Born on Independence Day, Lives Actively & Family Focused

French Open Week Two Analysis From LA

June 2, 2015

For the first time in many years, I spent the French Open (FO) at home in LA with my three kids. ESPN shares the FO airtime with the Tennis Channel and NBC so we did not need the entire talent team in Paris. I am sure; Cliff Drysdale (also not in Paris) and I are the only two on the ESPN tennis team not to gain weight during the FO. I, in fact, have lost a couple of pounds. The best part of not being in Paris has been to enjoy time with my family.  Over the long Memorial Day weekend, we ventured down to Coronado with my Mom. We enjoyed one of the great California beaches complete with boogie boarding, kite flying, sand castle building, tennis playing, rock climbing, playing the board game Sorry, and best of all, enjoying three generations of family fun.

Anybody with three kids in school knows that this time of year yields non-stop details to successfully conclude another school year and finalize the hectic juggle of summer activities. My twins will graduate from 3rd grade on women’s quarterfinal day at the FO. I get to see if my oldest son’s co-ed soccer team can complete their season undefeated. He is the team’s goalie. I saw both of my sons play in a team tennis match yesterday and watched my daughter’s Broadway musical school production last Thursday. I am all caught up with the mail, bills and most emails; something that usually during a major tennis tournament, does not happen.

I have recorded and watched as much of the FO as possible, tried to be active following things on Twitter, but being a world away and not seeing it live is not the same as being there. I know at Wimbledon there will be a lot of FO results and insights that I won’t be as familiar with but hopefully only I will notice. What’s even more amazing for this unusual home-stretch is that Wimbledon starts one week later for the first time and finally after decades of players’ wanting more time to adjust from the grueling clay season to the short yet vital grass season, they will have that coveted extra time. This extra week allows me to start the summer with my kids.  My oldest son closes out his 10 and under USTA career (all of 6 months long) in June so I will get to enjoy his last tournaments before “aging up” to the 12 and unders.

Now for the FO results to date the pattern of the last few years continues with the men’s draw mostly holding form and the women’s draw, but for two of the top ten seeds, falls apart before the quarter finals. My pick on espn.com to win was Halep and that went down in a blazing heap of smoke early on. It’s way too easy to always pick Serena to win but at the French Open, it felt fine at the time to give the nod to Halep who almost won it last year. Serena now is a huge favorite to take her third FO title, and be halfway to the calendar year Grand Slam. I asked that question while still on air in Melbourne when we were awaiting Serena to visit our ESPN studio after beating Sharapova in a good Australian Open Final, will Serena win the Grand Slam this year? Why not! Serena has held all four majors at once back in a combo year of ‘02 and ‘03, but she would join Stephanie Graf, Margaret Court and Little Mo, Maureen Connolly as women to win the calendar year Grand Slam. After her 19th major singles win in Melbourne, I also said that she now surpasses Martina Navratilova as the greatest female tennis player of all time. Since I enjoyed playing doubles for ten years with Martina that was not any easy thing to concede. When you look at Serena’s outrageous win-loss record in major singles finals winning nineteen and losing just four!!!!  Plus she is 13-0 in major doubles finals with Venus as well as all the gold medals. She won her first major in 1999 and is still winning majors over fifteen years later. Longevity has long been one of my key factors before I crown anybody as the greatest ever. Serena is the greatest over 30 female player, and each week adds to her record of being the oldest player to hold the #1 ranking.

Bouchard continues to suffer an awful sophomore slump something that Sloane Stephens understands all too well. Madison Keys may also be feeling some of the same thing after her great run to the semis of Melbourne. I can relate as the year after I reached the finals of the US Open at 16 years of age beating Martina Navratilova in the semis, the next 12 months, I think I won three or four matches and suffered my first injury (shoulder). Just as Sloane is starting to show us, these talented young players will figure it out and head towards their highest ever ranking. It might take time…just look at Ana Ivanovic seven years after she won her only major at the FO then dropping outside the top 60 in the world. It is not a race, it’s a journey.

The men’s draw once again is out of this world. The Nadal vs. Djokovic quarterfinal will be the most hyped quarter final, since before social media days and the Agassi vs. Sampras US Open clash of 2001 that Sampras won in four tie break sets. Will Nadal march towards his tenth FO or will Novak become the third male player of this generation to hold the career Grand Slam joining Nadal and Federer. I never put a tennis match on my calendar but Wednesday I have Nadal vs. Djokovic on the schedule with post it notes as reminders….. not that I will forget to watch but I would like to watch it the old fashion way LIVE!!!

Ready, play!