Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



5 Things I Will Not Miss Now That the 2012 French Open is Finally Over… 33

Posted on June 12, 2012 by JA Allen

Bad weather was a constant in week 2 of the 2012 French Open

It was thrilling to watch Maria Sharapova capture her first French Open title, garnering a career grand slam, sinking to her knees on Court Phillippe Chatrier.

The French Open represented the last jewel in her grand slam tiara, having won titles at Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows and Melbourne.

Equally as compelling was Rafael Nadal’s resurgence to capture his seventh French Open Crown.

These were two of the great moments of the tournament.

Yet, of all of the grand slam tournaments held throughout the tennis season, the least favorite for this avid tennis fan and author, is the French Open. Watching matches on the grounds of Stade Roland Garros leaves one feeling gritty and drained.

Viewers must endure unending, painful encounters on the red dirt where the participants grunt and grumble—often an induced by-product of countless strokes ending when one of the players runs out of gas.

Held annually in Paris, there is normally about as much mystery concerning the outcome of the men’s final as there was when Columbo prowled crime scenes looking to uncover the guilty party.  In the end there was never any doubt but that the rumpled, bumbling detective would figure out “who done it!”

The only time since 2005 that the winner of men’s final has ever been in doubt was when Rafael Nadal was not playing—which happened once in the past eight years.

So who needs to watch it, you ask?

Rafael Nadal tortured Novak Djokovic for four sets during the 2012 French Open.

Unless you are some sort of a sadist who gets your kicks out of seeing how inept Nadal can make the guy on the other side of the net look—just watching the scores blink by on your computer screen is good enough.

As for the ladies – making the French Open final has been a crapshoot from start to finish since Justine Henin retired from the sport in 2008. This fact alone makes it much more exciting than the men’s draw but fifty times as frustrating.

Talk about parity! There is parity in the top 50 in the women’s game when it comes to the slams since Serena Williams suffered her foot injury in 2010.

Perhaps Sharapova’s rise to the top of the rankings will mark the end of this current trend.

As for the French Open itself—here are five things no one will miss.

Read the rest of this entry →

Maria Sharapova Claims Career Grand Slam 4

Posted on June 09, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Maria Sharapova joined elite company with her French Open title.

With her dominating victory in the 2012 French Open finals, Maria Sharapova became just the sixth player in the open era of women’s tennis (10th all-time) to claim the career grand slam. However, while each of the other five posted double digit victories in each tournament, Sharapova has yet to win any of the championships more than once.

Since emerging on the scene as a 17-year-old with a victory over Serena Williams in the Wimbledon Finals in 2004, we have been waiting for Sharapova to become the dominant player in women’s tennis.

The 6-foot-2 inch Sarapova certainly has the size and power to be a dominant player, but injuries and an inability to maintain her game at the highest level has kept her from being consistently dominant.

She won the 2006 U.S. Open and 2008 Australian Open before a shoulder injury hampered her over the next two years.

Sharapova reemerged as a top five player in 2011, but was unable to win a grand slam title. She reached the semifinals at the French Open and finals at Wimbledon, but lost both matches in straight sets. Read the rest of this entry →

2012 French Open: Who Will Shine, Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams? 38

Posted on May 25, 2012 by JA Allen

The French Open gets underway on Sunday with Sharapova one of the favorites.

Finally, grand slam No. 2 gets underway Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Paris.

Thankfully, it marks the end of the ever-increasingly dull, dusty and predictable clay court season for the men.

While watching men play tennis on clay is second only to watching the grass grow, the women have presented far more entertainment on the clay in terms of survivors—overlooking the shrieking, sliding and assault of injuries.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova enter this year’s French Open as the early favorites according to the latest news centered on the ladies draw for the second grand slam of the season.

Of the two, most look to Serena Williams to conquer the clay this season. The fact remains, however, that Serena Williams has not done so for a decade. The last time the younger Williams sister won the French Open title was in 2002. It turned out to be her only trip to the final, falling short in each of her other nine attempts.

Sharapova, on the other hand, has never yet made a final on the grounds of Stade Roland Garros.

The reason pundits and fans find Williams the most probable champion is because there is no viable clear-cut favorite on clay. Roland Garros has crowned highly improbable champions every season since Belgian Justine Henin first retired for in 2008.

In 2008 Serbian beauty Ana Ivanovic stepped up large to claim the French Open crown and the No. 1 spot for the ladies. She quickly faded after leaving Paris when her game fell apart and her ranking slowly sank of sight.

