French Open 2011 Results: Fognini's Withdrawal Makes Him One of Today's Losers
Day 9 at Roland Garros is complete.
As I've said many times before, this is the most grueling of any ATP tournament for any player who makes it to the second week. Playing back-to-back five-set matches can test the physical wherewithal of even the world's finest athletes.
Fabio Fognini was the tournament's first true victim, as he was forced to leave the tournament without being defeated on the court.
With the quarterfinals looming so close, you can almost taste them, and there are very few matches to select winners and losers from.
However, each match is highly contested, and many matches are won with one break each set. Also, the meaning of each win and loss from here on out holds so much more value.
Here are the top two winners and losers from Monday at the French Open.
Winner No. 1: Maria Sharapova
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Maybe it's just her piercing scream, but watching Maria Sharapova makes me think she wants to win more than anyone else.
Sharapova saved five set points in the second set to get by Agnieszka Radwanska in two hard-fought sets. Sharapova's power was incredible, as she had 47 winners compared to Radwanska's 13. Sharapova sustained her confidence throughout the match and wasn't afraid to let her strokes get close to the lines.
Perhaps her most impressive quality was her refusal to take any speed off her second serve. Sharapova continued to hit second serves around 100 miles per hour despite seven double faults in the match. Her unbelievable competitiveness in each point truly helped her move through to the quarterfinals.
Up next for Sharapova will be German Andrea Petkovic.
Winner No. 2: Na Li
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Na Li overcame a sloppy first set to battle back and defeat Petra Kvitova in three sets.
As a whole, the match only took one hour and 44 minutes, which is relatively short for a three-set battle in the Round of 16. Li is doing a fantastic job of following up her impressive run to the Australian Open final. She had never been beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros, but she's now in the quarterfinals.
Li is coming off a recent loss to Kvitova on the clay courts of Madrid. Kvitova was dominant, only allowing Li four games in the semifinal match.
Major tournaments seem to bring the best tennis out of Li, who just made her fifth quarterfinal appearance in the last seven Grand Slams.
No. 4 seed Victoria Azarenka will be Li's next opponent. Azarenka has lost just 17 games in four matches, but she is 1-3 in her career against Li. The two have never met on clay.
Loser No. 1: Fabio Fognini
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A long four-set match followed by a treacherous five-setter was too much for Fabio Fognini's body to handle.
Fognini was forced to pull out of Paris with a small tear in his left thigh. This effectively moves Novak Djokovic into the semifinals at Roland Garros, moving him one match closer to his eighth straight title and third straight Grand Slam final.
The rest of the field can't be too thrilled with the idea of the razor-sharp Serbian moving through without having to put any miles on his legs. Fognini's withdrawal has caused some people to bash his decision to continue to play.
However, Fognini's quarterfinal appearance at a slam is the best of his career and the first by an Italian man at Roland Garros since 1995.
Loser No. 2: David Ferrer
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David Ferrer endured two days of Gael Monfils' athletic brand of tennis, but he was unable to prevail in the Round of 16 match at the French Open.
The stats for this match were virtually identical, with two of the game's finest athletes slugging it out for just over fours. In the end, Monfils was able to capture the deciding set, 8-6, in 73 minutes. The total points for the match ended with Monfils at 165 and Ferrer just behind at 164.
Both players served at 59 percent and threw in one double fault per set. The match basically could have gone in either direction.
The two faced off in the 2008 French Open quarterfinals, with Monfils coming out on top in four sets. Ferrer has reached the quarters at Roland Garros twice, with Monfils' best performance being his semifinal run in 2008.
Monfils is now 3-0 against Ferrer but no win has come easy. I consider Ferrer a loser because I considered him the favorite in this match because of the way he's been playing. His semifinal run at the Australian Open made me think he could do the same at Roland Garros.
Monfils is now faced with the person he lost to in the semifinals in 2008—Roger Federer. Monfils won the most recent meeting between the two players in 2010, after losing to Federer all five times before that.