© Ella Ling

Novak Djokovic - Olympics

Notes from Roland Garros: the middle weekend


It’s been a busy three days in Paris. Here are some take-home highlights…

Big win
Novak Djokovic is still invincible. The world No.1 came from two sets to love down for only the third time in his career, defeating Andreas Seppi to keep his dream of a first French Open title alive. Although Seppi played admirably, Djokovic was off the boil for the opening sets, before producing the increasingly infamous dig-deep-ability that characterised his wins in Australia and New York this year and last to win 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Another big win
Dominika Cibulkova. It was on the Parisian red clay that the pint-sized Slovakian first proved her mettle on a tennis court, reaching the semi-finals way back in 2009. She replicated that form in spectacular fashion at Roland Garros on Sunday, unseating the world No.1 and top seed Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-6(4) to reach the quarter-finals and achieve her first win over a sitting world No.1.

On a roll
If Sara Errani was impressive in her three-set win over Ana Ivanovic on Friday, coming from behind to win in three sets, she was nigh on extraordinary during a 6-0, 7-5 dismantling of former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The diminutive Italian, who has been tearing her way through titles in 2012, winning three in singles and five in doubles, left the Russian completely shell-shocked. It was tough on Kuznetsova, who had produced a flawless tournament to knock out Agnieszka Radwanska, one of the form players of the year, the round before.

Dark horse
Kaia Kanepi, the Estonian big-hitter, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris in 2008 and the Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finals in 2010, has started to come good after an indifferent year. She plays Dutch young gun Arantxa Rus in the last 16, who knocked out Julia Goerges.

One to watch
David Goffin. The Belgian 21-year-old, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the skinny chap from Road Trip, made the world sit up and pay attention when he took the first set off Roger Federer in their fourth round match. Goffin, who admitted to having posters of Federer on the wall of his bedroom, couldn’t do more than that against the former champion, but certainly acquitted himself extremely well. And got a hug from Federer at the end.

Marathon matches
The Djokovic thriller aside, there were several rip-roaring five-setters over the weekend  – Stanislas Wawrinka’s survival over Gilles Simon, Juan Monaco’s over Milos Raonic, Andreas Seppi’s over Fernando Verdasco, Tomas Berdych against Kevin Anderson, and Marcel Granollers over Paul-Henri Mathieu. And, of course, another epic in progress between Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, which is poised at 4-2 to Tsonga in the fifth.

Cruising through
Sam Stosur, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova, Klara Zakopalova, Yarasolva Shvedova, all won their respective fourth and third round matches in straight sets. As did Nicolas Almagro, Rafael Nadal, Janko Tipsarevic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Long way home for
Francesca Schiavone. The 2010 champion suffered an agonizing 8-6 in the third defeat to another American, Varvara Lepchenko. Still, given her lack of results in 2012, other than a title the week before the French Open began, Schiavone will have been pleased just to make it into the third round.

Strange scoreline
Richard Gasquet’s 6-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 win over Tommy Haas to reach the fourth round. Haas must have run out of all his puff. He plays Andy Murray next, for what is sure to be another in their series of fascinating Grand Slam matches.

Talk of the town
For the last couple of days has been US youngster Sloane Stephens, who reached her first Grand Slam fourth round here in Paris, the first American into the last 16 since Serena Williams 11 years ago. She may have gone down in two to Sam Stosur, but her reward will be a place inside the top 60 next Monday.

Happy Birthday…
Rafa. Hope he got through his sizeable birthday cake.

Come back tomorrow for…
On Philippe Chatrier: David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (to finish), Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray v Richard Gasquet, Varvara Lepchenko v Petra Kvitova.

On Suzanne Lenglen: Janko Tipsarevic v Nicolas Almagro, Juan Martin Del Potro v Tomas Berdych (to finish), Li Na v Yaroslava Shvedova, Juan Monaco v Rafael Nadal, Arantxa Rus v Kaia Kanepi.

On Court 3, British junior Kyle Edmund, on Court 10, British junior Liam Broady, on Court 14, British junior Luke Bambridge, on Court 16, Petra Kvitova’s boyfriend Adam Pavlasek.