first ever fifth set at Roland Garros. The most impressive thing to me wasn’t even on court, it was in his press conference afterward where he looked royally pissed that he lost. John really thought he could pull this off. That’s gangsta.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Sure, the medical woes of the Williams sisters contributed greatly to Bethanie’s becoming the American No 2 post-French Open, but it was her efforts on the clay (particularly her comeback in r1 when she was so far down in the dirt there were flowers growing over her head) that sealed the deal.

GISELA DULKO: Is there ANYONE a big gun wants to face less in r1 of a major than Gisela? She’s like a witch, she can sense when someone with a huge weapon lost the detonator. Then she swoops in and rips their heart out with her teeth. Sam Stosur said she feared no one coming into this major. Gisela’s the scariest no one in women’s tennis.

SABINE LISICKI: So close to taking out Vera Zvonareva, Sabine physically fell apart. But she fought until the end, which in her case necessitated a stretcher. Bad-ass.

Last but by no means least, the lady, the myth the legend PATTY SCHNYDER: So much has been written about the second most famous female Swiss in tennis history. Most of it has been about all the quirks she brings to the game, from her infamous handshakes at the net to her Third Set Hair, from The White Mile (her forthcoming autobiography which promises to be an absolute 3D funhouse on crack) to her orange juice-pushing former coach her parents (who Patty fumed were “like the Taliban”) hired a private investigator to separate her from, a P.I. she’d eventually marry and make her coach and now he’s in trouble with the law and … sorry, I think I passed out, where was I? Oh right. Beyond the quirks, I’d like to instead celebrate Patty for what she’s done on the court - with a game as Wacky as the lady herself - and that’s take down the following No 1 players: Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Amelie Mauresmo, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki. She’s also won 11 Tour titles and cracked the 500 match wins club. So remember Patty Schnyder for all that other stuff (because It. Was. Awesome. and deserves its own museum and theme park ride), but don’t kid yourself about the rest – the woman could play.

What comes up must come down. Tomorrow: Dunlop, and the Shame Stick.

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The Sweet Spot has a Facebook page which I seem hellbent on keeping a secret from the world. Marketing was never my thing. Check it out at here.

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Day 5 - 5/26

May 26, 2011Freddy Krueger

PARIS, FRANCE

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Busy day.

FREDDY KRUEGER: (laughs) I know, right? Today was supposed to be my day off. Kim, Rafa, Maria. I never even bother taking the court when they’re on.

Q. Take us through the Kim Clijsters match. She started out strong, but…

FREDDY KRUEGER: I’m not really a morning person. But Kim just set me up too good! She’s been away, she’s rusty, Jada was up all night trying to light that tennis outfit on fire. So when Kim nodded off up a set and 5-2, I made my move. I stayed aggressive, consistent. 65 unforced errors later and it was over.

Q. Andy Murray wasn’t so easy.

FREDDY KRUEGER: I’ve had so much fun with Andy this year. And I’m just talking about that hair! (the room applauds.) I know, I know. Andy’s great, the minute he starts mouthing off I know I’ve got my opening. That usually happens around the third or fourth point of the match. Before even I know it I’ve got Simone Bolelli serving for the first set, and I’m all jigga what? Andy wriggles out of that one, but I’m fighting, I’m fighting. I’ve got Bolelli serving for the third set. But credit to Andy, he was just too good today. It’s cool, I got him back later with a sweet foot-in-mouth tweet that doomed sweet little Caroline Garcia.

Freddy couldn't shake Maria.

Q. Let’s talk about that Sharapova match.

FREDDY KRUEGER: Can we?? That was like a bubble bath, I could’ve soaked in that one for days.

Q. Who did you actually want to lose? It was hard to tell for awhile.

FREDDY KRUEGER: Okay look. My coach and I sat down and we were like, what’s Maria Sharapova’s biggest nightmare? Serving yips, losing to the Woz again? And then I was all, NO, getting spanked by some fresh-faced no-name 17-year-old girl! A set and 4-1 later and I could almost lick the tears off Maria’s face. Unfortunately I lost focus. It happens. I tried to get back into the match but Maria wouldn’t let me. She’s brutal that one, mind like steel. Finally I said to myself, Fred, you’ve got a perfectly lovely 17-year-old on the other side of the net about to watch a set and 4-1 lead over Maria Sharapova disappear faster than last night’s American Idol winner. So I just went for it, got all up in her head and, well…I don’t have to tell you what happened after that.

Q. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is down 1-5 in the third in his match against Pablo Andujar.

FREDDY KRUEGER: You know, I really thought I did well enough just giving these guys Nadal in the draw, but Rafa…he’s wound up tighter than Meg Ryan’s face 6 plastic surgeries ago. He’s doubting himself. Which is just blowing my mind dude. So I went for it. With 8 set points I had my opportunities, I just couldn’t convert. I’ll have to learn from that and come back stronger next time.

