With this year’s (thankfully longer) grass season now in full swing, lets briefly look back at the culmination of the clay in Paris a week ago.
|Sublime success for Serena and Stan|
Serena still on for calendar slam, even when sidelined and sick!
As truly brilliantly as Lucie Safarova played all fortnight – and again in the final stage – it always looked a bridge too far to defeat the now 20-time major champion Serena Williams.
Quite a statement when one looks at Serena’s far from comfortable path to the same stage, with more than a few uncomfortable moments, dropped sets and lacklustre periods of indifference, incompetence and incapacitation. The American’s still rocky relationship with the Parisian crowd no doubt contributed to such struggles occasionally, but we saw Serena the fighter in Roland Garros, the first time in quite a few years.
Is it a question of gamesmanship? We saw in Australia how Williams’ very deliberate, choreographed even health struggles on court more than distracted Sharapova. Again here, against poor Timea Bacsinszky, we saw the same act played out.
Unlike the delicate Swiss, Safarova seemed unfazed for the most of the final – if anything the occasion itself must’ve unsettled the Czech somewhat. Ultimately, we were treated to another dramatic, high quality women’s final here – with Serena’s quality at last diminishing the impact of the theatrics.
Wimbledon remains impossible to predict – but you wouldn’t bet against Serena heading towards a calendar slam in this form.
Stanimal’s shot-making blows away a depleted Djokovic
During Sunday’s showpiece final, I tweeted about how the Djokovic’s and Murray’s of the game simply cannot produce the raw shot-making that Wawrinka was displaying in the heart of this four-set encounter.
He possesses neither the elasticity, stamina or defensive prowess of the two aforementioned athletes, but instead relies solely on his absolutely textbook technique and sheer power. It is tennis in a purer form – power and technology, as well as modern sporting fitness levels of course contribute to such a performance, but the refreshing here is that this victory was earned by winners and not from avoiding errors.
The sport will sorely miss such sights as this – and it remains unclear if we are destined for this new breed of super-athletic hybrid tennis instead of one defined by craft.
A perfect tournament for Stan and just the tonic at a time when so many (myself included) had the Swiss not only planted back in Federer’s shadow (emphatically rubbished in that quarter final mauling) but written off as a one-slam wonder, albeit a supremely popular and well deserved one.
Can he go onwards and upwards once more? Well we’ll have to wait and see, and I’m not sure if Wimbledon will be the place for more Stan success.
What of Djokovic? A masterful display to dethrone and destroy the King of Clay, followed up by an equally impressive epic battle with the now back-to-his-dangerous-best Murray – a victory that may have ultimately proved the Serb’s undoing.
Was it a case of Wimbledon 2013 in this final too? The Serbinator finally fatigued and therefore vulnerable for attack? I think there was an element of that certainly; but really this was a Rosol-Nadal case of some unplayable tennis on show, and not even the greatest returner Novak could withstand it enough to triumph.
A Djokovic vs Murray final is looking the safest bet for Wimbles, depending on that draw of course.