The 2012 French Open has reached its halfway mark, and there have been quite a few upsets.
From Serena William’s choke in the first round to Novak Djokovic’s comeback from a two-set deficit, the competition has been shaken up with the cream of the crop rising to the top.
Although some of the most standout players have fallen, they are definitely noteworthy as threats on clay.
Take a look as I go through the top five players who really made a name for themselves at Roland Garros this year.
Nicolas Almagro starts this list off because the Spaniard has done something at the 2012 French Open that only his quarterfinal opponent Rafael Nadal has done: He hasn’t lost a single set.
On a cold and windy Monday, Almagro defeated No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 and now will take on the King of Clay.
Almagro’s game usually doesn’t fare well on clay, but somehow his big serve has done him well. Against Tipsarevic, Almagro proved that he doesn’t do well in long points (he only won 29 percent of the points after a rally of nine or more shots). It’s not typical of clay court players to lack the ability to put together points, but Almagro’s pace has been a surprise weapon on the court.
Historically, Almagro has done the best at Roland Garros and has reached the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2010 before losing. Unfortunately for Almagro, with Nadal as his foe, he might keep that record up.
Although Andreas Seppi won’t be going any further in the 2012 French Open, his career definitely took a lead forward in his fourth-round loss to No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The 28-year-old Italian took the first two sets in his meeting with Djokovic, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Having previously won only two sets in their last seven meetings, Seppi’s performance on Sunday was a shock to everyone.
Ironically enough, Seppi’s best weapon was his backhand, which also happens to be Djokovic’s best shot.
Seppi came into the fourth round, treating it like a chess match, and was able to out maneuver Djokovic in the first two sets. Even after Nole started to make his comeback, Seppi continued to show his mental strength and fought back.
He may be out, but he’s definitely a standout player from the 2012 French Open.
With No. 1 Victoria Azarenka out, No. 2 Maria Sharapova is now the highest-ranked player left in the 2012 French Open women’s singles draw.
It was a walk in the park for Sharapova until the fourth round. Sharapova hadn’t dropped a set; in fact, she only gave up five games in her first three matches.
Then the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and so did the competition.
It took Maria three sets—6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2—to take down Klara Zakopalova, but it proved just how big of a threat Sharapova is.
Zakopalova pushed Sharapova into a shaky state in the second, causing Maria to have 53 unforced errors, but Maria battled her way to the quarterfinals after regaining her perfectly precise forehand.
Thus far, Sharapova has proven that she can rally and compete when the times are tough, and now it seems as if the 2012 French Open is hers for the taking.
Everyone dreams of meeting their childhood hero, and on Sunday, 21-year-old David Goffin met his: Roger Federer, his opponent in the fourth round of the 2012 French Open.
Goffin, the so-called “lucky loser,” was able to take the first set 7-5 before falling to his idol in four sets. He may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.
His play at Roland Garros this year was his first time playing in the main draw of a major tournament, a spot he only got because someone else dropped out.
Before taking on Fed-Ex, Goffin managed three upsets over No. 23 Radek Stepanek, Arnaud Clement and Lukasz Kubot.
After putting his great service skills on display on the grand stage of Roland Garros, we can expect to see more of David Goffin in the tournaments to come.
Another player that is no longer in the 2012 French Open is 19-year-old Sloane Stephens, but she was definitely a stand out player on clay.
The breakout American star lost to No. 6 Samantha Stosur in the fourth round—5-7, 4-6—but she did show a glimmer of what’s to come. Stephens was up on Stosur 5-3 in the first set, and she has her massive forehand to thank.
Stephens’ fairytale continues, as she has the chance to join the U.S. Olympic team. Serena and Venus Williams and Christina McHale are already in, and now Stephens is competing against Varvara Lepchenko for the final spot.
With her power and quick side-to-side movements, she stood out on clay, and if she makes it, could stand out in London.
It would be blasphemous to have a list of great clay court players and not include Rafael Nadal.
The King of Clay has yet to drop a set at Roland Garros, in fact, Nadal hasn’t lost a set since his slip up on blue clay in Madrid.
Rafa has stayed out of the news because he has breezed through the draw so far, losing only 17 games thus far.
Nadal is looking for his seventh French Open title, which would break Bjorn Borg’s record, and once again solidify that when it comes to clay, Nadal is the best.
Breaking any record is always a milestone in sports, but when Roger Federer won in the second round of the 2012 French Open, he wasn’t breaking just any record.
By taking down Romania’s Adrian Ungur, Federer broke Jimmy Connor’s record of 233 grand slam match victories.
With 16 grand slam titles—one at every major tournament—234 grand slam match victories is just another feather in Fed-Ex’s cap.