Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three Days on Clay...

...and very little to show for it. As is becoming an annoying feature of the two Grand Slams played on "the Continent", the early summer rain is the lead theme of the French Open thus far.
After three days of play, the 1st round is just over 1/2 completed. Tomorrow was supposed to kick off the 2nd round action, but instead, matches scheduled for yesterday with either be finished, or, in a few cases, begun.
These weather delays do two things that are profoundly detrimental to the tourney:
1. all the energy and momentum that comes with a Grand Slam kicking off gets sapped away. It's really annoying to sit down to a day of action and find matches being replayed or commentators babbling away.
2. the back-log of matches causes a terrific rush to get everything back on schedule. Unless bad weather persists, which it very well might, the tournament end-date remains the same. This means that matches get crammed together on back-to-back days. Everyone that followed Wimbledon last year remembers the crushing schedule to get the tourney finished on time. The Nadal-Djokovic semifinal ended with Djokovic defaulting in the 3rd set, and the next day in the final (which proved to be a classic), every commentator and writer espoused the view that playing on consecutive days may have cost Nadal the championship. The French is in a similar situation, and with matches lasting longer and taking a greater physical toll on players, this is shaping up to be a battle of attrition.
So what to do? Well, Wimbledon is putting a retractable roof over Centre Court, but it doesn't seem like Roland Garros has any such plans. So we're left with a two week tournament collapsing into 10 days, perhaps less.
There have been some interesting results, none better than American Wayne Odesnik's three set, 4 hour tie-breakerathon win over 29th seed Guillermo Canas. Odesnik only got into the tourney through the USTA's exchange program with the French equivalent, but took advantage of the opportunity. Not only did he take out a seeded, clay-court specialist, but did it in three tiebreakers. Best of all, he broke through a serious mental block that had been plaguing him in big matches. Just last month, he had multiple match points in Houston to advance to his first ATP tournament final, but coughed them up and lost in three sets. Not so against Canas, and the 23 year old got through with probably the biggest victory of his career.
His second round match against Taiwan's Hyung Taik Lee will, at the rate things are going, get started sometime in June.

No comments: