I’ve been currently adding stats of important matches prepared by myself in a pictorial form. That what is written below, comes from June 2013 when I decided to suspend my previous activity. All majors are already included to the site!
After two and a half years, I’ve decided to suspend updating VdM.com for an undetermined amount of time. I mean weekly updates in which I was summarizing tournaments, besides I won’t be adding posts considering archive majors, however, I will be still adding those majors as sub-pages, and I would like to make all tournaments that left (24) to the end of the year! Generally speaking I’m proud of the work I have done here, all major tournaments of the 80s have been included since March ’12, and most of the 90s. Here are those left to add: *** (5) Australian Open: 1997, 2004-05, 2009-10 (2) Roland Garros: 2009-10 (6) Wimbledon: 1997, 1999, 2000-01, 2009-10 (11) US Open: 1992, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004-2010 *** Some important pages (like Head-to-Head) should be updated after majors. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed to this site in the last 30 months!!
Years 2006-2008 in men’s tennis are characterized as a period of the biggest domination of two players in the entire Open era. Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg had created for many years the only pair of players to compete three consecutive finals in a major; Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer played three consecutive major finals at two different venues (Roland GarrosWimbledon) There was a symmetry involved in that rivalry at the highest level: Nadal won twice in Paris, Federer avenged those defeats in London. The pattern was broken in 2008 though, Nadal devastated Federer in Paris, and it was such a boost of confidence for the Spaniard that he was able to snap Federer’s 65-match winning streak on grass four weeks later in the Wimbledon epic final.
Two Germanic, tall blond-haired serve-and-volley specialists, Swede Stefan Edberg and nearly two years younger German Boris Becker, dominated Wimbledon in the late 80s and early 90s playing against each otherthree finals in a row – something like this had not happened at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 1894 when two local players, Joshua Pim and Wilfred Baddeley met in four consecutive finals. Edberg and Becker almost repeated the feat of the British gentlemen in 1991 – Becker advanced to the final again. Edberg was unexpectedly beaten by Michael Stich in the semifinal! Because it’s supposed to be the first Grand Slam match in history that a loser held all his service games! It’s interesting that Becker overwhelmed Edberg in their pro rivalry 25-10, which is one of the most lopsided Head to Heads of the Open era, but the Swede prevailed in 3 out of their 4 Grand Slam meetings, including two Wimbledon finals!
Three consecutive finals between the same players within one GS event (Open era)*
Wimbledon: 1988: Edberg d. Becker 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 1989: Becker d. Edberg 6-0, 7-6, 6-4 1990: Edberg d. Becker 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4
Roland Garros: 2006: Nadal d. Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 2007: Nadal d. Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 2008: Nadal d. Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
Wimbledon: 2006: Federer d. Nadal 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 2007: Federer d. Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 2008: Nadal d. Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7
* In the pre-Open era only two pairs of players met in three consecutive finals, in fact it was extended to four consecutive editions (Joshua Pim vs. Wilfred Baddeley at Wimbledon 1891-94 and Bill Tilden vs. Bill Johnston at US Open 1922-25)
(3)Rafael Nadal d. (4)David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 [2:16 h]
Fourth all-Spanish final at Roland Garros (previous occurred in 1994, 1998 & 2002). There were some factors which could allow to expect the underdog wasn’t chance-less: Ferrer spent six hours fewer (!) on courts en route to the final, besides the weather was ugly (almost the entire final was played in a drizzle; 16 Celsius) so the favorite couldn’t generate the enormous spin with his forehand. But… Nadal is never tired and he wins on clay so many matches in different conditions that the most important factor at the beginning of the final was simply one: his “head to head” against four years older compatriot (19-4, including eight straight wins, three this year). There are not too many similarly lopsided rivalries in the Open era # Andre Agassi correctly pointed out before the final, they play the same type of tennis, they are like two boxers, but the difference is that one of them combats in heavyweight while the other in lightweight… The first-time major finalist Ferrer wasn’t tense, he started strongly holding the opening game at ‘love’. He led 3:2* in the 1st set when Nadal stepped up winning seven games in a row. There were three longest games of the final in the mid-2nd set (4, 4 & 2 deuces respectively) – Nadal won two out of three, and he was serving for a two sets lead at 5:1 – then a protester with flare jumped down from the stands running towards Rafa (something like this happened for the second time in the last four years in the Parisian final), but was quickly removed by bodyguards. Perhaps that incident distracted the King of Clay a bit because he lost his serve at 15. Afterwards won three games in a row though, dropping just one point in the process. Ferrer, like in the two previous sets, managed to get a break and even had a break point at 3-all, however, he couldn’t convert it sending a forehand long, and Nadal took the last three games finishing the tournament with a blistering inside-out forehand in an equilibristic position. A moment later he fell down on the court covering face with hands to celebrate his two new records: eighth French Open crown (no-one had won so many majors in one city before) ## and 59th win in Paris! “The feeling on court was great. The matches against David are always difficult,” Nadal said. “I think the score is much easier than what the match was today. I think for moments I played great. I think a few moments in the match, I played at very, very high level.” The Mallorcan has now claimed 57 titles, including 12 majors which moves him on the third place in the Open era behind Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14). “To beat Rafael [on a] clay court, I need to play more aggressive,” said Ferrer. “I need to finish the points at the net and play my best tennis to beat him. But when the court is slower, it’s very difficult. He has more power than me with his shots and it’s very difficult to beat him.” After the 7-month sabbatical, Nadal is enjoying the best season of his extraordinary career; he has played in nine finals this year capturing seven titles, and currently is on a 22-match winning streak! He hasn’t actually any points to defend to the end of the season, so if he stays healthy, very likely he will finish the year as the best player in the world for the third time in career (previously in 2008 & 2010). Stats of the final.
(1)B.Bryan/M.Bryan d. M.Llodra/N.Mahut 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4)
# The most lopsided H2H’s in the Open era:
+18 Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick, 21-3 (2001-2012)
+17 Roger Federer vs. Nikolay Davydenko, 19-2 (2002-2013)
+17 Bjorn Borg vs. Vitas Gerulaitis, 17-0 (1974-1981)
+17 Ivan Lendl vs. Tim Mayotte, 17-0 (1980-1990)
+16 Ivan Lendl vs. Brad Gilbert, 16-0 (1982-1991)
+16 Ivan Lendl vs. Scott Davis, 16-0 (1980-1991)
+16 Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer, 20-4 (2004-2013)
## Most major titles in the Open era:
17 – Roger Federer (2003-12; Australian Open – 4, Roland Garros – 1, Wimbledon – 7, US Open – 5) 14 – Pete Sampras (1990-02; Australian Open – 2, Wimbledon – 7, US Open – 5) 12 – Rafael Nadal (2005-13; Australian Open – 1, Roland Garros – 8, Wimbledon – 2, US Open – 1) 11 – Bjorn Borg (1974-81; Roland Garros – 6, Wimbledon – 5)
(4)David Ferrer d. (6)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2 [2:04 h]
Unfortunately Tsonga couldn’t deal with the pressure, there was a lot of talk about 30th anniversary of Yannick Noah‘s triumph at Roland Garros; because there are some resemblances between him and Tsonga, the expectations were high. I saw a Tsonga-Ferrer match in Paris-Bercy last Autumn, so I knew that if Ferrer had won that match easily, he would have been a strong favorite to win again on clay, but Tsonga’s performance must be considered as a disappointment anyway. The antsy Tsonga played the entire match much below his standards, even when he led 3:0* in the 2nd set and later had a set point at 5:4 (Ferrer saved it with a service winner), it was more a consequence of decrease of Ferrer’s reliability than Tsonga’s improvement. Actually Tsonga delivered a good tennis only in the 11th game of the 2nd set when he saved four break points, including one with a stretching backhand volley from no-man’s land. That point could shift the momentum onto his side, but it didn’t happen. The Frenchman was talking to himself all the time, some of his reactions were weird, for example in the tie-break, when he suggested to his box troubles with visibility, but was deprived of eye-drops, and during change of ends used water to wash his eyes! “I’m very, very happy. This tournament is very special for me and to be the first final of Grand Slam in Roland Garros is amazing,” said Ferrer, who had lost his five previous Grand Slam semifinals. “Now I want to enjoy this moment, to rest tomorrow, and to try my best in the final.” Like Alberto Berasategui 19 years ago, he advances to his first Grand Slam final not dropping a set!
(3)Rafael Nadal d. (1)Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 [4:37 h]
Their 35th meeting will be remembered as one of the most exiting ones in their amazing rivalry. For Djokovic it’s been an ultimate task to beat Rafa in Paris, which virtually would have guaranteed him capturing the title, the only Grand Slam title he hasn’t won yet. The Serb started strongly as he counted on repeating in some sense the Monte Carlo ’13 final when he stunned Nadal from the beginning. This time Nadal was much more vigilant, and made a break in the 7th game despite a game point for Djokovic. That game initiated a period of Nadal’s superiority which extended onto the next 30 minutes or so. The Spaniard led 3:2 with a break in the 2nd set when Djokovic decided to give his best, trying at all costs to avoid theoretically insurmountable on clay a two-sets-to-love deficit against Rafa. Djokovic played four consecutive games brilliantly to level the score, however, it cost him a lot of energy and he couldn’t recover physically at the beginning of the 3rd set. He had to save a double set point to avoid the first bagel in their rivalry! In the 4th set Djokovic came back to his disposition from the early stages of the match, he was dictating the points with well-placed backhands in all directions mixed up with perpendicular backhand dropshots, but it was Nadal who led with a break of serve 4:3 and 6:5. In the 12th game, after two forehand winners he led 30/15 being two points away from another final, but stumbled a bit and lost his confidence – Djokovic not only forced a tie-break, but he jumped to a 4:1 lead and won it in convincing style. A great backhand return gave him an early break. Leading 3:1, Djokovic tried as hard as could to get the second break, but the Spaniard responded with fantastic shots to take the game after a couple of deuces. The 8th game was the key to this match: Djokovic saved a break point and was in a position to finish a point with an overhead, and then a disaster came – he touched the net with his body after a bounce far away from Nadal’s range. Djokovic argued but obviously Pascal Maria had to award Nadal with a point – rules are clear – before the second bounce a player can’t touch the net! After that point the Serbian was not the same, above all he lost ability to get a point directly with an overhead. Trailing *6:7 (40/15) he netted an overhead like a beginner, and missed another one opening the 16th game. It was too much for him to handle, in the following point his shaky shot was punished by Nadal’s FH, and two forehand errors off Nadal’s returns finished an epic encounter in rather poor style. “You need to love the game,” explained Nadal. “You [need to] appreciate what you are doing in every moment. I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering, and these kind of matches are very special. You don’t have the chance to play these kind of matches every day. So when these kind of matches happen you suffer, but I really enjoy these moments.” Djokovic, who lost his first five-setter in nine matches when 5th set reached 5-all, stated: “It’s been an unbelievable match to be part of, but all I can feel now is disappointment. I congratulate my opponent, because he showed the courage in the right moments and went for his shots. When he was break down in the fifth, he made some incredible shots from the baseline. I congratulate him, because that’s why he’s a champion. That’s why he’s been ruling Roland Garros for many years, and for me it’s another year.” It was their 10th meeting at majors (fifth in Paris) # They are just one match away from equaling a record of Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, who met 36 times. Stats of the match
# Biggest H2H’s at majors:
11 – Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic (6-5) 10 – Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (8-2) 10 – Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (7-3) 10 – Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (7-3)
# 5-set barometer: 16-5 Rafael Nadal, 18-7 Novak Djokovic
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (12)Tommy Haas 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-5 [2:13 h]
In a very similar style (7-5 6-1 7-6 in 2 hours 14 minutes) Djokovic defeated Haas at Roland Garros seven year ago – it was rather surprising back then, now the Serb was a clear favorite despite a bitter loss to Haas a couple of months ago in Miami… In the first two sets Haas couldn’t get a break point, yet he was two points away from taking the 2nd set at 5-all in the tie-break – then occurred one of the best rallies of the match, which Djokovic won with a succulent cross-court backhand. In the last set Haas broke back twice, the second time surviving a match point at 3:5 on serve, but wasted a game point in the 11th game and Djokovic converted the second match point with a backhand down the line – he’d failed the same type of a shot on the first occasion. It’s the first time in the Open era that all quarterfinals were concluded in Paris after straight setters (in 2011 three matches ended 3-0, Djokovic got a walkover from Fognini). In the entire French Open history it happened just once before, in 1948 and a retirement was involved in one of those quarterfinals. “Now I have a big challenge in front of me, and I’m ready for it,” said Djokovic. “I have been playing well. I know that this is the biggest challenge for me in Roland Garros, no question about it, and I’m sure that it’s going to be quite a good match.”
