Sharapova

rafa french open 2014 semi

Torrential rain delayed the start of quarterfinal action on day 11 of the French Open Wednesday and looked like it was going to force the 5th set of both men’s semifinals to be postponed due to darkness.  But both Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray managed to dominate the 5th set of their matches to finish business in record time as the sun was setting over Paris.

monfilsIn what looked like it should be a fast match for Murray, pilule Frenchman Gaël Monfils looked as if he had been playing possum the first two sets – Murray was looking like he was on the ropes. It seemed certain that the match wouldn’t have time to finish before dark, treat but with Murray clearly irritated by the call from the umpire to continue play in the fading light, buy he only needed 24 minutes for the last set to defeat Monfils 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 with Monfils winning just seven points in the entire last set.

MEN’S SINGLES SEMIFINALS FRIDAY

Nadal to play Murray Friday

Can anybody stop Nadal? In an unbelievable match that was looking like a nail-biter early on and perhaps even a loss for top-seeded Nadal, Rafa defeated fellow countryman David Ferrer, the man who lost last year’s final to the eight-time French Open champion.

After a slow start in which he conceded the first set 6-4, Nadal hit back to take the next three sets 6-4 6-0 6-1. The World No.1, who was beaten at Monte Carlo in April by Ferrer, remains a huge favorite to win the title.

Djokovich vs Gulbis

Gulbis defeats Berdych in quarterfinals

Gulbis defeats Berdych in quarterfinals

Ernests Gulbis followed up his victory over Roger Federer by crushing sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-2 6-4 to claim a place in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career.

Gulbis will meet second-seeded Novak Djokovic, who was impressive in his 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic. Djokovic is through to his 22nd Grand Slam semi-final and has reached the last four at 14 of the last 15 Grand Slam tournaments.

WOMEN’S SINGLES SEMIFINALS THURSDAY

Genie Bouchard advances to seminfinals

Genie Bouchard advances to seminfinals

Sharapova vs Bouchard

Maria Sharapova had a sloppy first set vs 35th ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the quarterfinals, but grabbed control of the match by breaking her to go up by 6-5 in the second set and served out the set and easily winning the last set 6-1.

The seventh-seeded Sharapova has emerged as one favorite in this upset-filled tournament. Last year’s champion Serena Williams (1) was easily defeated in the 2nd round by Muguruza 6-2, 6-2. Second-seeded and Aussie Open champion Na Li was shockingly defeated in the 1st round by 103th ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Sharapova will meet 18th seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. Twenty year old Bouchard is currently on a streak – winning 10 matches in a row – including a run to her first WTA title in Nuremberg, Germany, the week before the French Open began.

Bouchard was inspired to take up tennis when she saw Sharapova’s Wimbledon victory 10 years ago at age 17. However, Genie has made clear that she isn’t intimidated by Sharapova by telling reporters, “We’re not friends, so there is that. Of course as a child I looked up to her and I remember watching her in the finals of Wimbledon and, you know, thought what she was doing was so cool and I wanted to do the same thing. We’re in the semis of a Grand Slam, so I’m going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle.”

Petkovic vs Halep

Halep Beats Petkovic In Nürnberg Final

Halep Beats Petkovic In Nürnberg Final

Neither Petkovic nor Halep has ever played in the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. But they will meet on Thursday for a spot in the final.

Andrea Petkovic, a 28th-seeded German, beat 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy 6-2, 6-2 and fourth-seeded Simona Halep defeated 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, also 6-2, 6-2.

TV COVERAGE

The Women’s semifinals is scheduled for Thursday, June 5th at 8 a.m. on ESPN2, as well as on NBC beginning at 10 a.m. (CT).  The Women’s final will be played Saturday, June 7th beginning at 8 a.m. (CT) and shown on NBC.

The Men’s semifinals will begin at 7 a.m. Friday, June 6th on the Tennis Channel and from 10 a.m. on NBC. The Men’s final will be Sunday, June 8th at 8 a.m and broadcast by NBC.

Have a Smashing Day! Smashing Golf & Tennis apparel is now available at the Made in Chicago boutique at 17 E Pearson St, Chicago.

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Nadal Winning French Open for 8th Time (NYTimes.com)

The 2013 French Open culminated on Sunday with Rafael Nadal winning a record eighth title with a straight sets 6-3 6-2 6-3 dismissal of fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. Commentator and tennis legend John McEnroe summed it up best midway through the match, advice “This is like a heavyweight versus a welterweight”.  This match was all Nadal – the undisputed “King of Clay”.

Protesters Disrupt French Open

French Open Protestor (ABCNews.com)

The final was briefly interrupted by a man protesting same-sex marriage by waving a lighted flare. Nadal was serving for the second set at 5-1 when a shirtless man with a white mask ran onto the court and came to within a few feet of Nadal.  The intruder was quickly tackled by security staff, check but  red smoke was still billowing over the court as play continued. What was surely an incredibly scary situation for everyone involved, the incident clearly shook both the players on the court and the fans in the stands.

Nadal Triumphant (Newsday.com)

Understandably shaken, Nadal dropped his service but quickly regained his composure to close out the set in the next game.

