When is a shock not a shock?

Al Jazeera’s Chris Tortise on why the ‘upsets’ at the French Open have been no surprise.

Soderling was a worthy winner against the world number one [AFP]

The quarter-finals of the 2010 French Open have resulted in upsets in both the men’s and the women’s draws.

The top seeds in each, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, were beaten, and somewhat stunned.

Williams was expected to win this tournament, and Federer to at least reach the final for another battle royale with Rafael Nadal.

But are the results a shock?

Both players were beaten by a highly-ranked opponent, and yet you don’t expect anyone to get a result against two of the best players we’ve ever seen.

Sam Stosur, the Australian who burst onto the world scene 12 months ago with a semi-final appearance here, played superbly in beating Williams.

True, the American didn’t bring her ‘A’ game to the court, but give credit where it’s due.

The seventh seed played her game, and didn’t let Williams dictate until Stosur served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

Stosur has been a revelation in the last year, and deservedly sits in the top 10 in the world.

Love the clay

And she seems to love the clay of Roland Garros, whereas Serena does struggle. Shock? No.

She plays Jankovic in the semi-finals, a match which I simply can’t call.

“When the pressure is on, a chance to beat Nadal at Roland Garros looming, Federer just can’t quite cut it”

Chris Tortise

The other semi sees top-10 stalwart Elena Dementieva going for a third Grand Slam final against Italy’s Francesca Schiavone.

Italy should have produced more major semi-finalists with the quality of their players, but Schiavone is the first in 56 years. Will she go a step further?

Either way, results have meant that women’s tennis will have a new Grand Slam champion for the first time since Ana Ivanovic won here in 2008.

I hope the winner doesn’t go the same way as the diminished Serb.

Now Federer.

People don’t bat an eyelid when the Swiss star loses to Nadal. Or Djokovic. Or even Murray!

Yet for him to lose to Robin Soderling, last years losing finalist, something must be wrong, yes?


The Swede proved himself last year in beating Nadal and not being disgraced in the final in his loss to Federer.

And he played the better tennis. There’s no point in denying it.

It has been said that Federer is now the greatest player of all time, following his 2009 career Grand Slam triumph in Paris.

But that was without having to play Nadal.

Under pressure

When the pressure is on, a chance to beat Nadal at Roland Garros looming, Federer just can’t quite cut it.

Ivanovic has been in a downward spiral since winning in 2008 [GALLO/GETTY]

Would he have beaten Nadal in the final? No, I don’t think he would have.

Yet hats off to the world number one – for unless Nadal wins the title, he will stay there.

Federer’s record of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals is quite extraordinary and will probably never be matched.

It had to end somewhere, and Soderling was the man to do it. Shock? More like an inevitability.

There were, however, two shocks in the men’s draw.

Novak Djokovic should have beaten Jurgen Melzer, the 22nd seed.

Two sets to love up, and a break up, he loses in five. Ouch.

This is new territory for the Austrian, as the class of Nadal will be in the semis. I will eat my computer if he pulls off another shock.

Then there’s the surprise package of Tomas Berdych.

After thumping Murray in the fourth round – the ease of which was shocking – he pulverised Mikhail Youzhny in the quarters.

The 15th seed will prove a more-than-equal match to Soderling, and could spring further surprises to reach the final.

So when is a shock not a shock? When it’s at Roland Garros.

Source: Al Jazeera


Swede beats defending champion in quarter-final rematch of 2009 French Open final.

1 Jun 2010
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