As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, it's apt for the men's tour especially at this moment coming up to the quarter finals of any Grand Slam Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are there and Roland Garros was no different. So, this piece will focus on the other things of interest that happened in the tournament.
Yes, the French still love their Sunday starts. The take on this idea depends on whether you believe the FFT really care for fans and providing an extra day for matches is through benevolence. The reality is different, it's just a way for the tournament to make extra money which will help pay for the much needed redevelopment of the Roland Garros site. After the experiment where they put Roger Federer on a Sunday against Diego Hartfield and Federer was less than amused after winning his match "I can drive to and back from Switzerland before my next round match". Needless to say they didn't put any more big stars on this day after this experiment.
With this out of the way, there have been some entertaining moments in the earlier rounds. Breakthroughs, resurgence, one of the candidates for worst match of the year, grunting drama and some on court arguments all good fun.
After Grega Žemlja and Aljaž Bedene failed to qualify for the main draw, it was up to Blaž Kavčič to carry Slovenian hopes and fortunately he was able to defend his 2nd round points from last year. Yes, it doesn't sound like much of an achievement considering how poor he has been this season it's quite good.
Blaž Kavčič celebrates
He defeated Hewitt in the 1st round, who received the Aussie wildcard which was a debatable decision in itself. Can see why people thought Marinko Matosevic should have got it for his improvement during the season and doing well on the clay, but they went for the old name and at least with this the Kavčič match was able to seen, if he played Matosevic then wouldn't have seen a rare win. It was quite good for Hewitt being out there 4 hours after the surgery, suffering no ill effects but what told him was the lack of match play. Can do all the work you want in the gym, running track or the forest but it doesn't get much tough which Kavčič is though he hasn't had a good season so far.
Blaž Kavčič hits shot of the day
After an awful first set Kavčič played quite well against Djokovic even up an early break in the 2nd set but he doesn't have the weapons besides determination to really trouble the top guys and lost in straight sets. Back to the Challengers and then Wimbledon, it's an interesting time for Kavčič it's been almost a year since he and Adrian Voinea parted ways, yet there hasn't been any improvement on what they built on. Sometimes it's better to get quality coaching and not have someone travel all the time, than the situation with Trupej who hasn't helped Kavčič since he has been in the job.
Fabio Fognini Files
The Fog showing his stuff
What's Roland Garros without a Fabio Fognini 5 setter, if we didn't have one of them then that's like Nadal not winning the tournament. This time the victim was Viktor Troicki who played one of the worst matches on tour to beat Thomaz "The Ostrich" Bellucci in 5 sets both guys were hideously awful. Troicki was just running and grinding, Bellucci making dumb errors. Troicki serves for 3nd set: broken three times in a row, 5-2 to 5-7. Troicki serves for 4th set: broken, Bellucci gets broken back to love. Troicki serves for 5th set: broken and Bellucci gives it back. The match was so bad the spectators should have been given their money back and a percentage of Troicki's and Bellucci's prizemoney for that pollution.
Fognini thankfully took out Troicki in 5 sets after saving 2 match points. The match was classic Fog looked bored junk balling back and forth, then going for a slapped forehand when he felt like it. The 5th set well "The Fog" was up a break then lost serve from 40-0 up. Somehow through the Fog's carelessness Troicki gets 2 match points, but on the first one Fog slipped and Troicki had so much room he could drive a truck down the line with the backhand and misses once this happened. Troicki was picking on the ballkids and wanting the court to be watered, but he was trolled by "The Fog". Third year in a row Fognini has a dramatic 5 setter at Roland Garros which he won, he dances to his own tune but it brings entertainment.
Welcome back Paulo
On the entertainment theme it was fantastic to see Paul-Henri Mathieu back on court again at Roland Garros after knee surgery. He didn't have much form coming into the event, but he got a wildcard which in this case was deserved. Coming back from 2 sets down against Björn Phau, it's only the second time he has done it and both at this venue. Apart from his booming groundstrokes and aggressive game he is infamous for his chokes and ability to lose big leads by becoming too tense.
Surprise surprise John Isner was involved in another long match with a Frenchman and Boris Becker who had spent too much time in the broom closet kept calling PHM Mahut instead of Mathieu. Sure they are both French but Mahut has a wonderful amount of gel in his hair, something Mathieu doesn't have and their games are different as well.