After which point, there was no doubt that this was going to be a short match, lasting only 136 minutes. A stark contrast to the 277 minute Nadal vs Djokovic semifinal match Friday.

This is Nadal’s 12th grand slam title – especially sweet after his prolonged eighth month absence due to a knee injury – only returning to match play in February. He also becomes the first man to win the same grand slam title eight times – breaking out of a tie with Roger Federer and Pete Sampras – both of who have seven wins apiece at Wimbledon. Nadal also broke the men’s record for match wins at Roland Garros, where he improved to 59-1, with his lone defeat against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.

Nadal def Ferrer (Photo: AP)

Nadal has beaten every one of his top rivals in Paris: Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray and Ferrer. “If he continues that way, who is to stop him?” Ferrer asked.

“It’s clear this year means something very special to me,” Nadal said. “Five months ago nobody in my team dreamed of a comeback like this, because we thought it would be impossible. But here we are today, and that’s really fantastic and incredible.”

Serena Wins 16th Grand Slam

Serena def Sharapova

No. 1-ranked Serena Williams won her first French Open championship since 2002, when she beat her sister Venus. Serena dominated the clay Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Maria Sharapova.

Eager to repeat the elation of 2002, and motivated by the disappointment of 2012, Williams used terrific defense and her usual powerful hitting in Saturday’s final.

Serena Served 10 Aces (Photo: AP)

Topping her great hitting, Williams served 10 aces in the final, including three in the final game, and the last coming on match point at 123 mph – her hardest serve of the day.

“Eleven years,” Williams said in French during the trophy ceremony. “I think it’s unbelievable. Now I have 16 Grand Slam titles. It’s difficult for me to speak because I’m so excited.”

The victory completed her rebound from a shocking loss to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano in the first round at the French Open a year ago. Since that defeat she’s 74-3, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the London Olympics and the season-ending WTA Championships.

French Open Finals (ESPN.com)

At 31, she became the oldest woman to win a major title since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990 at age 33. Her 11-year gap between Roland Garros titles is the longest for any woman.

Now comes the switch to grass, and she’ll be a heavy favorite to win Wimbledon for the sixth time. Wimbledon 2013 begins on Monday, June 24 and ends on Sunday, July 7 and I’ll be back in a couple weeks to cover the classic event at the All England Club.

Smashing Golf & Tennis www.SmashingOnline.com
(Photo: Mike Caplan)

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The semifinals did not disappoint this morning at the French Open in Roland Garros, try France. Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in a five set thriller that has left the tennis and sports world buzzing! Read on for the must know details and a preview of the Men’s and Women’s Finals, the climatic finish of the 2013 French Open.

Five Set Djokovic v Nadal Semi – Highlight of the French Open

In a five set thriller at Roland Garros Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7. This epic match is sure to be the highlight of the 2013 French Open, if not the Grand Slam year, with Nadal set to be the heavy favorite in the semifinal Sunday vs. Ferrer.

Nadal defeats Djokovic (Photo: skysports.com)

Rafa had a several opportunities in the 4th set to put the match away, but Djokovic showed everyone why he’s currently ranked #1 and pulled out that set in the tiebreaker. There was some concern that Nadal, coming off an injury and not playing a 5-set match in 18 months, would be able to last the 5th set.

Nadal def Djokovic (Photo: SI.com)

The tense fifth set will be a match that will be deemed one of the classics of all time with countless remarkable shots when the point should have already been over. The fifth set alone lasted longer than Serena’s entire match vs Errani the previous day. There is no tie-breaker in the 5th set, and the match must continue until the a player is up by 2 games, which ended 9-7 with Djokovic hitting his last shot out of bounds.  It looked like Djokovic just lost his focus at the end, arguing a little at the umpire about watering the baseline area, during the change of sides.

Men’s Finals

Nadal vs Ferrer Sunday

Ferrer def Tsonga (Photo SI.com)

PS Tsonga and Ferrer also played Friday.  Ferrer beat Tsonga in straight sets, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 in an anti-climatic match following the Nadal vs Djokovic nail-biter.

My prediction – not really going out on a limb here, but Nadal will win his 8th French Open on Sunday at 8 am on NBC in 4 sets.

Women’s Finals

Serena vs Sharapova Saturday

Serena easily defeats Errani in Semi (Photo: Reuters)

Serena Williams advanced to the French Open women’s final for the first time in over a decade. She faces Maria Sharapova, who is making her second straight final appearance as defending champion at Roland Garros at Saturday at 8 a.m. CT on NBC.

Despite her champion status, the second-seeded Sharapova hasn’t had much success against Williams throughout her career. Serena leads the all-time series 13-2, including 5-2 in finals.

Williams, the women’s overall top seed, has been utterly dominant to this point in the tournament, and has only dropped one set and boasts a 30-match winning streak coming into the championship round. Sharapova may be the defending champion of this tournament, but she will be at a major disadvantage on Saturday taking on a player who has dominated her in recent matchups.

Sharapova def. Azarenka (Photo: usatoday.com)

Maria Sharapova, the defending champion, struggled in the second set but overcame 11 double-faults to win a semifinal against Victoria Azarenka, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

My prediction – Sharapova hasn’t beaten Williams in nine years, and looks set on adding another title to the trophy case.

 

 

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