Next up, Svetlana Kuznetsova skyrocketed from the field in 2009 to steal the championship away from fellow Russian Dinara Safina who also lost the final in 2008. But like Ivanovic before her, Kuznetsova could find no more magic after leaving the grounds of Roland Garros in 2009. Since winning in Paris, Kuznetsova has disappeared, her ranking slowly receding.

The feisty Italian Francesca Schiavone refused to lose in 2010 as she wrestled the championship away from a revitalized Samantha Stosur. The Aussie, after defeating the former French Open winner Justine Henin, followed by Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic, could not quell the determination of Schiavone to seize the championship—her first at age 29.

But in 2011, Schiavone was the one who suffered defeat from an improbable source—Li Na of China who was also winning her first major. Like the three champions preceding her, however, Li Na suffered from post-French Open syndrome. Her game suffered and her ranking fell.

Read the rest of this entry →

Forecasting the Fortunes of the Top Seeds at the 2012 French Open 13

Posted on May 04, 2012 by JA Allen

The 2012 French Open gets underway on May 27, 2012

The clay-court season has offered few surprises so far for the men on tour.

Rafael Nadal has re-established his iron foothold on the red clay, offering his opponents a healthy dose of lethal backspin and Majorcan aggression. There is something about breathing red dust that instills Nadal with an air of invincibility few can overcome.

For the ladies, Queen Victoria Azarenka has bowed to few, trying to cement her grasp on the No. 1 ranking.

Losing only to Marion Bartoli at Indian Wells, Azarenka demonstrated no nervous tics or signs of relenting her perch at the top of the women’s game. That is, until she was buried under a siege of Russian ground strokes thrown at her by world No. 2  Marian Sharapova at Stuttgart.

Sharapova pulled the proverbial rug out from under Azarenka in Germany during the finals on Sunday, winning 6-1, 6-4.

The women’s top four players—Azarenka, Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska appear to have established some sort of stability for the ladies, although certainly not on a par with the men’s top four—Novak Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and  Andy Murray.

In a few weeks, both the men and the women will roll into Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam of the season.

Those at the top will continue to be favored to win, but there may be some surprises on the terre battue in Paris.

Read the rest of this entry →

Potential 4th Round Blockbusters at the 2012 Australian Open 5

Posted on January 20, 2012 by JA Allen

Victoria Azarenka is favored to win her first major down under.

As week one at the Australian Open in Melbourne draws to a close, there are some mouth-watering matches we earnestly pray will happen. They involve top-ranked players as well as aspiring new-comers hoping to reach the summit by upsetting those at the top.

We have already seen some heart-breakers like No. 6 seed Aussie Samantha Stosur stumbling out of the blocks as well as the top-ranked American Mardy Fish going out in the second round.

But when a door closes, a window opens. These upsets might unveil a new talent preparing his or her first full-fledged assault on a major.

As we head into round four, also called the round of 16, there are some challenging matches on tap—if only all the promised ones make it through the third round staging ground.

Following are the matches we sincerely hope will happen.

Read the rest of this entry →

Playing the Tennis Rankings Game: Reviewing the Top 10 in 2011… 9

Posted on November 02, 2011 by JA Allen

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the new world No. 1 in men's tennis.

What a difference a year makes. Nothing brings that point home more than looking back at the men’s and women’s tennis rankings at the end of 2010—and comparing it to today’s ranking.

For the last two years,  the ladies’ rankings were as follows:

2010

  1. Caroline Wozniacki
  2. Vera Zvonareva
  3. Kim Clijsters
  4. Serena Williams
  5. Venus Williams
  6. Samantha Stosur
  7. Francesca Schiavone
  8. Jelena Jankovic
  9. Elena Dementieva
  10. Victoria Azarenka

2011

  1. Caroline Wozniacki
  2. Petra Kvitova
  3. Victoria Azarenka
  4. Maria Sharapova
  5. Na Li
  6. Samantha Stosur
  7. Vera Zvonareva
  8. Agnieszka Radwanska
  9. Marion Bartoli
  10. Andrea Petkovic

Only four of the WTA top ten ranked women at end of 2010 appear again in the top ten in 2011 after the ladies concluded their battle for the 2011 WTA championship.

Many of the perennial “standards” have faded from sight with no Williams sisters or Kim Clijsters making the cut.

For the men, the story is a bit different. While the ATP top ten ranked players at the end of 2010 had a different order, most of the names are the same in 2011—now, as the final three men struggle to make the ATP elite eight field for the 2011 year-end championship.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    Cold Stone Franchise
  • Current Poll

    Which Rookie Quarterback Will Start More Games in 2017?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top