Friday, 13 February 2009

Is French Tennis Back?

It wasn't all that long ago when Amelie Mauresmo was at the top spot fighting desperately to keep it that way against Justine Henin, but a year or so on Henin has retired and Mauresmo is out of the Top 20! Though you wouldn't say that period was the best of French tennis, at least it provided a French No.1. Since then French tennis looked on a downturn with Richard Gasquet continuing to under perform and Tatiana Golovin's injury woes it looked like France was on the back foot. Tsonga brought a lease of live to French tennis in January 2008 but that eventually dwindled until later in the season.
A year on it looks like French tennis is regaining its momentum; though I wouldn't suggest a No.1 will emerge from the current crop I do think French tennis is beginning to pick up. On the mens side Gilles Simon leads the feisty 4 of Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Simon himself. Gilles has the quiet confidence about him; though nothing like Federer he does seem to exude the same aura about him. If Simon was Federer, Gael Monfils would be Nadal simply due to his muscular physique; I've cheered him on since his early days and finally he is showing his prowess. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga will therefore have to fill in the Djokovic role, though I don't know much about Tsonga he seems to me to be slightly cheeky but determined and feisty. Richard Gasquet will be the Andy Roddick; someone that is constantly trying to break away from the pressure by their home nations. Note: non of the above comparisons are linked to the players tennis styles!
The reason why I posted this was because I read that 4 French players made the QF's of Paris, though I'd never say any would make the No.1 spot in their careers, the female players seem to be on the rise. Amazingly Alize Cornet is leading this bunch of french players whilst Marion Bartoli is close behind with Amelie Mauresmo lagging slightly behind. Though to be honest I doubt any of the French players would make the semis in Paris besides maybe Amelie Mauresmo because they are simply against players in a different league to them. Serena and Elena are likely to thrash their opponents whilst Jelena will probably have to fight harder than she would like to. However Amelie may beat Agnieszka I put a 60-70% chance on that, the only problem is that Amelie seems to lose momentum against Top 10 players nowadays.
Whilst I'm on the topic I think the WTA tour is gaining strength slowly after the shock exit of Justine Henin, 2008 was an awful year with nobody really making a claim to the throne, Serena was still playing minimal tennis, Maria Sharapova had gone, Ana Ivanovic is (as I read on a website) scared of her own shadow leaving Jelena to pull through, though I do have to say it gave room for some of the most unexpected players to rise to the top echelons of the game - Elena Dementieva fighting stronger despite her age and Dinara Safina finally breaking away from her brother's shadow. The only memory I have of 2008 is really the downturns or rises in many players careers, if you look at the changes in the rankings it looks like the tour has done away with the cover girls of tennis and instead brought in the stronger built machines (no offense intended). I miss Sharapova, 2 years ago you would have heard me giving negative opinions about her but now without Sharapova or Henin or even Vaidisova I'm left to pray that Serena and Flavia's careers will be long and fruitful.

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