French Open 2013: Winners and Losers at Roland Garros

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJune 9, 2013

French Open 2013: Winners and Losers at Roland Garros

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    The 2013 French Open is in the books, and it has been one for the ages. 

    We have seen legends cement their legacy, former champions fall and the plus-30 crowd find wings.

    From the Venus Williams vs. Urszula Radwanska epic that kicked things off to the moment when Rafael Nadal fell on his back in his patented victory formation, it's been nonstop entertainment.

    Here's a look at all of the winners and losers from a fabulous fortnight.

Winner: Favorites

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    It was a great week for the players who came into the French Open with high expectations.

    Rafael Nadal won his eighth Roland Garros title and completed one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history.

    Serena Williams ended an 11-year title drought at the French Open to win her 16th Grand Slam.

    The Bryan brothers ended a 10-year French title drought of their own in doubles, winning their second title in Paris by defeating hometown heroes Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut in an incredibly tight final.

    The only upset came in the women's doubles final, when No. 4 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina upset defending champions Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the doubles final.

    Overall, it was a good fortnight to be a player with pressure on your shoulders.

    Score one for the oddsmakers.

Loser: The French Crowd

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    It was not a good two weeks for the most confusing and volatile crowd in all of tennis.

    They continued to offer lackluster support for legends such as Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.

    The stands were not full for the first few sets of Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic, which is absolutely inexcusable.

    They actually cheered for French player Marion Bartoli's opponent Olga Govortsova late in her marathon first-round match, in an apparent urge to get her off the court so that Novak Djokovic could begin his match.

    On top of that, after two weeks of false hope watching Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seemingly invoke the spirit of Yannick Noah, they're left without a French champion once again.

    Le depressing.

Winner: David Ferrer

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    The often-overlooked Spaniard stole the spotlight this tournament as he marched to his very first Grand Slam final at the age of 31.

    Paris sure has been good to Ferrer, who won his first Masters title last November at the Paris Masters and now finally got past the semifinals at a major for the first time this week.

    Sure, he had help from the draw since he didn't have to face Nadal or Djokovic until the final, but he made the most of it. His performance in the semifinals against Tsonga was simply merciless.

    Unfortunately, he did have to face his countryman and legend Rafael Nadal in the final, but it was still a tournament that added to the increasingly impressive career resume of David Ferrer.

Loser: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    It is tempting to put Jo-Wilfried Tsonga into the "winner" category after his phenomenal play during a run to the semifinals, including his definitive straight-sets upset over Roger Federer.

    Unfortunately, his play in the semis against David Ferrer was so disappointing that it cannot be overlooked. He had a golden opportunity to make it to his second Grand Slam final in front of his home crowd, and he simply didn't show up.

    His quotes after the match were equally baffling, as he told the press, "I was surprised by how fast Ferrer moves around the court. He returned really well too."

    Has he never seen David Ferrer play tennis? That's just ridiculous.

Winner: American Women

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    It was a fabulous two weeks for American women in Paris, as four of them made it to the Round of 16 in a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2004 U.S. Open.

    Even though only Serena Williams made it to the quarterfinals or beyond, American women still made huge strides.

    Bethanie Mattek-Sands upset former Roland Garros champion Li Na, Jamie Hampton took out former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens rebounded from a rough post-Australian Open slump to live up to her seeding in Paris.

    There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the future here in the United States.

Loser: The British

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    It was already a rough French Open for the British since Andy Murray was out of the tournament before it even began.

    But things got worse when Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Elena Baltacha all lost in the first round, leaving the Brits without any singles players in the second round.

    It was entertaining to watch the British journalists struggle to keep tennis on the front pages throughout the tournament. 

    They sure are glad that Wimbledon is just around the corner!

Winner: Twitter

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    The tournament for Twitter started out with a bang, as the Swiss Maestro Roger Federer himself got an account and started tweeting out endearingly dorky photos right away. 

    Things only got better for Twitter when a bored Andy Murray started tweeting about the tournament, professing his love for Gael Monfils, "Rolly G" and YouTube.

