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Saturday, May 28, 2011

French Open: Setting the Sweet Sixteen

Every big tournament has its most interesting matches, but there is little that exceeds the excitement of the round of sixteen. No, these women aren't in the spotlight of the championship (yet), but it's in the fourth round where many of the tour's greatest players begin colliding with their fellow highly ranked rivals. With the third round over and done with, the stage has been set. So let's take a look at how some of these women got here.

We've already covered the woes of Wozniacki, but the third round had some other great highlights as well—the biggest in the eyes of the French crowd being Bartoli's win over Julia Goerges. Now, the French two-hander is ranked higher than Goerges, but the young German has come off a hot-streak, defeating the world no. 1 in consecutive meetings, and appeared to have the edge in this third round match. Leading 4-0 in the first set, Goerges was playing at full tilt. Bartoli could do little but sigh and roll her eyes between points, unable to get a feel for her own game. But that's only how it began. Bartoli started putting pressure on Goerges' shots and the German began to waver, hitting a few consecutive errors on her stronger forehand side. Despite the momentary lapse of concentration, Goerges won the first set at 6-3, but you could tell that Marion had only just begun and the second set would be much more competitive.

And competitive it was. Bartoli found her range and began to strike deep, but the true story of the second set was Julia's inability to find the court. With clay particles bothering her right eye, it was clear Goerges' head was not completely in the match and soon she found herself flubbing the set 6-2. The eye problems seemed to disappear in the final set, but this is where the story changed again: Bartoli began to deserve her win. The frenchwoman finally started hitting winners and the crowd was on her side. Before Julia could really dig into the set she was down 5-2, and although she answered back to 5-4, Bartoli prevailed in her final service game.

Jankovic has fans feeling confident again after a 6-2 6-2 victory over surging American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. It was wonderful to see the Serbian sliding across the clay like she did in her most confident days, redirecting Mattek's power into unreachable spaces of the court. With her newly improved serve, Jankovic finally has the final piece to add to what was once a near-unbeatable game. A win over Schiavone next might just return this Serb to grandeur.

Reclaiming greatness is something we won't be seeing from 2010 French Open finalist, Sam Stosur after a surprising loss to Argentina's Gisela Dulko. The Australian will lose more than ranking points after this match, having leveled the match with a 6-1 second set. It appeared Stosur would dictate the final set, but Dulko had her own agenda, halting Stosur at 6-3.

Other players who advanced include Zvonareva, Kuznetsova, Sharapova and more. The biggest threat for the crown appears to be Victoria Azarenka, whose ferocious play style has been overwhelming her opponents. For full 3rd round results check Day 6 and Day 7.

UPCOMING 'Round of 16' MATCHES:

Hantuchova v. Kuznetsova
Bartoli v. Dulko
Zvonareva v. Pavlyuchenkova
Jankovic v. Schiavone
Na v. Kvitova
Makarova v. Azarenka
Sharapova v. Radwanska
Petkovic v. Kirilenko.

-Kedzie Teller, ITB Senior Editor

1 comments:

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