June 6th, 2014
Friday Tennis Blog: Last American Standing at the French? Not Who You Think
SERENA AND CAROLINE’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE — You and your friend have lost early at the French Open, and one of you just emerged from a very public break-up. What to do? Paint the town and hit the beach in Miami! Florida’s Serena Williams and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki headed from Paris to Miami to catch the Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs, then to the beach to forget their sorrows in the surf and sun, and model some “racy swim wear.” Was Serena, a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins, looking to add to her portfolio with the Heat? While on the beach, Serena took the opportunity to crash a wedding occurring on the beach in her one-piece leopard-print swimsuit. Wozniacki is looking to move on after her break-up with golfer Rory McIlroy, and both players are looking to move on to the grasscourt season, which starts this week, and peaks at Wimbledon beginning on June 23. Barring any wildcards, Serena is not listed among the participants at any of the Wimbledon warm-up events in Birmingham, ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) or Eastbourne.
FLORIDA TEEN LAST AMERICAN STANDING — Can you name the last American player standing at the French Open in main draw or junior singles play? It was…drumroll please…16-year-old Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident Stefan Kozlov. The No. 6 seed in the boys’ singles and the No. 1 seed in the boys’ doubles was defeated in the singles quarterfinals on Wednesday, losing to his doubles partner and No. 4-seeded Russian Andrey Rubley 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Kozlov, who practiced at the Sony Open in Miami this year with Rafael Nadal, and Rubley are in the semifinals of the doubles against the unseeded French team of Benjamin Bonzi-Quentin Halys. The inimitable Greg Sharko, the ATP’s stat guru, confirmed that Kozlov, the No. 1 seed in doubles, and American Francis Tiafoe as the No. 1 seed in singles made for the first time ever — in the 89 years that the French Open has been open to foreign players — that Americans held the top-seeded spots in both singles and doubles in the junior boys’ competition at Roland Garros.
TENNIS A TICKET TO THE “GUN” SHOW — Tennis is the sport of a lifetime — and living better — confirmed by scientific researchers who now say that elderly people who have played tennis since their junior days have significantly greater bone strength than people who have not. A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England found that “children who play tennis and other sports when young can strengthen their bones by up to 63 percent and reduce the risk of frailty in old age.” Findings include that regular exercise when young has a far greater protective effect on bones than physical activity in adulthood, and that bones in the playing arms of young players were up to 40 percent bigger than the bones in non-racquet arms. That makes for bigger “guns.” That doesn’t mean you’re going to look like Popeye, it means fewer breaks in the adult and elderly years, among other health benefits.
Bradenton’s Sharapova vs. Halep in French Open Final
Florida-based Maria Sharapova will contend for a second career French Open title on Saturday when she faces Grand Slam final first-timer Simona Halep of Romania.
Sharapova in the Thursday semifinals had her hands full against Canadian teen Genie Bouchard, coming from a set down to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“Her level was extremely high and I was fortunate to win because she played tremendous tennis,” Sharapova said of Bouchard. “It was tough losing that first set, but that’s not when the match ends and that’s why you put in the hard work — to get through those moments.”
Halep in her semifinal defeated No. 28 seed Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 7-6(4). The No. 4-seeded Romanian had never before advanced past the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam.
“Andrea was very tough and she is a good player, but I was a little bit stronger in the end and am so happy to get through,” she told the crowd on court after the victory. “I want to thank everyone here today, because you all helped me win.”
The final will be a rematch of the WTA Madrid championship match last month which Sharapova won.
“In the second set [in Madrid] I changed my style and was behind the baseline too much,” Halep said. “I have to be aggressive against Maria. She’s a great player, so I’ll try my best and hopefully it will be a good enough.”
Halep will bring momentum into the final after not dropping a set throughout the tournament. Sharapova achieved a career-first after her semifinal — it was the first time she had won three straight matches, all after losing the first set, in the same tournament.
They Said It
“I think when I’m healthy, like I have been now for the last six to nine months, I think I can also decide the outcome of the matches more than I could last year. I’m very excited about my chances for Wimbledon now this time.”
— Roger Federer, who owns the highest win-loss percentage on grass in the Open Era at .871 and has the most career grasscourt titles with 13 (seven at Wimbledon, six at the ATP event in Halle, Germany)
“A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids. What kids you can think about until age of 27 if you’re playing professional tennis, you know. That’s tough for a woman, I think.”
— ATP player Ernests Gulbis on his opinion that women should not play professional tennis
“I don’t think we can take everything seriously when he speaks. I mean, let’s be honest with that…I think the sport brings so many opportunities to women.”
— Bradenton’s Maria Sharapova on the oft-outspoken Ernests Gulbis’ comment on women playing tennis
Tennis on TV This Weekend
9am-1pm — French Open (live), women’s final, NBC
11pm-12:30am — French Open (delay), men’s doubles final, Tennis Channel
9am-2pm — French Open (live), men’s final, NBC
12-1:30am — French Open (delay), women’s doubles final, Tennis Channel