Friday, 3 June 2016

Top Seeds into semis

We nearly saw the exit of the top seeds in both the women's and men's draws on Day 12 at Roland Garros,  one for less than normal quality tennis, the other for loss of temper.

Serena Williams, in her quarter final, had the basic task of eliminating Kazakhstan's favourite adopted Russian Yulia Putintseva, ranked outside the world's top 50.  However, Yulia wasn't playing Serena's victim in the first set.  She broke the defending champion's serve in the third game to lead 2-1 and although Williams levelled at 3-3, the eleventh game sent shockwaves through the stadium.  From 40-0, Serena's backhand fell apart, while Yulia's was set alight.  The break came and was consolidated with a service hold and the set 7-5.

If Williams didn't feel pressure at that moment, she must have after the next game when she dropped serve yet again.
The tables were turned as they usually are when Serena is in trouble, and she broke back immediately, proceeding to take the match 5-7 6-4 6-1, and book a semi final place against Kiki Bertens.

Yes it's true - for the first time in forty five years, a Dutch woman has made the RG semi finals.  Kiki destroyed the hopes of yet another seed, this one number eight Timea Bacsinszky from Switzerland.  It was quick and painless - well Kiki didn't feel Timea's pain anyway.  7-5 6-2 was enough to guarantee a match against the world number one.

Before Serena and Yulia crossed swords, Novak Djokovic had beaten Tomas Berdych for the 24th time from 26 attempts, the last eleven in succession.  Tomas began fairly well, but was caught inevitably in the trap which Novak weaves so well.  Leading 6-3 7-5 and in no trouble in Set 3, Novak lost a break point chance, but instead of taking it in his stride as is his norm, he lost his cool and threw his racquet down, whereupon it bounced backwards, barely missing a line judge. 
The risk of disqualification was avoided by a matter of millimetres. Lucky boy !

The win was comprehensive, 6-3 7-5 6-3, and Novak will play in his umpteenth semi final at Grand Slam level against GS semi final debutant from Austria, Dominic Thiem, who thumped David Goffin after giving the Belgian a one set start.

Day 13 will be lucky for some as the four singles semis are played - Muguruza should beat Stosur, S Williams will finish the fantastic Bertens run, and I predict a men's final featuring the same combatants as last year, after Wawrinka rids Paris of Murray and Djokovic bids farewell to Thiem.

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