Q. With Stosur, Gasquet and Kuznetsova up tomorrow you’ve got a pretty good draw.

FREDDY KRUEGER: Don’t tell me the draw! I hate to look ahead.

Q. Can you win this tournament?

FREDDY KRUEGER: The French is a tough one. It always seems like it’s going to be a nightmare and then it winds up a dream come true. So I’ve really just got to play my game and not worry about what’s really a foregone conclusion: Fabio Fognini and Anastasia Rodionova winning it all. (dead silence) Ahh!!! Got you.

Q. You’re the worst.

FREDDY KRUEGER: Will I ever get my act together? Yeah yeah, look, I try not to think about semis or finals. Right now I'm playing really well, I’m scaring the hell out of everyone, working with conditions and balls to make this tournament just a total nightmare. One match at a time baby, one match at a time.

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Day 3 - 5/24

As you may have noticed, this Roland Garros blog is a little less daily than usual. Yesterday was in fact the first day at a major I’ve missed writing about since the French Open 3 years ago (I’m the Ai Sugiyama of tennis blogging). I’ve taken on an additional tennis gig that’s forced me to cut wildly back – which in my case means roughly every other day. That’s not just a programming note, it’s also the motivation behind behind today’s entry.

For awhile now, something has been really bothering me. I don’t know if I’m changing and becoming more sensitive to it or it’s just gotten worse and worse, but the base negativity in tennis is absolutely stifling. It’s been hitting me from all directions, from journalists who should know better to my Twitter feed where ripping players is a sport unto itself.

I’ve avoided writing about it because, frankly, who wants to hear someone complain about people being mean? IT’S FUN. But after yesterday I can’t help myself.

And all thanks to Melanie Oudin.

Oudin was beaten by defending champ Francesca Schiavone. Instead of saying, wow, tough draw, it became a feeding frenzy and Melanie was the bloody blonde bloated carcass floating in the water. There is in fact no bigger punching bag than Melanie Oudin in professional tennis, men’s or women’s. She’s never done anything to anyone besides make a spectacular run at a Grand Slam. BUT SHE IS A PATHETIC LOSER WHO NEEDS TO GO AWAY. She’s a fluke and an embarrassment and a one-hit wonder. Now, Melanie actually shined at 2 slams (Wimbledon being conveniently ignored to bolster arguments). She also never strutted around saying she was all that and a bag of Quely’s. In my interactions with Melanie, she’s never been anything but 100% nice. Scratch that, the last time I saw her she seemed just a little bit more guarded, like someone who’s been hunted like a dog mercilessly for, oh, say about a year and a half or so. But whatever, she failed to deliver on a promise she never made so she must be destroyed.

I’m sick of it.

Tennis is sometimes more than a game.

I’m not a Pollyanna. I know how the world (and the internet) works. I can also be the most evil person you’ve ever met (just ask my friends). But by reveling in negativity we’re not only sucking any true emotion from tennis, we’re also denying ourselves the true inspiration of the game.

Virginie Razzano played today, days after losing her coach and fiancé to a brain tumor. He asked her to play. She soldiered through it, and after the loss said “It was really hard to come on the court, there was a lot of emotion and a lot of pain. That pain will always be there. I tried to make a tribute to Stephane. It was mission impossible but I gave my all.” Ask me for something more inspirational than that this French Open, or any recent major, and I’ll tell you nothing. It lands a much bigger punch to the gut than a thousand mean-spirited snipes. The fact that Razzano AND her compatriots wore black ribbons? No words.

But hey, Ana Ivanovic lost again and was in TEARS. Let’s peel some onions under her eyes, toss them in a pillowcase and then beat her with it.

How about John Isner, who confounded all by taking Rafael Nadal to his first 5-setter at Roland Garros? The American was supposed to lose in three, certainly four. But he laid his heart out there. That’s inspiring. That’s the story.

I’m not judging anyone. Nor am I promising to be snark free, because we’re all human (and I’d be out of a job). But next time we’re tempted to take it to the extreme and beat someone when they’re down, at some point we have to ask what purpose it serves besides just being a ****. A little kindness goes a long way.

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Speaking of kindness, this is the perfect time to give a huge Welcome to Tennis Channel to Mary Carillo. I met Mary back at that ’07 French Open. It was my grand slam debut, and my sole focus was staying out of everyone’s way. Which is where Mary found me during Venus Williams’ marquee 3r match against Jelena Jankovic: hiding out in the production office. More like trapped. I’ll let wide-eyed James from 2007 tell it:

My backstage pass gets me almost everywhere. Except into one of the main stadiums. And Venus and Jelena are taking the court. I'm on the prowl for tickets when I bump into French Open mixed doubles champion-turned commentator Mary Carillo. A little backstory - we're best friends. At least starting a week ago. I met her the day I arrived and she's been nothing but smiles ever since. So Mary is aghast that I'm not at the match. Even though it's her day off from commentating, she makes me her pet project.

