From the American perspective there were a couple of big upsets and a major surprise today.
Things got off on the wrong foot when top ranked Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan lost to the Brazilian team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares 3-6, 6-7(8-6). The Bryans had come to Europe early and played on the dirt. After their loss they said they were heading back to California implying that they were home sick and had been in Europe too long.
Soon after this loss perennial top ten player Andy Roddick lost to Teimuraz Gabashvili, the Russian qualifer 4, 4 and 2. I'd heard of Gabashvili prior to today and seen him play unlike the announcers who seemed not to have a clue who he was let alone that he was capable of playing good clay court tennis. While both men had 20 unforced errors Gabashvili had a stunning 58 winners compared to Roddick's 14 with Gabashvili winning a total of 102 points against Roddick's 73.
One blogger posted these comments after the match.
For Andy Roddick, Paris Was Just Practice
No, much like Murray, who has fought his way to another second week appearance, Roddick meant to use Paris as a springboard to later results. They may well spar for the title in Queens, where Murray is defending champion and Roddick has lifted the title four times.
Roddick in particular will enjoy moving to surfaces where his serve will count for more and opponents won’t have so much time for passing shots.
That left the forgotten American, Robby Ginepri(above), as the last man standing. I don't know why Ginepri is always an afterthought but today he became the lead when he managed to pull out a 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 win over Juan Carlos Ferrero who on paper had to be the prohibitive favorite to move on to the next round. Ginepri will play Novak Djokovic next.
Lost in all the talk about the American men was Serena Williams overcoming a dizzy spell and winning her match over the young up and coming Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Serena blasted through the first set managing to execute a slide into a shot to perfection along the way. When she started the second set it was as if she was on one of her sister's walkabout's. She called for the trainer who took her temperature and checked her pulse before giving her some medication. That did the trick as Serena righted the ship and won 6-1, 1-6, 6-2. She was going to take the court to play doubles with her sister Venus Williams but their opponents, Caroline Wozniacki and Daniela Hantuchova, both still active in the singles draw, withdrew.
The conclusion of the match between Aravane Rezai and Nadia Petrova ended with Nadia winning 10-8 in the third set. You hardly knew anyone was in the stands.
The most anticipated match of the day, at least by the American announcers, was the one between Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin. The French fans didn't seem too interested as there were tons of empty seats in Chatrier.
The match started late and the first set belonged to Henin. She was bossing a listless Sharapova around the court and it looked as if she was going to run away with the match. Instead Maria woke up and the second set was an eye opener. Sharapova, using every inch of her six foot plus frame jerked Henin around the court like a marionette. In a dominating display she rolled over Henin 6-3 after losing the first set 6-2. Where Justine had made Maria chase drop shots and short balls in the first set Maria just, to borrow a phrase, made every shot a power shot (Thanks to Canon for coining that one). There was nothing Justine or Carlos could do.
Once again the players took the court after 8p Paris time and it was never a question that the match would either be over or stopped after the second set. The NBC announcers were aghast asking why Maria wanted to stop. Maybe because it was dark? I mean d'uh. Gael Monfils was raked over the coals by the media and some fans for choosing to continue when he felt he was on a roll just a couple of days ago. I guess it's different when the talking heads are fans of the player they want to continue.
In Other News...
I watched most of the match between Jarmila Groth and Anastasia Rodionova this morning my time. What should have been a straight set victory for Groth ended up going three sets when Groth, serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, froze and lost that set 7-5. She came back to win the third set 6-2. I wasn't impressed with either woman.
Groth will play Yaroslava Shvedova in the next round. I didn't see any of this match.
I warned everyone that NBC had afternoon coverage today and tomorrow. Going in I knew there wouldn't be ESPN3 to fall back on if they totally screwed up but I assumed there would be live streams. I assumed wrong. NBC made sure that every single live stream available in the United States was shut down. That meant whether you wanted to or not you had to watch the matches of most interest to the perceived American audience as defined by the tennis folks at NBC. My fangirl streak came out on Twitter because I didn't have the choice of watching the match I wanted to watch. Of course every player has his or her KAD's so some people were very happy since players like Fernando Verdasco and the aforementioned Robby Ginepri made it onto American television screens. Yes that is a good thing. But I wanted to see another match. Isn't the digital age all about choice?
Last but not least The Slob got to interview Roger Rasheed and Marat Safin. I have no clue what either Rasheed or Marat said. Rasheed I wasn't that interested in but as far as Marat went I just wanted to look at the pretty. Apparently so did The Slob who couldn't resist touching either man. Maybe that's just his way. I don't know. I read reports that Marat chided him for only showing him breaking racquets instead of showing some of his wins. Davai Marat.