Michael Emmett: “French Open Intrigue”

Written by: Michael Emmett

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***Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations at all Mayfair clubs.  He is a certified Tennis Canada Coach 3 with a Journalism degree from the University of Texas. Michael spent several years working in sports television at TSN and Sportsnet.  Michael is a former National champion who finished his last year of junior tennis ranked #1 in Canada.  Michael has coached several National champions when he worked for the All-Canadian Academy at the National Tennis Centre at York University in the early 90s.  Michael spent 2 years traveling the world playing the ATP tour satellite circuit as a member of the Molson National Team in 1985 and ’86.***
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As we get nearer the finish line in Paris, tennis fans world-wide must be licking their chops with all the juicy storylines about to be played out.

As these matches are contested on the red clay courts at Roland Garros, whatever happens in the next 5 days could turn out to be the biggest events of the tennis year.

What would be the bigger story?

1. Djokovic wins his 4th straight Grand Slam.

2. Nadal wins his 7th French Open.

3. Federer win Grand Slam #17.

4. Sharapova wins the career Grand Slam.

No matter what happens on the men’s side of things, one of these huge events is likely to happen.

And in my opinion, the Djokovic story is the biggest. No man has won four in a row since Rod Laver did it in 1969.

Let’s suppose for a minute that Djoker is able to accomplish the most unlikely feat. That would mean his last grand slam loss was over a year ago to Roger Federer in the semi-final of the French Open. In this day and age, with the likes of Federer and Nadal nipping at his heels, this achievement is almost beyond comprehension.

Let’s face it, after losing in Monte Carlo and Rome to the clay-court Maestro, Djoker is a long shot at best to add the French Open to his already crowded trophy case. But the tennis world is not doing the Serbian justice – how can a guy, who has been so dominant, fly under the radar, when he’s on the verge of something so historic? Four in a row on four different surfaces against the toughest competition the game has ever seen would be monumental!

After watching the first week of this event, the most likely scenario is that Nadal captures his record breaking 7th title on the dirt in Paris. Nadal looks unbeatable! Winning a set against this guy looks like a giant task – how is anybody going to win three sets? Currently, he is tied with Hall of Famer Bjorn Borg with 6 French Open titles. In my mind, it just a matter of days before we anoint Nadal as the greatest clay court player of all time. And this time it won’t be conjecture – the numbers will back him up. When Nadal can smell the finish line, it usually means lights out for the rest of the field.

And what about Federer?

Can the man, who is getting long in the tooth, find the resolve to capture one more title? Federer did win in Madrid a few weeks ago with guys like Nadal and Djokovic in the draw. But can he do it in a best-of-five environment, when the stakes are that much higher? I don’t think Federer can win this event, there are too many variables that must go his way if he’s to hoist the trophy this coming Sunday.

And on the Women’s draw, with Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams on the sidelines, things are shaping up nicely for Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova has been on fire lately, but she hasn’t won a big event in some time. Adding the French to her over-all resume would give her all four major titles in her storied career – and would be icing on the cake for the hardworking Russian. Sharapova, some would argue, has been the most consistent player on the WTA tour in the last 12 months, without the hardware to back it up.

With so much on the line, with records hanging in the balance, with players on the verge of life-changing wins – we know that it will be a dramatic finish on the clay in Paris for tennis fans all over the world.

A deeper dive into second serve statistics

The two most widely reported second serve statistics in professional tennis are the number of double faults a player hit, and their second serve winning percentage. If we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of a particular player’s second serve, relying only on those statistics has significant drawbacks. Article by Michal Kokta.

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