(3)Rafael Nadal d. (9)Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 [1:56 h]
The Swiss entered this match on Philippe Chatrier having a 0-9 record against Nadal, not winning even a single set, with a recent one-sided loss in the Madrid final. With such a poor stats it had been tough to expect the main favorite would have had any problems in advancing to the semifinals, but Wawrinka’s performance is concerning anyway. He had lost his serve two times in a 4-hour battle against Gasquet, Nadal broke him twice already in the opening 25 minutes and the final outcome was never questioned since then. Wawrinka showed his inefficacy & frustration in the 7th game of the 1st set when netted a backhand from a good position in the end of spectacular rally, and devastated his racquet right afterwards. “I’m disappointed because I couldn’t find solutions. I couldn’t make the right choices at the right moments. I couldn’t execute,” reflected Wawrinka. “Apart from this, Nadal is a complicated player. You have to play an incredible game. And when you play really well, he shouldn’t be playing his best level. If you are at my ranking and at my level, given the conditions, it’s very difficult.”
(6)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. (2)Roger Federer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 [1:51 h]
It’s 22nd Open era pair of players to have faced each other at all four majors. Federer had beaten Tsonga severely at Australian Open ’10 & US Open ’11, this time it was a time of a sweet revenge. The initial phase of this match didn’t suggest that Tsonga would finish the contest as a comfortable straight sets winner. He was *2:4 down in the 1st set. In the 8th game Federer led 40/15 on serve, but lost four straigh points. In the 12th game Tsonga had a triple set point, Federer won three points in a row, the second one with a beautiful backhand passing-shot, but made two casual errors afterwards, and the Frenchman took the momentum. Tsonga’s ground-strokes were functioning very well, and he grabbed another two sets without any troubles. He is through to the French Open semifinals for the first time in career, and he makes it not dropping a set (!) – he’s lost his serve four times (twice against Federer). “I thought he played great today,” said Federer. “He was, in all areas, better than me today. That’s why the result was pretty clean. I was impressed by the way he played today. I think I struggled a little bit everywhere. To be honest, personally, I’m pretty sad about the match and the way I played.” Tsonga becomes the 10th Open era Frenchman to reach semifinals at Roland Garros, only Yannick Noah managed to lift the trophy 30 years ago.
(4)David Ferrer d. (32)Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 [1:25 h]
After historic, three consecutive comebacks from two sets down (two that lasted almost four hours), Robredo ran out of gas on Suzanne Lenglen court. Obviously he would have had amazingly tough task against anyone, but his tiredness must have been visible especially against a rock-solid Ferrer, who in contrary to his peer and compatriot, spent the fewest amount of time prior to the quarterfinals among eight players. “I wasn’t 100 per cent ready to fight in the match,” said Robredo. “Playing a guy like David, who is a machine, it’s very tough. So there was no match today. I’m not sad about losing today. I just wish [that] I had managed to fight a bit more. It was very difficult, if not impossible.” Robredo becomes the first Open era player to lose major quarterfinals six times not having reached a semifinal. Guy Forget is second in this stats, with five quarterfinal defeats, nine players couldn’t break through to the semifinals in four quarterfinal attempts. “I think it’s quite normal [that] the crowd is going to be supporting Jo,” said Ferrer about his semifinal match. “He’s French and I am very happy he’s made it that far. I’ll do everything I can to make it to the final. I have to remain focused.“
There are records that seem untouchable, one of them belonged through 86 years to Henri Cochet, who triumphed at Wimbledon 1927 coming back from two sets down in three consecutive matches, however, nothing lasts forever. In the Open era several players managed to win two matches in a row trailing 0-2 in sets, but no-one did it three times until Sunday, when Tommy Robredo produced arguably the most astonishing comeback in his career #. He had lost all five meetings against Nicolas Almagro prior to their fourth round match, and after losing first two sets, he won another three being a break down in every one of them: *1:4, 2:4* & 0:2* respectively. He was also 3:4 down in the decider, but repeated the feat of two previous sets winning all games since the opponent had won four in a set. Robredo during the match was supported by the Parisian crowd like never before outside Spain, the crowd was chanting “Tommy! Tommy!”, and it brought Robredo to tears in the end. “I played a player who is incredible on clay,” said Robredo about his 3-hour, 49-minute victory. “I’m not thinking about history. History is this match I played today. It’s not the score that counts. Nothing more than that.” Besides Robredo, all other quarter-finalists were expected at this stage of the tournament. David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have advanced to the last eight not even dropping a set. No-one even played a tie-break against Ferrer, yet Marinko Matosevic led *3:0 against him in a 2nd set of their first round encounter before losing all games to the end of set, Tsonga in turn, was forced to fight off a set point against Jarkko Nieminen. It seemed Roger Federer would enter the quarterfinals with four straight set victories too, when he won easily 1st set against Gilles Simon and led 3:2* (30/0) in the 2nd. Since then, Simon turned the things around, but Federer subdued him from 2-all in the 4th set collecting seven games in a row. Simon saved a couple of break points to end that streak and gave the hope to his numerous supporters gathered on Philippe Chartier stadium for a magnificent comeback. Federer serving to win the match was able to play all the most important points hitting all 1st serves in, and saved two break points to notch a 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-2 6-3 victory just under three hours. 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer won a record-tying 58th match at Roland Garros (Nicola Pietrangeli, Guillermo Vilas). The Swiss has now won 900 main-level matches, this milestone accomplished only three players before. Rafael Nadal revealed that elbow-pain was the reason of his uncertain form in the first three matches. The 7-time champion celebrated his 27th birthday with no pain and quick destruction of Kei Nishikori (6-4 6-1 6-3). It’s just one match away from his anticipated semifinal against Novak Djokovic, who dropped his 1st set of the tournament against Philipp Kohlschreiber, to whom lost their only previous encounter in Paris, four years ago. Kohlschreiber won then three sets ’6-4′, and repeated the same scoreline in the opening set. Djokovic snapped that streak thanks to very important two games in the mid-2nd set when he broke the German, then held his serve and it lasted 18 minutes (8, 10) – Kohlschreiber wasn’t the same afterwards. “We were very close throughout my whole life and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today. I have the nicest memories of her. She was 77 years old, and before she passed away two days ago, last week she was giving lessons to kids.” said Djokovic about his first coach, Jelena Gencic, who died on Saturday. Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet played perhaps the match of the event on Suzanne Lenglen. The Swiss came back for the sixth time in career from two sets down while Gasquet suffered his fifth defeat despite winning the first two sets. The highlight came in the 8th game of the 4th set when both guys exchanged nine consecutive points concluded with spectacular winners (5-4 edged Wawrinka). After that Gasquet delivered a service winner to save fifth break point and had mini-match points in two following Wawrinka’s service games. When Gasquet started limping at the end of the 4th set, I expected the decider would be quick, but he somehow regrouped and had another mini-match points at 5-all in the deciding set, it was a double break point – Wawrinka escaped with brave attitude and converted his only break point of the set in the last game. “I played the best level I ever played at,” said Wawrinka, who was broken only twice in the match (at the beginning of the 2nd set when trailed 0:4). Gasquet, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2007, can’t even reach a major quarterfinal since then, the loss to Wawrinka is his 11th fourth round defeat in the meantime – he’s been ousted in the last 16 of the last six Grand Slam events! Tommy Haas with an unexpected ease dismissed Mikhail Youzhny, to whom lost in straight sets recently in Rome. The 35-year-old Haas has now advanced to quarterfinals at all majors, he is the first German in the quarterfinals in Paris since 1996, and sixth German overall of the Open era in the last eight of the French Open.
Longest match: 4 hours, 16 minutes. Stanislas Wawrinka d. Richard Gasquet 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 Most aces: 13 – Wawrinka against Gasquet
5-set barometer: 22-17 Roger Federer, 20-14 Stanislas Wawrinka, 13-4 Tommy Robredo, 13-11 Nicolas Almagro, 12-7 Gilles Simon, 5-12 Richard Gasquet
# Comebacks from a two-sets-to-love deficit in three straight matches:
*** Henri Cochet – Wimbledon 1927
Q – Frank Hunter 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
S – Bill Tilden 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3
W – Jean Borotra 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 – 6 m.p.
*** Tommy Robredo – Roland Garros 2013
2 – Igor Sijsling 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1
3 – Gael Monfils 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 – 4 m.p.
