Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It’s May and that can only mean one thing: it is time for the French open and a chance to celebrate all things French.
Which means the time has come to indulge in a veritable feast of French wines, bread and cheese, all the while taking in the breathtaking magnificence that is a stunning array of shot making on the part of the world’s best tennis players, wee-wee.
Not just that, but there are sights to be seen in Paris that defy normality; the Eiffel tower for one, Venus William’s unique knickers (no, you had not had one French wine to many, you really did see what you thought you saw) for another. Great attractions, both of them, one would have to say, wee-wee.
And then there’s the tennis. Rodger Federer is through to the second round with a comfortable victory over his Australian opponent. The ease of which he acquired his first round win suggests that the fed express looks like he could be building up a full head of steam on his charge for another grand slam victory.
And with Rafael Nadal heading north on the form guide of late, it looks like we could be in for another classic at the serious end of the tournament. Certainly one of the main contenders, Scotsman Andy Murray looks to be struggling to find a rich vein of form after scraping through the first round with a five set victory. Sure, the idea is to peak at the end of week two, but he looked far from convincing.
If there is a silver lining in the draw for Murray, it may be that being due to meet Federer in the semis may help his cause. Even though Federer is undoubtedly the favourite at this stage, if Nadal rediscovers his clay court form of two years ago, Murray may be better off facing Federer instead of Nadal.
On the women’s side of the equation it is hard to see anyone seriously challenging Serena William’s and Belgium’s Justine Henin. That they are both in the top half of the draw means that they will more than likely meet in the semi-final. On the other side of the draw are the likes of serial choker Danara Safin, Elena Dementieva and Venus William’s. None of these players are likely to seriously challenge either Serena William’s or Henin. Safin tends to crack under the pressure of finals tennis. Until she truly believes in herself and has the confidence in her own ability this is likely to continue. And while Venus Williams is the number two player in the world, she has always struggled on the clay of Roland Garros. So, she will be pining for the grassy expanses of Wimbledon that she is much better suited too.
As the bottom half of the draw looks by far the weaker, this brings us back to Serena and Henin. At the Australian Open they battled each other over three sets in the final with William’s prevailing. It was a mighty effort on Henin’s part as she was just out of retirement and on the comeback trail. In the end William’s match fitness and power came to the fore.
So can the little Belgium dynamo with the backhand that is every tennis player’s wet dream go one better in Paris? She must stand a good chance as clay should suit her game. With a solid forehand and the aforementioned backhand which both leak only limited errors, she should have too much for most opposition. And while she doesn’t possess the game’s biggest serve by any stretch of the imagination, at the same time her opponents that do have big serves will have the impact of their biggest weapon against her stunted with the slower pace of the courts.
In Melbourne the fully loaded enemy destroyer eventually overcame the pocket battleship.
With the addition of a composite number of months (four) extra to prepare, will she have upgraded her armoury? Certainly her fitness will have improved and the consistency that comes with hitting more balls should start to show through.
Not to mention the fact that as a four time winner in Paris she will have the knowledge and know how to take down the battleship this time, wee-wee.

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