The sun has set on a the first week at the French Open. As usual there were upsets, many of them expected. However, Serena Williams and Justine Henin, two pre-tournament favorites, have not disappointed. As such, the much touted quarterfinal encounter between these rivals is one round away. Here is a synopsis of the main developments of the initial days.
A bunch of big names took a tumble in the bottom section of the draw. Leading the pack was Svetlana Kuznetsova, the defending champion. After a miserable tune-up, Kuznetsova looked every bit the champion in the first round. Moreover, with her back against the wall in the second round, Kuznetsova salvaged four match points against Andrea Petkovic to advance. But, by the third round, Kuznetsova had utilized all her life lines. She was taken down in three sets by Maria Kirilenko.
Victoria Azarenka, the 9th seed, has had a tough year. The 2009 Sony Ericsson champ was schooled by Gisela Dulko, exiting in the first round. But, in the next round, Dulko was herself stunned by South African qualifier Channelle Scheepers. Scheepers reached the fourth round where she was stopped by Elena Dementieva. Another surprise was Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the winner in Rome, also going out in the first round.
As the newly re-minted number two and a finalist in Madrid, expectations were high that Venus Williams would at least make the semifinals. In the first three rounds, Venus forged a statement not only with her attire, but with her play by bouncing her adversaries in straight sets. Yet, in the round of 16, Venus’ game went through a transformation. Although this was their first meeting on clay, Venus had a 4-0 record against Nadia Petrova. Still, Petrova, a 2005 semifinalist, pulled off a straight sets victory. As such, for the fourth consecutive year, Venus was booted prior to the quarterfinals.
A combination of rain and obscurity resulted in a few matches being played over two days. When Aravane Rezai and Petrova resumed their third round with the third set leveled at 7, the French crowd was disenchanted as Petrova walked away with the win. Later that day, France’s last hope, Marion Bartoli, in the top half of the draw, was eliminated in the fourth round by Shahar Peer.
After fighting through Aleksandra Wozniak in the third round and an easy fourth round win, 2004 finalist Dementieva is unquestionably a contender for the finals. Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed, is another. Following two uncomplicated rounds, Wozniacki was severely tested by Alexandra Dulgheru and still captured her third match in straight sets. Then, in the round of 16, warrior Wozniacki bested Flavia Pennetta in a three hour duel to move on to her first quarterfinal in Paris. Bothered by an ankle injury, as Wozniacki faces scrappy Fransceca Schiavone, who booted Kirilenko, she may need to duplicated her last performance