    By the end of the tournament Tomas Berdych had made a dazzling Twitter debut as well, and even Marion Bartoli joined in on the fun.

    With players utilizing the service and fans and journalists watching tennis from around the world at the same time, Twitter remains an invaluable part of the lives of tennis fans during Grand Slams, especially during the first week when it's hard to keep up with everything.

    Rafael Nadal even thanked fans for their messages on Twitter during his post-victory interview.

    Tweet away, tennis fans!

Loser: Television

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    It was yet another disaster of a tournament for television broadcasting.

    In the United States, the French Open was broadcast on three separate channels: the Tennis Channel, ESPN2 and NBC. Instead of working together to seamlessly bring us a good viewing experience, they all fought against each other and made watching the tournament on television a fragmented and frustrating experience.

    All of the networks had the tendency to go to the booth way too often, always causing viewers to miss the first few games of a set and often much more. Stars handing out blowouts were often showed instead of much more competitive matches, and the jumping around between matches in the first week was often disjointed and ill-timed.

    But the real failures came when NBC took over the coverage. When this happened, NBC killed the streams that ESPN and Tennis Channel provided and didn't use its cable network to show any of the matches. This left viewers in the United States without a legal option to watch matches such as Ana Ivanovic vs. Agnieszka Radwanska and Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Jerzy Janowicz.

    NBC also still values its morning programming over live tennis and therefore continues to show tape-delayed coverage on the West Coast. This is simply unfathomable in 2013. 

Winner: Tommys

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    It was a French Open for the ages if your name is Tommy and you're over 30.

    Tommy Robredo made Grand Slam history by coming back from two sets down for three straight matches as he upset his way to the quarterfinals. This time last year, he was playing a Challenger and ranked well outside the Top 200 as he tried to come back from injury.

    His come-from-behind wins over crowd favorite Gael Monfils in the third round and Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round were particularly inspiring.

    Tommy Haas also impressed, making his first French Open quarterfinal at the age of 35. Haas played one of the best matches in the tournament against John Isner in the third round, as it took him 13 match points to seal the win late in the fifth set. 

    Last year, Haas was ranked No. 112 and had to qualify to get into the French Open. This year he was the No. 12 seed and made the quarterfinals. Phenomenal.

Loser: Li Na

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    What a disappointing tournament from 2011 champion Li Na, who crashed out to an in-form Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round.

    The erratic Li has been unable to capture consistency, even with new coach Carlos Rodriguez by her side.

    She was so great in her run to the Australian Open final earlier this year, and had she not twisted her ankle mid-match she might have captured her second Grand Slam trophy in January.

    But here, at a tournament where she made history, she was simply unable to find her footing and looked like a shadow of her former self.

    Her comments after the loss were also flippant and bizarre and apparently caused an commotion with the Chinese media.

    She is just way too talented of a player to lose in the second round of majors.

Winner: The Rafole Rivalry

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    It was another epic match in what has become the greatest rivalry in tennis, and perhaps in all of sports.

    This time Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in the semifinals, and the match definitely lived up to the billing.

    Nadal held off Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 9-7 in a topsy-turvy affair that saw the Spaniard serve for the match in the fourth set and recover from an early break in the fifth set.

    The 35th meeting between these two lasted four hours and 47 minutes and left fans across the world captivated. Luckily for us, these two are only 26 and 27 and have a lot of great years ahead of them. I can't wait for the next chapter.

Loser: Protesters

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    As if the grey skies and one-way traffic weren't depressing enough, protesters decided to throw another wrench into the French Open final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

    It began with chants that delayed play as David Ferrer was trying to serve, and culminated as a man without a shirt on ran onto the court with a flare, terrifying Rafael Nadal and viewers everywhere.

    Reports show that the protesters were protesting same-sex rights in France. It's tough to imagine what made them think that disrupting the French Open was the best way to get their point across.

    It must be said that security acted swiftly to keep the players safe and get the fire put out immediately. Still, it's a shame that they found their way into the event at all. The French Open might want to beef up security before putting priority on a roof.