Go Figure in Paris

By Jane Voigt

May 30, 2014 — The hits just keep on coming. 

First Li Na, then Serena Williams, and today Agnieszka Radwanska lost to Alja Tomljanovic 64 64. That’s the top three seeds in the women’s singles draw.

Go figure.

Now the highest seed is, naturally, No. 4. That woman is Simona Halep of Romania. 

She’s 22 years old, was ranked No. 47 and the end of 2012, and No. 11 at the end of 2013. When the French Tennis Federation closed registration, she was ranked No. 4 … her seeding. 

Last year she lost in the first round of Roland Garros. By the time The Australian Open came around in January she had developed her game to one of precision, persistence, and savvy tactics. She made the quarterfinals in Melbourne. 

Such has been the climb of this five-six woman who now is being asked how she feels about being called the favorite

“[I] feel a little pressure about being the favorite,” Halep told the press. 

Just how does this happen?

We could peg it to the luck of the draw, or that Mercury is in retrograde — is it? — or that this Roland Garros is an upstaging of the “old guard.” But that’s erroneous because since 2000 ten different women have won the title. 

Justine Henin won 4. Serena Williams won twice. Three have retired — Mary Pierce, Jennifer Capriati, and Anastasia Myskina. 

Who are the others? Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 Women’s Champion, lost in round one this year to Alja Tomljanovic, who also put an end to Radwanska’s hopes today. Li Na (2011 Champion) lost in the first round. Serena (2002 and 2013 Champion) lost in round two. 

The former champions that remain viable 2014 champions are Maria Sharapova (2012 Champion), Ana Ivanovic (2008 Champion) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009 Champion). The highest seed among them is Sharapova at No. 7. Ivanovic No. 11 and Kuznetsova No. 27.

Yep … no pattern. Not even a hint of a trend except that there is no trend.

Therefore, Halep does has a betting chance to breakthrough. But win? Let’s not get too far ahead. 

First up tomorrow morning on Court 2, Halep meets Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor. The Spaniard defeated Klara Koukalova, seeded No. 30, in the first round, which could have added to the momentum of the ‘uprising’ if you can stretch your metaphysical interpretation. Saturday’s match-up is the first for Halep and Torro-Flor. 

If Halep wins, the hill steepens. In the Romanian’s quarter of the draw are two of the former champions: Ivanovic and Kuznetsova. The likely quarterfinal would be Halep and Ivanovic. She is looking very sharp and comfortable. Since this half of the draw is not as decimated as the top half, Halep could prevail and advance to the final but would have a difficult time defeating, let’s say Maria Sharapova. She has the experience … Grand Slam final experience. 

Halep scooted up the rankings last year because she won 7 titles. It’s a heap of accolades. However, it is not a Grand Slam. Halep lost to Dominika Cibulkova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, 63 60. That’s a walloping. Cibulkova, the eventual runner-up in Melbourne, lost today to Samantha Stosur (No. 19); and, the fiery Slovakian played lights out tennis. Although Stosur never won Roland Garros, she did make the final in 2010. Expected to win, she could not pull out all the stops and let Schiavone through to the trophy. 

Halep pulled out of Rome with an injury, but said, “I feel one-hundred percent after my pull-out in Rome.” Being physically healthy heading into the second week of a slam is a bonus as the body tightens from nerves. 

It’s interesting … we are already talking about a winner on the women’s side when the round of 16 has not been set. That’s what happens when shock and awe assume the driver’s seat of a draw. Mental chaos from the gallery. 

Halep is a dangerous player. There is no doubt. She is seeded at No. 4 because she belongs there. She earned the berth fair and square. However, if we step back an inch and peak at the week’s wild ride, we have to conclude that anything could happen. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013