The first seven days of the French Open have not really seen much difference from the normal course. The top seeds (with the exception of Serena Williams' first round loss) have won their matches well enough. The schedule of Day 8 however had some mouth watering clashes and promised to be critical in the build up of the second week.
Four of the men's singles and one of women's singles have been worth a watch for me:
1. Victoria Azarenka (Bel) vs. Dominika Cibulkova (Slo): It was anticipated to be exciting as Cibulkova has proved herself to be a tough opponent against the world no 1. Their clash in Miami has seen a great comeback from Vika, but also highlighted Cibulkova's inability to close the high profile match and register a win against the top player. Cibulkova lead 5-2 in the second set after winning the first in Miami but ended up losing the match. Today was a different day, different surface but the pressure maybe even more than Miami. This was a Grandslam. Cibulkova took the first set quite comfortably 6-2 against an out of sorts Vika. The second set saw both the players trading breaks and moving into the tiebreak. But this time Cibulkova held her nerve to see through the current no 1. Had the match went on to the final set, the odds would not have remained in her favor. It was for sure the greatest upset of the day.
2. Novak Djokovic vs. Andreas Seppi: Not many people expected it to be what it turned out. It was expected a easy roll for Djokovic. Even after the first set, it seemed a 4 set win for the Djoker. Seppi's clinching the second set tiebreaker however would have raised many brows and fans catching up to see the outcome. That, thus, is a major difference between a best of three set match and a best of five set match. A best of five gives more opportunity for the better player to come out on the top - testing the class, ability to handle the pressure, stamina, fitness and above all the hunger to move on. As it turned out, the value of this tournament and the stakes are much higher for Djokovic and he showed he is in it heart and soul. A great effort by Seppi, no doubt, but not enough.
3. Roger Federer vs. David Goffin: By no standards, this match up needs a mention here. Still, David Goffin earned it. Despite having only 7 tour matches to his experience, despite having Roger Federer as his absolute idol and tennis God; he traded blows with arguably the Greatest Player with ease, professionalism and sense of purpose on the Suzzane Lenglen court. With nobody expecting anything, he not only won the first set but a few fans of his own - which included Roger Federer. Kudos to Goffin, hope we'll see much more of this young talent.
4. Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Jo Wilfred Tsonga: As expected, it's not over yet and we're getting into a fifth. First two to Tsonga, next two to Stan - this may go either ways. With the French crowd behind him, Tsonga is expected to up his ante to go through the next round. Hunger & Wawrinka's fitness (having played a five setter in last round) will determine this.
5. Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Tomas Berdych: The best match up for the day for me that cannot be seen because Tsonga and Wawrinka are going on at the same time. Delpotro edging the first set in tiebreak, Berdych coming back to a comfortable second set win, Delpotro again breaking first and going ahead in the third - this match is living up to the anticipation and must go to five. I say, Berdych is playing the more consistent of the two but Delpo sure has the class and power to outclass him. Delpo in five.
Happy Tennis viewing...!!!