If you are a big tennis fan, you know that the 2012 French Open has already started; if you are not a big tennis fan then you probably have not noticed the tournament has already started, and even some good players have already been dismissed. Are we in the middle of an era that finds Roland Garros boring? More boring than any other tournament on the tour?
How could the second major tennis tournament of the year be boring? There are many reasons why the 2012 French Open is a lot less exciting than the other 3 majors of the year. Here’s a short list of reasons why:
1. It’s sloooow. The surface is really slow and makes it boring to watch. There is another side to this though, it does extend the rallies, though it’s really nothing that is mindblowingly awesome. I prefer the US Opens’ speed (even though it too has slowed over the years), where the heavy hitters benefit and require quickness to get to the ball. On the clay, it’s less of that and more drop shots, since it’s much more difficult to get a good explosive first step to get to the ball. It is a perfectly conditioned tennis court for the player with the most spin, the ball bites off the clay and accentuates the effect; thus making kick serves, slices, and top spin angle strokes that much more effective.
2. The same guy keeps winning. Rafael “King of clay” Nadal has won the tournament damn near every time he’s entered the tournament – sans 2009. So all the French Open predictions go out the window, especially with his 97.8% match win ratio it’s boring. It’s like every prediction that comes to mind is to predict the runner up and who will beat who in which round, though keep Nadal out of that conversation. Nadal now, is especially in dominating form, Roger Federer can’t touch him and Djokovic is not really quite the beast that would take home the trophy in Paris. There really is not a single tennis player that can hurt Nadal on the red clay, the only person who has taken him out is out sick this year (Robin Soderling is sick with Mono). Novak Djokovic is strong on clay, but nothing to the caliber of Nadal, and with Roger Federer we’ve already seen it time and time again, he just can’t capitalize on his chances against the Spaniard.
3. It’s perfect for Nadal. Again, I’m going back to making this about Nadal; the court speed and surface suits Rafa’s game, it’s slows the tennis ball enough so that he has enough time to get himself in position and take a big “buggy whip” cut at the ball and make it kick off the court. I’m not saying he doesn’t have the power or the game to win, I’m merely pointing out that the court surface suits his game more than anybody else. Not many players on the tour have what Nadal has as far as clay court strokes, Nadal consistently hits that insane top spin shot so easily that it takes all the time away from his opponent.
If you have not noticed, it is all about Rafael Nadal…boring.
I suppose the only exciting thing that happen at the 2012 French Open are the early exits, you know, the unexpected losers. For example the Americans; it’s no secret that Americans are terrible on clay. Take Andy Roddick, he has a decent career on clay winning 64% of his matches and 5 titles, he lost early in the tournament taking a first round loss to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut (who’s clay court winning record is 23%). Serena Williams also bowed out early in the first round to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano (who? Ranked #115 on the WTA). Though, with all these early losers, there are a couple of Americans having a bit of French success. Let me introduce you to Brian Baker, the tennis coach from Tennessee who has been hanging around the challenger circuit, who recently had a dream run in Nice, reaching his first ATP tour level final where he lost to Nicolas Almagro. Baker is already through to the second round of the French Open, he took out the veteran Xavier Malisse in the first round. There has been more success on the women’s side of the French Open, with Mattek-Sands, Stephens, V. Williams, Falconi, Oudin, McHale, and a few others have already reached the second round.
So is the 2012 French Open really that boring? To me it is, it’s too slow and too predictable (on the men’s side). We already know that Nadal will win his 7th French Open titles this year, which to me about as exciting as watching pain dry. I’m sure there will be some really amazing matches prior to the final, but I don’t foresee the dramatic matches we have seen in recent years. I’ll still watch the tournament, I am a die hard tennis fan, though I won’t be as emotionally involved as I would be in other tournaments.