4 – Nicolas Almagro 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Just like during last year’s Wimbledon, five 30+ year-olds reached the last 16 of a major tournament (Haas, Youzhny, Robredo, Ferrer & Federer). The oldest among them, Tommy Haas survived one of the most amazing matches in the Grand Slam history. The German wasted 12 match points (Open era record!) in the 4th set against John Isner on Court No. 1, then trailed *0:3 (30-all) in the deciding set, and saved a match point at 4:5 (30/40) with a quite long rally during which he hit one of his shots uncleanly close to the sideline. Isner fought off nine match points serving at 5:6, including 15/40, and another three match points in the tie-break (6:7, 7:8*, 8:9). Haas committed a double fault having the only match point on serve, Isner delivered 5 aces saving other match points! “It’s obviously a great match to be a part of, especially at such a big event against somebody that is very used to those kinds of matches,” said Haas. “Unfortunately one has to lose, and I think it would have been more upsetting for me in this case, after having many chances in the fourth set there.” The German joins Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker & Greg Rusedski as the fourth Open era player to survive six five-setters facing a match point, he also becomes the first 35 year-old player to reach the fourth round of a major since Jonas Bjorkman advanced to the fourth round of the French Open 2007. Rafael Nadal, after two first rounds in which had lost opening sets, was close to repeat it when Fabio Fognini was serving at 6:5. The Italian couldn’t consolidate the break and lost the match 6-7(5) 4-6 4-6. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the third time won their matches in straight sets, Djokovic avenged a Madrid loss to Grigor Dimitrov outplaying the Bulgarian 6-2 6-2 6-3. The Serbian became the 40th player in Open era history to win 500 main-level matches. Federer dismissed Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4 7-5 – in very similar fashion like five years before in the fourth round. Gael Monfils, despite his two entertaining matches on Philippe Chatrier, was subsided to Suzanne Lenglen and perhaps it didn’t help him. The Frenchman, playing his 13th match in 18 days, wasted four match points, two consecutive on serve leading 5:4 in the 4th set, and lost to Tommy Robredo 6-2 7-6(5) 2-6 6-7(3) 2-6 in 3 hours 46 minutes. “Maybe today he was physically fitter than me,” Monfils said, “Already during the match I started feeling some problems. I tried to hide it, but there comes a stage when whatever you do to hide your physical problems you can no longer hide them, and he became stronger and stronger. It is frustrating, because I don’t like to lose matches for physical or fitness [reasons]. But today I have to admit he was stronger.” Robredo’s second straight five-set win coming back from two sets down (in the second round he won easily three sets after dropping the first two to Igor Sijsling).
Longest match: 4 hours, 37 minutes. Tommy Haas d. John Isner 7-5, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-7(10), 10-8 Most aces: 27 – Isner against Haas
5-set barometer: 21-20 Tommy Haas, 12-4 Tommy Robredo, 12-6 Gilles Simon, 11-6 Geal Monfils, 5-12 John Isner, 2-6 Sam Querrey
Gael Monfils has taken part in two best matches at this year’s Roland Garros (both on Philippe Chatrier). After surviving a 5-set thriller against Tomas Berdych, the former semifinalist defeated Ernests Gulbis in an entertaining 4-set duel. Monfils came from a break down in sets 2 & 3 to build a 5:2* lead in the 3rd set. The level of tennis from that moment to the end of the set was extremely pleasant to watch because both players raised the level of their game-styles to their best. Gulbis saved five set points on return in the 9th game (including a triple SP) and had four chances to break his opponent in the 11th game – the last break point was saved by Monfils with a very lucky net-cord. The local pupil converted his seventh set point with a stop-volley and Gulbis couldn’t recover after that, losing the 4th set unfortunately not putting too much energy onto the court. Sergiey Stakhovsky used his smart-phone to take a picture of a questionable call during his first round loss, Monfils went a bit further with the technology and asked the chair umpire for permission to record the atmosphere on his phone. “I asked, ‘[Am] I allowed to tape the wave?’ He tell me, ‘Sure, you can.’ So I said, ‘Okay, I will tape it, like quick. No worries.’ (Laughter.),” explained Monfils, the 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2 winner. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic outplayed their opponents without any troubles, Somdev Devvarman and Guido Pella respectively. “He doesn’t need to change his game. It worked back then, so it’s up to me now to change something and to see what didn’t work during that match and to see how I can change it,” stated Federer about his next match against Julien Benneteau to whom lost twice indoors and barely survived a Wimbledon encounter last year. Benneteau, strongly supported by the partisan crowd, ended in tears his second round match against Tobias Kamke, 7-6(9) 7-5 5-7 0-6 6-4. The Frenchman saved two set points in the tie-break and rallied from a 0:2* (15/30) deficit in the deciding set. Kamke played two five-setters in Paris, and both had a twisted progress – he lost 11 straight games in the first round, but won the match; against Benneteau experienced the reverse – won 10 straight games, but finished as a loser. Victor Hanescu  moved into the third round as a grantee of two retirements. I’ve made some research to find only eight earlier cases in the Open era that a player got two wins via retirements within one major (it happened once at Australian Open - Arnaud Clement in 2000, once at Wimbledon – Clark Graebner in 1969, once at Roland Garros – Alberto Berasategui in 1994, and five times at US Open: Raymond Moore, Jiri Novak, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling and Tommy Robredo). Janko Tipsarevic for the third time in career lost a match point up set to Fernando Verdasco, but second time managed to win under these circumstances, 7-6(3) 6-1 3-6 5-7 8-6 in 4 hours 33 minutes. Rafael Nadal again unexpectedly lost his opening set, this time to fellow left-hander Martin Klizan (4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3). “I started the match probably with not the right intensity, with more doubts than usual,” admitted Nadal. “The positive thing was that I had a good reaction at the beginning of the second, even if I didn’t play fantastic. I played the way that I had to play, with intensity, with passion, playing more inside.”
