The 2012 French Open is now past the halfway point and the quarterfinal brackets are set on both the men's and women's sides of the draw.
Despite double-digit entries in women's singles, it has long since been decided that no French woman would repeat Mary Pierce's feat of 2000 and win on her home court (Sloane Stephens beat Mathilde Johansson back in the third round to finish those hopes). Realistically, once #8 Marion Bartoli lost to Petra Martic, the women's slim chances at a title were done. Without Virginie Razzano's victory over Serena Williams in the first round, the ladies' efforts would have been largely forgettable.
There remains, however, a bit of mystique on the men's side. How much hope for the French is debatable, though, considering that their last chance in singles is embodied by the same man that said France's men had zero chance of keeping the Roland Garros title at home: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Richard Gasquet's loss to Andy Murray and Tsonga's win over Stanislas Wawrinka mean France's hopes officially rest in the player that irked many last month by saying, "Let's be clear, there is no chance that a French(man will) win Roland Garros."
Yannick Noah was among those that didn't hold Tsonga's comments in very high regard, responding, "The worst thing is not even dreaming of victory." Noah, of course, is the last French man to keep the singles title from leaving France, winning back in 1983. In the 28 years since that time, men from the United States have won four French Open championships, Rafael Nadal has six by himself, and Spain as a country has 11 titles. The length of time since France has won, added to the fact that Tsonga spoke directly before Roland Garros began, seemed to add to the sense of national outrage.
Now, however, Tsonga has a chance to see all forgiven; the ability to laugh off his remarks (which he later clarified) as reverse psychology. The pathway, if he is able to travel it, will be extremely difficult. Consider that, including Tsonga, all of the top seeds through #6 remain. The way the draw was set up, there has always been the thought that if Tsonga made it to the quarterfinals, he would face world #1 Novak Djokovic for the right to move on to the semis. That match has materialized, and will take place on Tuesday. Waiting for the winner is a match against either Roger Federer or Juan Martin Del Potro, and, of course Nadal, Murray, David Ferrer, and Nicolas Almagro are lurking on the other side.
The author grew up watching McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, Evert and other players whose skill made it impossible not to become a fan of the sport.
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