He'd never won a five-set match. Which means he'd never come back from two sets to love down. But Paul-Henri Mathieu, the Frenchman who ended Gustavo Kuerten's love affair with Paris, moved into the third round today with a gallant 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 comeback against Spain's Oscar Hernandez in a match that lasted more than four hours.
Serena Williams fought off a feisty effort from France's Mathilde Johansson to advance 6-2, 7-5. How she managed to lose seven games is beyond me. No it's not. She was gagging like a strangle victim in the second set. She better close out these early-round matches with less drama if she intends to make a run at the title here.
Maria Sharapova got all she could handle from the teenage backboard named Evgeniya Rodina. In the deciding set, the Russian upstart didn't face a break point through the first 12 games, while Maria saved three. Too bad the youngster didn't know about injury timeouts. Clearly inhibited by some physical ailments late in the third set, she never called for the trainer even though one was "on-call" at courtside. Showing incredible poise in her first Slam match, I'd venture a guess that she pulls off this upset if she'd gotten the rubdown she so desperately needed. Or maybe that's just my bias talking. The way Mary Jo Fernandez and Pam Shriver and Mary Carillo and Dick Endberg were licking Maria's nether regions throughout the ESPN re-broadcast, some balance is required. Justine Henin's retirement leaves this one at the top of the rankings.
Rafael Nadal must be pissed. He had to wait yet again for his first-round match to be completed while the women's matches scheduled in front of him went on and on and on, including the one I just mentioned. But he was calm and focused and relentless, as usual. He has to play a talented Frenchman tomorrow. Could be a fun time in front of all those French fans.
Speaking of which, where the hell are the fans? There are a lot of empty seats on all the show courts, even when the Frenchies are on the court. What's up with that?
Oh, yeah. American Wayne Odesnik won that winnable match I spoke of day before yesterday. He's the first American male into the third round since...James Blake.