Don’t think of tennis as a game between gentlemen and ladies, but rather as ritualized murder. The gladiators descend into the arena where they then have at each other with the weapon of choice, a racket, but with a ball between them to keep them from murdering each other.
I just watched an incredible tennis match in the fourth round of the French Open at Rolland Garros between Kevin Anderson (South Africa) and Diego Schwartzman (Argentina and Jewish). Kevin Anderson is 6 ft 6 in tall and Diego S. is 5 ft 7 in, the one towers over the other. I watched the beginning of the match and Anderson was hitting many aces, as he always does, and he won the first two sets easily 6-1 and 6-2. In the third set he was up 5-4 and had match points and it looked like it would soon be over and I went to lie down.
I got up an hour later to find that Schwartzman had fought back and won the third set 7-5 staving off two match points. I watched it from then on and is was obvious that Anderson lacked the stamina of Schwartzman. Anderson’s unforced error count went from 8-12-25-32 per set and S. won the fourth set by 7-6 in a tie break and the last 6-2. It was amazing. So Schwartzman is in the last eight, only the second time in his career. As my Dad said a good little ‘un will beat a good big ‘un every time.
The following day I watched the epic struggle between Maria Sharapova (Rus) and Garbine Muguruza (Spain). Both women are tall (6 ft 2 in and 6 ft respectively) and impressive, Sharapova (aged 30) is blonde and Muguruza (aged 24) is raven haired. Sharapova was ranked no.30, but that was because she missed a year recently due to her being banned for taking an illegal substance. Muguruza was ranked no. 3 and on that basis one might expect her to win. But, these women did not wear frilly pink shorts, they came dressed in dark blue and black respectively and their aim was to destroy the other. During each point Sharapova’s shrill primal scream was off-putting to say the least. They fired cannons at each other at every opportunity, this was power tennis. But Sharapova’s serve let her down, she made many double faults and unforced errors and Muguruza hit hard serves and made many winners. In the end Muguruza won easily 6-2 6-1. Although Sharapova won their previous three matches, the tables are now turned and Muguruza is a female player to watch. Unfortunately she was then defeated by Simona Halep (Romania) in the semi-final 6-1 6-4.
Diego Schwartzman played Rafa Nadal in the quarter-final. Since Nadal is ranked no. 1 and has won the French Open 10 times he was obviously the favorite. But, Schwartzman took the first set off Nadal 6-4, the first person to win a set against him at Rolland Garros in 35 matches. However, it was not enough, after the rain-break Nadal came out determined and won the next three sets. And we haven’t even got to the finals yet.