When Grand Slam tennis is on, I'm always glued in front of the television screen, exams or no exams. No exception to that rule was last week, the first week of Roland Garros 2009. It was a very interesting tennis week, with a significant amount of top class matches and some very unexpected losses. The highlights:
- Last year's champion and also favourite for this year's title, Rafael Nadal, rushed through the first three rounds (beating Daniel and crushing Gabashvili and ex-number one Hewitt), only to surprisingly lose in the fourth round against Swedish subtop player Söderling.
- Novak Djokovic was supposed to be one of the most important outsiders to challenge Nadal, but he didn't even survive the third round, when German clay specialist Kohlschreiber crossed his path.
- Someone who did better than expected, is Nikolai Davydenko. The Russian is of course an excellent player, but nobody really thought he already had enough match rythm to really challenge the big guys in this Slam. Wrong. Davydenko well impressed against young talents Wawrinka and Verdasco.
- However, like usual, my eyes are mainly focused on Roger Federer, who is eager to finally win Roland Garros and even Sampras's Grand Slam record. Federer had some tough matches, especially against gravel specialist Acasuso as well as this afternoon at the start of week 2, battling a strong Tommy Haas (who - we may not forget - is a former number two, and whose rather moderate ranking is only due to lots of unjuries). But fortunately there's enough to keep the hopes up. Roger already showed us some new techniques, is mentally ready for big challenges (against Haas, he returned from 0-2 to 3-2 in sets!) and still has that great touch we love so much (which he especially demonstrated against Mathieu). Come on Roger!
- The road seems to be open for Roger Federer to win his first Roland Garros now Djokovc and Rafa are out, but danger is lurking only right around the corner. Murray, Roddick, Tsonga, Monfils, Del Porto and Davydenko are only a few names to look out for.
- Women's tennis is pretty boring nowadays, lacking real champions. However, my vote for this Roland Garros goes out to Safina, who is playing excellent so far (only giving away 5 games in 4 matches!) and who kind of deserves it as well.
- When it comes down to new female talents on the horizon, I'd like to point out Larcher de Brito, a 16-year-old girl from Portugal who made it until the third round, where she lost from Rezai. It's a girl with a temper (!!) but I kind of like that commitment, and it's clear her techniques are great.