And Then There Were Eight

French Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, June 1st, 2010

The Women

Samantha Stosur reacts after wining her match against Justine Henin

Samantha Stosur reacts after wining her match against Justine Henin

What would Roland Garros be without a stream of surprises? The women’s draw has already had its fair share and Monday was no exception. A primed Samantha Stosur not only snapped a personal losing streak to tournament favorite Justine Henin, but she also ended the Belgian’s 24 match win streak on the red clay. Henin’s win streak fell one short of Monica Seles and 4 short of Chris Evert’s record.

From the outset, it appeared the Belgian would dominate the match. Stosur made countless errors and her all court pressure strategy seemed a poor fit for the famed Roland Garros surface. Henin rode her stinging one-handed backhand and thunderous down the line forehands to a convincing first set win.

To her credit, the Aussie never crumpled. Instead, Samantha sharpened her big serve and continued to force play. Stosur was a semifinalist in Paris last year and she played as if determined to make a return trip this year. Stosur began to click on her groundstrokes and net play as she continued to carry the play to a surprised Henin.

After evening the match at 2-6, 6-1, Samantha, the seven seed and Justine, the 22nd seed, went toe-to toe in the critical third set. The Aussie broke in the fifth game to seize the advantage. Like the four-time French Open Champion that she is, Justine answered with a timely break to even the set.

Henin’s normally reliable backhand faltered in the all-important ninth game. When Stosur gained the advantage at 5-4, she let her big serve do the talking and gained the quarters with her 6-4 final set win. Henin’s serve continues to lack the sharpness she needs to win on the tour.

Samantha improved her stellar clay court season record to 18-2. The win earned her a quarterfinal match against the top seed, Serena Williams in the draw’s most difficult bracket.

Winner Poker

Serena made quick work of Israel’s Shahar Peer in a very convincing 6-2, 6-2 win over the 18 seed. Williams was never threatened in the one-hour match. Williams will be a heavy favorite over the Aussie although this match will be their first on clay.

Jalena Jankovic continued her fine play with a solid 6-4, 6-2 win over Daniela Hantuchova. The fourth seed ended a two-match losing streak to Daniela and secured her quarterfinal berth opposite Yaroslava Shvedova.

Shvedova reached her first quarterfinal with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over wildcard Jarmila Groth, who made the most of her Paris opportunity. Jankovic has a 2-1 edge over Shvedova in their head-to-head matches.

The Men

Rafael Nadal at French Open

Rafael Nadal at French Open

Rafa Nadal not only gained the quarterfinals but also recorded his 200th clay court win against Thomaz Bellucci, 6-2, 7-5, 7-4 in just under two hours. The favored second seed has appeared invincible thus far and gave no signs of easing up against overmatched opponents.

Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent will be Spanish teammate 19th seeded Nicolas Almagro who continued his unlikely charge with a 6-1. 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 triumph over seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco. Almagro overcame some first serve difficulties against a hot and cold Verdasco whose game lacked the left-hander’s usual flair.

Almagro has never beaten Rafael Nadal. The second seed holds a 6-0 lifetime record against his countryman.

Seasoned performers Novak Djokovic and Jurgen Melzer ended the dreams of two young upstarts. The third seeded Djokovic stumbled in the second set against the 98th ranked American Robby Ginepri but continued his clay court dominance over Americans with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 win. The Serb ran his all-court record to 27-6 against Americans and 5-0 against Ginepri.

Earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles...

German Jurgen Melzer had a more difficult time with 114th ranked qualifier Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili. The 25-year old only committed 12 errors in the second set but Jurgen had too much firepower and too much experience when he needed it. Melzer’s 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 hard earned win places him in the quarters against Djokovic.

Today’s Quarterfinal Matches

Roger Federer – Robin Soderling
Tomaz Berdych – Mikhail Youhzny

Caroline Wozniacki – Francesca Schiavone
Elena Dementieva – Nadia Petrova


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