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5 things we learned at Roland Garros Day 11:When in trouble do the rain dance
A few weeks ago in Rome in the final of the Italian Open, Alex Zverev led Rafael Nadal by a break in the final set and the rain came. When they returned, Nadal reeled off four straight games to win the set and the match. On day 10, Nadal was trailing 11th seed Diego Schwartzman by a break in the second set after losing the first. Nadal returned, recovered the break to draw level at 3-3 and broke again to lead 5-3. He was 30-15 up when the rain implored them to leave again. They resume on day 12. Will Schwartzman turn the tide after his rain dance?
- No pain, no gain
The big match on day nine between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams never happened because Williams pulled out with a shoulder injury. And Sharapova advanced to the quarter-final on day 11 where she was soundly thrashed. Garbine Muguruza hacked her up 6-2 6-1 in 70 minutes. It was Sharapova’s worst showing at a Grand Slam tournament since Viktoria Azarenka slapped her about 6-3 6-0 in the final at the 2012 Australian Open. Would she have been more battle hardened had she defeated Williams and not had an enforced rest? “I think I made up for that by the amount of the hours that I have been on the court the last couple of weeks,” deadpanned Sharapova. “So I don't think I can use that as an excuse.” Honest and defeated.
- Muguruza takes on the player, not the legend
Third seed v 28th seed. What should be the result? In normal circumstances, the odds would be with the third seed. But because the 28th seed just happened to be a certain Maria Sharapova, former world number one and five time Grand Slam champion, there was talk of a contest. But Muguruza clinically deconstructed those notions during 70 minutes of hardline tennis. She played a drugs cheat and an ageing icon and showed – despite her winsome demeanour – not a glint of sentiment. At the end of the dismissal there were no clenched fists and exclamations of achievement. Just the waves to the crowd. She came to do the business against the 28th seed and did it. Impressive.
- Winner takes all … but a trophy
After their victories on day 11, third seed Garbine Muguruza and top seed Simona Halep advanced to the semi-final. The winner of the match on day 12 will be world number one. Halep will either keep her status or Muguruza will reclaim the place she held for four weeks between September and October 2017. Muguruza says being queen of the circuit doesn’t enthral her as before.
“I don't give it too much attention,” she told reporters after her quarter-final. “Every week a list comes out. In the past few years, I used to take this into account and I shouldn't have taken it so much to heart. So now I don't have it in mind constantly. If I make it, it's all very well. Otherwise, there will be more opportunities.” That there’s experience talking.
- The cream rises
All four women in the semi-finals have been in Grand Slam finals. Madison Keys plays Sloane Stephens in the lower half of the draw nine months after they contested the US Open final. In the top half, Halep has lost three finals while Muguruza has claimed the French Open and Wimbledon. It’s not like that with the men. Neither Marco Cecchinato nor Dominic Thiem - who play each other on day 13 - have featured in a championship match. In the rain affected quarter-finals from the top half of the draw, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic have won the US Open and we all know about Mr Nadal. Diego Schwartzman has a chance to hit the big time. Time to get dancing Diego.