Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The French, Open? An odd string of frog discussion leading to, as you mentioned, the annual ATP stop at irrelevancy. What is it about Roland Garros? It should be my favorite major, since it favors speed and finesse over power, which I think is a recipe for good tennis. Perhaps it's because the big names in the modern era are hard-court specialists. Sampras never won, as you said, and I think never made an honest effort to do so. For all his skill, he wrote off the French rather early. Wouldn't you, in his place, give up one or two of your titles to spend a few months becoming a great clay-courter, just to add it to your achievements? You rightly mention the Williamses. They brought the power game to ladies' tennis in a new way, but they are both only above-average players. They shot placement is spotty, their strategy is thin, and they rack up unforced errors. (How would Justine or the Swiss Miss ever win otherwise?) But they win their serves and they get break points on power. It's impressive, but it's not fun to watch. I don't think I'm simply being nostalgic to believe the small wooden racquet days were the great days. Aces, unreturnables, and light-speed passing shots don't allow for any game. It's like watching archery now.

At any rate, Roland Garros will continue to be a place for the European clay-courters to triumph, and for the American hard-courters to skip in favor of Wimbledon practice, which makes it feel like a second-rate sponsor stop, rather than a slam event.

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