She takes me on a hunt for a way in. Along the way, I meet fellow commentator John McEnroe (who she shares her French trophy with). He suggests I just barrel in acting pissed. Awesome. That'll be plan B, John. We figure out that since I could get to the commentator booths before, we could try it again. She takes me over, where Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova are calling the match.

After catching some of the match together (if you want to hear true commentary, hang out during the commercial breaks), Mary and I head off, catching up with French Open doubles champ (and Chrissie's ex) John Lloyd on the way out. As the current captain of Great Britain's Davis Cup team, I get some skinny on the state of Brit tennis (damn this confidentiality agreement I signed!).

I continued to drone on (some things never change), but the point is, Mary was this big famous broadcaster and I was an idiot contest winner. And yet she treated me, a total stranger, like a friend. I don’t know if she even remembers this day, but I do. She showed me kindness, and it went a very very long way.

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Day 1 - 5/22

Welcome friends! I’m kicking off this year’s Roland Garros blog a little differently. Linear is so 2010. So is letting a tournament play out when experts are so sure they know who’s going to beat who and who’s going to win it all. So I’m fast forwarding to the end. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2011 FRENCH OPEN DUNLOP AWARDS. Let’s slide right in, shall we?

Best Match (ATP): Santiago Giraldo/Pablo Andujar had everything! Blistering forehands, impossible angles, brilliant point construction. It’s a shame one of them had to die.

Worst Match (ATP): Novak Djokovic/Thiemo De Bakker. Showing up drunk Thiemo? Not cool.

Worst Match (WTA): Francesca Schiavone/Melanie Oudin. Showing up drunk Melanie? Okay kinda cool. But it really screwed with your drop shots.

The 2011 French Open is anyone's game!

Best Match (WTA): Sloane Stephens/Kimiko Date-Krumm. The vet exploded from the gates with a fury only an Eastern forehand grip can unleash, but Stephens missed her prom for this. She was taking grandma down. Truly a spectacular final.

Biggest Upset: Anna Wintour, who finally managed to elbow Mirka out of the picture. Until she realized she was holding hands with that creepy lookalike dude. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFQHQCgRBuA)

Breakthrough Performance (Female): Jill Craybas, who plowed through Sharapova and Clijsters to make the semis. The fact that she did it with her car made it that much sweeter.

Serena Williams Cockroach Award: Maria Sharapova, who peeled herself from the grill of Craybas’s Mazda Protégé to take the American to 31-33 in the third.

Breakdown Performance: John Isner, who evaporated into a puddle of tears when he saw the draw. He’d lose in straight sets but take pride in being the last remaining American man in the draw.

Most Historic Moment: Dinara Safina, who unlocked the Crunked badge on @foursquare.

Biggest Bully: Victoria Azarenka, who had to file a restraining order against herself after relentless self-bludgeoning with the Effing B bomb. She’s just super passionate.

Scariest Moment: Ana Ivanovic being airlifted by helicopter from Court Suzanne Lenglen after yet another failed tweener attempt.

Best Dressed: Nicolas Mahut, who rocked it in blue satin ruffles, scoop neck and matching pleated skirt. Stella McCartney has finally found her muse!

Worst Dressed: Caroline Wozniacki. Blue satin ruffles, scoop neck and matching pleated skirt? What was she thinking?

Biggest Game Changer: Wigs.

Most Heartwarming Moment: The tennis community showed its heart once again in times of crisis with the Rally for the Rapture, a charity event to support those affected by the End of Days. With highlights including Nadal and del Potro battle rapping, Stosur faking her own death and Soderling busting “the robot”, it raised over $850,000 and brought smiles to many a Damned face.

The Pam Shriver ‘Best Use of a Microphone’ Award: Caroline Wozniacki, who made yet another delightful departure from the boring old press conference by performing a dramatic monologue as Miss Sofia from “The Color Purple,” played now less famously by Oprah Winfrey.

Most Memorable Quote: “If she didn’t get all up in my face I wouldn’ta had to pop her. Betta recognize.” Patty Schnyder, on her brawl with Zheng Jie.

Most Pointless Endeavor: Predictions. More than any other slam, the French Open thrills in confounding. The men’s side has two frontrunners aiming for ridiculous records (Rafa, trying to tie Bjorn Borg’s 6 RG trophies; Novak, trying to remain unbeaten until the end of time), but hearts and streaks are made to be broken (hi Robin Soderling). And as Julia Goerges so eloquently summed up the women’s draw, “there are 128 girls playing unbelievable tennis and hungry as hell.” (air high five, Julia, I like your style). So let’s all stop thinking we know anything about anything and enjoy what’s sure to be the dirtiest rollercoaster ride of the year. Shall we?

Let the games begin…


Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.