Mathieu and Isner
If you were getting odds on Mathieu winning 2 5 setters in a row before the tournament they'd have been generous. The Isner match was full of drama, big John serving huge and saving 17/22 break points with big serving, Mathieu didn't get too down on himself when he wasn't converting the chances which was key and only on one of the match points did he have a chance. His comments after this match were apt "coming back was worth it for moments like this" and one of the better moments of the tournaments. The Mathieu show ended losing to Marcel Granollers in 5 sets towards the end Paulo just ran out of petrol.
Marcel Granollers Pump Up the Volume
Grunting and how to fix this, has been an issue on the WTA more so than on the ATP. Señor Granollers has helped raised the issue whether he wanted to or not. It has overshadowed his performances, yes he has an unorthodox and definitely not a stylish game but it's effective. The shovel backhand, funky forehand, he at least does come to the net and has an idea what to do up there.
His 1st round match at Joao Sousa of Portugal had plenty of niggle from Sousa and the Portuguese fans.
Sousa was angry about Granollers taking injury timeout then running like a rabbit and time wasting using his leg as an excuse then it got better.
Granollers said Sousa disrespected him. Sousa replied " shut up". Granollers won the match & said "take that you piece of crap". Sousa then responds by calling Granollers "a son of a bitch".
The Portuguese fans get on Granollers case at the end of the match after Marcel gave them the "shh" gesture.
His timewasting and grunting didn't help. He saved match points against Jaziri and there were a few heated discussions in that match as well.
After he defeated Mathieu it was really highlighted as it was a tactical grunt that was held for so long until Mathieu hit the ball. At times there was no grunting, then later there was a sound that sounded like trying to fight against severe constipation or giving birth through the rear. French crowd weren't amused they will appreciate good play, but don't tolerate nonsense. Ferrer chopped Marcel in the end, but the best one was grunting on a slice backhand.
Andreas Seppi continued his fine run of form from winning Belgrade, saving 6 match points against Wawrinka in Rome with his first ever 4th round showing at a Grand Slam. Had two tough 5 sets over Kukushkin and Verdasco in which he was outstanding hitting more winners than Verdasco which was surprising and also he has struggled against him in the past.
Yes, he lost a 2-0 sets lead to Novak Djokovic, but it never really felt like he was going to win it. Played a poor first game in the 3rd set and cumulative effect of the previous two matches didn't help at the end of the match, going for more as he was out of position due to a bit of tiredness and can't do that against Djokovic. Need everything to be working at its optimum level to have any sustained success against the top guys.
Andreas Seppi "King of South Tyrol"
The past two months have been excellent for Seppi who works hard, honest and fair player, you don't see fake timeouts with him, making the most out of his talents. The increased flexibility has helped him overall in his game and is knocking on the door of the top 20. As for whether he can make the top 20, well Troicki and Robredo managed it, doesn't mean Seppi will but it will be well deserved if he manages this feat.
David "The Goff" Goffin little did he know when he lost to Joao Sousa in the final round of qualies, That he got the Lucky Loser spot when Monfils withdrew with injury. Following in the footsteps of Big Dick Norman as a Belgian who made the 4th round of a Slam as a lucky loser he impressed many people who hadn't seen him play before.
Don't Hassle The Goff"
Possibly this could be the breakthrough event for The Goff, he took down Stepanek, Clement, Kubot and took his hero Roger Federer to 4 sets. It would be good if he got a wildcard for Wimbledon, but he needs to improve his strength and durability to build on this result. It’s funny how the Walloon players are small the Rochus brothers, Darcis, the Goff, not enough growth hormone in the chicken.
Youzhny is sorry for poor form
Among the other moments where the ridiculously poor play from Mikhail Youzhny against Ferrer where no matter what he did it turned to shit. We've all had days like this in life except for most people they aren't that public. With the shoe writing "Sorri" in the clay and the crowd appreciated it. Murray having back spasms and Nieminen forgot how to play tennis, if a guy has a back problem the dropshots and lob combination always test the back. Jarkko is just too nice and not ruthless enough.
Andy Roddick Clay Clown"
Overall the event has had the mix of the bizarre, high quality performances, funny antics, and some mind numbingly awful matches. In spite of this we know how this tournament will end, with the winner coming from the big 3, the positive side of the predictability is that once again Andy Roddick didn't make the 2nd week at Roland Garros. More things change, the more they stay the same.