Longest match: 4 hours, 33 minutes. Janko Tipsarevic d. Fernando Verdasco 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 8-6 Most aces: 24 - Milos Raonic, defeated Michael Llodra in four sets
5-set barometer: 18-8 Janko Tipsarevic, 16-13 Fernando Verdasco, 15-11 Andreas Seppi, 11-4 Tommy Robredo, 11-10 Viktor Troicki, 8-6 Julien Benneteau, 5-11 John Isner, 3-3 Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 2-2 Blaz Kavcic, 2-3 Tobias Kamke, 1-2 Igor Sijsling, 0-3 Ryan Harrison
Because of bad weather on Tuesday (heavy rain delayed the start of play until 1:45 p.m. local time) three matches were suspended, Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Mahut didn’t enter the court at all. In one of those suspended matches a recent semifinalist in Rome, Benoit Paire outlasted Marcos Baghdatis 3-6 7-6(1) 6-4 6-4 coming back from a break down in the 2nd set. The Frenchman survived a titanic 6th game of the 3rd set (11 deuces, 15 minutes) saving six break points in the process, and got the crucial break in the following game just before the suspension. Baghdatis has lost eight consecutive tournament matches! In other two-day battle Lukasz Kubot saved two set points in a 3rd set tie-break to defeat qualifier Maxime Teixeira 6-4 5-7 7-6(7) 6-2 – it’s the first time in history that three Polish players have advanced to the second round of a major. I had an impression that Novak Djokovic in his opening match against David Goffin wanted to save as much energy as possible thinking already about a very probable clash with Nadal in the semifinals. The Serb won 7-6(5) 6-4 7-5 taking advantage of Goffin’s errors in latter stages of all sets. “He did really well at the start, and throughout all the match he was playing really nice tennis from baseline,” said the World No. 1 “It was a tough match. I needed to fight all the way through every set, and I served well when I needed to and played my best tennis when it was most important.” In the second round, Djokovic will face Guido Pella, who notched first GS win overcoming Ivan Dodig 4-6 6-4 6-3 2-6 12-10 in 3 hours, 24 minutes. Four players retired, Bernard Tomic for the second time this year facing Victor Hanescu (previously in Dubai).
Longest match: 4 hours, 34 minutes. Horacio Zeballos d. Vasek Pospisil 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-7(4), 2-6, 8-6 Most aces: 23 – Pospisil, lost to Zeballos
The second Grand Slam of the year is deprived of two major champions and last years quarter-finalists: Andy Murray (back problems) and Juan Martin del Potro (virus). The lack of Murray is exceptionally interesting for the progress of the tournament because the Scot reached at least quarterfinal in his last nine major appearances (eight times semifinal or better). The last year finalists, Ragfael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in the same section of the draw which means that if Roger Federer doesn’t advance to the final, at least one finalist will be considered as unexpected.
