Wednesday, June 6, 2007


The last time there were three players from one country in the semifinals of a Grand Slam was the 2006 US Open, when Sharapova, Davydenko and Youzhny continued the Russian conquest of tennis.

Prior to that, it was at Wimbledon in 2005, when Roddick, Davenport and Venus Williams all flew the American flag into the semis and then finals - the most successful U.S. slam in recent history.

So this year, at the French, when a Cold War nation is not the first in the Race to Tres in the semis, we're all shocked...but not because we expected the Americans or Russians to do unusual damage here, but because a country - Serbia - is that dignified nation. A country that (in its current form) has had one Grand Slam semifinalist - ever.

Now they have three. In one tournament.

That's a pretty big deal.

Djokovic, Ivanovic and Jankovic are certainly not newbies to the upper echelon of tennis. They have all formulated their own, respectable paths to their current places in the game, and have been under the watchful eye of the tennis faithful for some time.

And the big thing is that each of these three - Novak, Ana and Jelena - have a legitimate shot at winning their semifinal bouts on the red stuff over the next two days.

Though Jankovic is 0-5 against the diminutive Henin, all five of their matches have gone the distance. And, their three meetings this year have all ended 6-4 in the third. Needless to say, it's been a tight go.

Djokovic got his only win over Nadal on a big stage this year, winning in Florida for a Masters title. But their head-to-heads have been lack luster thus far, something the semifinal promises to be just opposite of. With both youngsters playing well, we could see a neck-and-neck battle.

So while the seeds are against Serbia in the semis (playing against # 1, 2 and 2, respectively) red clay is always good to the dark horse - especially late in the tournament.

Who would've thought Serbia's the new Belgium?


Troy said...

I love 'Serbi - finalists.'

Nick McCarvel said...

I'm glad you like it. It took me a few minutes to figure that one out. I think it came in the same stream of thought as the Justine-Serena commentary re-count.