By Jane Voigt
June 2, 2014 — We’ve had so many ‘firsts’ at this French Open. Maybe the impact has dulled. First time in Open Era top two women’s seeds out. First time in Open Era top three women’s seeds out. First time American Donald Young made the third round. First time Roger Federer missed the quarters in Paris in something like 100 years, or there about.
So let’s by straight forward today.
Simona Halep defeated America’s hope for a peek deep into a slam draw, Sloane Stephens, 64 63. Halep, the highest seed remaining at No. 4, will play her first-ever quarterfinal in Paris. Why? Because she played better. Her words, not ours.
On the other side of the net, Sloane Stephens did not make her first quarterfinal inroads at Roland Garros because she could not fend off the superb ball movement and placement from her opponent Halep. Even though her serve is weak, well, the weakest part of her game, Stephens could not create an edge against the rising Romanian. Perhaps Stephens will learn, sooner than later, that she has to step it up outside of slams where she has seemed complacent and satisfied with early-round losses. Her attitude — I have plenty of time — goes contrary to those woman in her age bracket — Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza — who remain in the competition. They are on the fast track and will leave Stephens in the dust if her commitment doesn’t find solid ground. With Stephens’ exit today, the women’s singles’ draw is now devoid of Americans.
The Bryan Brothers … the stalwart American twins, with a trophy case stuffed full of luxurious hard-ware from 15 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, failed to reach the semifinals today. They lost to the 2013 ATP World Tour Champions Mark Granollers and Mark Lopez, 64 62. The Bryans were the defending champions.
When pundits say there are ‘no Americans left in the draw,’ which is a common call since 2010, they are sincere in their proclamation. This year is no different except for one category, mixed doubles. American Eric Butorac and Timea Babos of Hungary have earned a berth in the mixed doubles semifinals.
Gael Monfils … The uber-athletic Frenchman defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 60 62 75 to move into his first quarterfinal since 2011. Garcia-Lopez had a heck of a tournament, though. He ousted the Australian Open Champion Stan Wawrinka in round one, and waved good-bye to the resilient American Donald Young that came from 2 sets down to lose at the margin in the fifth. Talk about good tournament!
French fans inside Stade Roland Garros late this afternoon vigorously roared as their own saw fit to trim his normally agonizing 5-set dramas to three and treat himself to a bit of rest and relaxation before Andy Murray stands across the net.
Finally to the Junior Roland Garros Championships. Sixteen-year-old American Francis Tiafoe, the No. 1 seed, lost in the second round of Boys Singles to Jan Choinski of Germany. Tiafoe resides and trains outside Washington D.C. He has been hitting tennis balls around the courts of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, since he was 2. His father worked in maintenance at this U.S.T.A. junior development center. While Dad toiled, Francis kept himself occupied on the tennis courts. Tiafoe is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.