Well, what can I say about French Open predictions except they sucked ass? Ana Ivanovic crashed out to Viktoria Azarenka (yup, Azarenka’s the real deal; look for her in the Top 5 soon), and as for Rafael Nadal, well, we all know what happened there.
Still, I can take solace in the fact that it’s been a great roller-coaster of a tournament, with great matches galore in both the men’s and (finally) women’s draws. After all the drama, we’re now down to the final four men and the last two women left standing. So let me take another crack at the whole predicting thing to salvage what little remains of my tennis credibility.
WOMEN’S FINAL: Dinara Safina vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Safina’s really impressed me; it’s mind-boggling how much she’s improved in the last 18 months or so (I still remember watching Kim Clijsters trample a not-in-shape Safina at the WTA tournament in Carson a few years back, and now Safina’s a completely different player). She moves better, she fights harder, and she’s added a lot more power to her forehand, which used to fall short a lot of times.
As for Kuznetsova, she’s fought so well during the tournament (especially against Serena), but in her semi against Stosur, she was having ankle problems, which doesn’t bode well for her. Also, her loopy strokes are consistent and heavy, but they lack pace, which means she finds herself on the defensive too much of the time (Stosur was dictating play with her huge forehand for long stretches in the semi). I think, Safina’s flat shots are simply going to overpower Kuznetsova, unless Safina has a major choke-a-thon. I pick Safina in two (6-4,6-4?). It’d be great to see Safina remove the Number-One-but-never-won-a-Slam asterisk next to her name for once and for all.
There are four men remaining: Federer, Del Potro, Gonzalez, and Soderling. But we all know that it’s all about Federer. We talked about Safina removing an asterisk; well, Federer has the chance to remove an asteroid-sized asterisk (“But he’s never won the French!”), tie Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Slam wins, and prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he’s the greatest player to ever pick up a tennis racket. Nadal’s gone. The other three semifinalists are all solid players, but they’re all mere mortals playing alongside the tennis God that is Roger. We’re talking about sheer destiny, and Federer’s playing well enough to make it happen and then some. His movement and footwork are back, he’s found a major new weapon with the drop shot, and he’s using angles as well as ever. It’s gotta happen, and it will be historic. All hail Roger, the greatest ever.
Here’s Roger’s magic on display against Gail Monfils in the quarterfinals: