Five thoughts on the draws for the French Open:
Were the tennis gods “spitting in the face” of both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams? For the next fortnight, Serena would like to be known as ‘Chantel Williams’. She thinks that sounds so French. The Californian is at home in the city; she has an apartment in the seventh arrondissement, on the Left Bank, and has been known to travel around on a rented bicycle.
Still, compared to her results at the other grand slams, she hasn’t been so successful at Roland Garros – it’s now 10 years since she won the trophy, and she hasn’t been back to a final since. This year, she arrives in Paris still unbeaten on clay this spring, after tournament victories in Charleston and Madrid, and withdrawing from the Rome tournament, after making the semi-finals, because of a back injury. The back is now fine. The draw wasn’t so fine – she is projected to meet Sharapova in the last eight. Sports Illustrated have suggested that the tennis gods were “spitting in Maria’s face” with this draw. You could also make the argument that they were spitting in Serena’s face, too. Sharapova has looked comfortable on the surface this year, winning in Stuttgart and Rome.
Donald Young versus Grigor Dimitrov in round one – who’s the future now? Young was the future once. Then he wasn’t, then he was again, and now – is this right? – people aren’t so sure. The American has won just two matches all year, and now he finds himself paired in the first round with Dimitrov, the young Bulgarian who perhaps hasn’t as progressed as quickly as had been hoped (by others).
Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams have a possible second-round meeting. With Venus thrusting to qualify for the Olympics, and with Radwanksa coming into French Open at her highest-ever ranking – third – this match, if it happens, will be worth watching.
Francesca Schiavone and Kimiko Date Krumm will be trying to show up the teenagers. When Schiavone won the title two years ago, she was the second oldest first-time champion of the modern era. She’s now 31, but 10 years younger than her first-round opponent, the remarkable Date Krumm. So, a combined age out there of 72 years.
Of the top four men, Andy Murray has the roughest draw (the tennis gods were spitting in his face too). Murray, who has been paired with Japan’s Tatsuma Ito in the first round, could have to beat Bernard Tomic (possible third round), Richard Gasquet (fourth round), David Ferrer (quarter-final) and Rafael Nadal (semi-final) if he is to make a first French Open final. Not easy with a pain-free back; even tougher when your back has been causing you discomfort throughout the clay-court swing.