In two quarterfinals that took place today at Roland Garros, players that advanced are those that actually consider, or at least used to consider, clay their least preferable surface.
Maria Sharapova is not a good slider on clay and four years ago at the very same tournament she famously compared her movement with a "cow on ice", but now, with a different setting in women’s tennis, she’s a title favorite and today she had a straightforward 6-0 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic to reach the semifinals. The three-time Grand Slam champion, seeded seventh this year, is now only two wins away from completing a career slam. Just to mention, Sharapova did play the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2007 and lost to Ana Ivanovic. She lost in the quarters three times.
Sharapova’s opponent in the 2011 semifinal will be China’s Li Na, who used to think of Roland Garros as the last place where she could go that far. The sixth-seeded Li has had a change of mind after her 7-5 6-2 quarterfinal victory over Victoria Azarenka. Li believes her success will give extra confidence to other Asian players, whose flat shots are more compatible with grass and hardcourts.
Li is used to writing the tennis history of her country and now she’s become the first Chinese player to reach the semis of Roland Garros in singles. Actually, the only other Grand Slam where Li went this far is the Australian Open where she finished runner-up this year.
Women’s tennis is so unpredictable nowadays that even players themselves are sometimes caught in surprise.
The other semifinal will feature home favorite Marion Bartoli vs. holder Francesca Schiavone. (photos courtesy of Tony)