15 matches on Day 1 (Sunday), 29 on the following day. Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils looked like the most intriguing first round match-up on paper, and indeed it was a very interesting match between a very solid current Top 10′er and a player who was in the Top 10 two years ago, but recently returns to the Top 100. The Frenchman needed five set points to take the opening set. A break in the 3rd game of the 2nd set gave him a two-sets-to-love lead, but Berdych comes back from the brink more often than anyone else in 2013. The Czech survived another two sets in tie-breaks being two points away from loss in set No. 4. Losing two tie-break sets and winning a match is extremely tough task #, but this match depended on serve above all, Monfils was broken just once in four sets and it gave him a solid base to believe in victory despite unfortunate circumstances. The crucial game of the match came in the 6th game of the final set when Monfils fought off a triple break point. He broke in the 11th game and served the match convincingly at ’15′. “It’s a unique moment because I have not won such matches for a long time, and I have not performed, if I can say, mentally, physically,” said Monfils. “It’s one of the best ones I have played here. I believed I would win during the whole match. I have gone through very difficult moments, so you get tougher.” There were other dramatic five-setters: Gilles Simon in front of his mother almost suffered the worst defeat of his career – he blew a 5:0* lead in the 5th set against a 5-set specialist Lleyton Hewitt, but took easily two games from 5-all (winning eight points in a row) to win 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5. Simon next meets Pablo Cuevas , who didn’t play two years because of right knee injury. The 27-year-old Uruguayan saved two match points on return in the 5th set against Adrian Mannarino. Juan Monaco had a mini-match point in the 3rd set against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, and led *4:1 in a tie-break shortly afterwards, only to lose for the fourth time in career despite a 2-0 advantage in sets (third time against a Spaniard), 6-4 6-4 6-7(4) 4-6 4-6. From 3-all in the 3rd set, Paulo Lorenzi won 11 consecutive games against Tobias Kamke, but when the German snapped the streak at *0:2 in the 5th set, he was in command to the end of his 6-3 6-3 3-6 0-6 6-3 victory. Other German, Daniel Brands after winning the 1st set, jumped to a 3:0 in a tie-break of the 2nd set against 7-time champion Rafael Nadal. Brands  was in trance at the moment, and attacked Nadal’s second serve with his powerful forehand; if the ball was good he would probably take stunningly 2nd set, however, he missed just 10-15 cm, and Nadal took the control of the match winning the tie-break 7/4 and breaking Brands three times after that (he couldn’t do it in first two sets even once)t: 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-3. “He was playing unbelievable,” said Nadal. “I just tried to find my game and tried to resist his fantastic shots. He played a fantastic match and put me in a very difficult situation. I’m very happy to be through.” 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios  received a wild card to his first main-level tournament and notched a valuable win overcoming veteran Radek Stepanek in three tie-breaks ##. In the 2nd tie-break Kyrgios saved six set points (!): 1:6 & 7:8, in the third one three more (6:7, 8:9, 10:11). “My goal today was just to go out there and enjoy every moment and give my best effort from the first point to the last. If I won today it was a bonus,” said Kyrgios. Robin Haase has ended his infamous streak of 17 tie-breaks lost in a row. The Dutchman, who couldn’t win a tie-break at the main-level since February 1, 2012, ousted a tall Frenchman, Kenny de Schepper 6-4 7-6(3) 2-6 6-3. It doesn’t happen often that two players face each other twice within one week: Michal Przysiezny defeated Rhyne Williams in his last qualifying match, Williams got into the main draw as a “lucky loser” and lost to the Pole again, this time taking a set off him. Przysiezny is one of three Poles participating in this year’s French Open; as many Poles as during the French Open ’13 were just once in a major, also in Paris (1970) – Wieslaw Gasiorek, Mieczyslaw Rybarczyk & Tadeusz Nowicki.
# French Open matches in which the winner lost sets No. 3 & 4 in tie-breaks:
1977: Rolf Norberg d. Pavel Slozil 6-2, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5 1977: Brian Fairlie d. Yannick Noah 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2 1986: Yannick Noah d. Tarik Benhabiles 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(8), 6-4 1990: Paul Haarhuis d. Jim Pugh 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-7(6), 7-5 1992: Chris Pridham d. Stephane Simian 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 6-3 1994: Henrik Holm d. Stefan Edberg 7-5, 7-6(1), 6-7(2), 6-7(8), 6-4 2013: Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5
## All-tie-break 3-setters at the French Open:
1998: Marzio Martelli d. Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(3), 7-6(6), 7-6(2) 2006: Ivo Karlovic d. Olivier Patience 7-6(6), 7-6(1), 7-6(10) 2008: Albert Montanes d. Kristof Vliegen 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3) 2008: Wayne Odesnik d. Guillermo Canas 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 7-6(8) 2009: Victor Hanescu d. Steve Darcis 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 7-6(3) 2013: Nick Kyrgios d. Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(11)
Longest match: 4 hours, 3 minutes. Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5 Most aces: 26 – Monfils, defeated Berdych
5-set barometer: 31-19 Lleyton Hewitt, 17-8 Feliciano Lopez, 17-9 Jarkko Nieminen, 16-8 Tomas Berdych, 14-11 Andreas Seppi, 11-5 Gael Monfils, 11-6 Gilles Simon, 9-11 Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-2 Albert Montanes, 6-3 Marcel Granollers, 4-9 Juan Monaco, 3-2 Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 3-3 Pablo Cuevas, 2-1 Adrian Mannarino, 2-2 Tobias Kamke, 0-3 Leonardo Mayer, Steve Johnson & Paolo Lorenzi