Finals weekend at the French Open 2015: Illness, Trophies, and Confusion

The final weekend of the French Open is upon us. However, a significant wrench has been thrown in to things from a scheduling standpoint. The two players in tomorrow’s ladies final match have no clue when they will take the court, and here’s why.

The 2nd men’s singles semifinal between (1) Novak Djokovic and (3) Andy Murray will resume tomorrow at 7 a.m. ET with Djokovic leading 6-3 6-3 5-7 3-3. A 3 hour 32 minute first semifinal, the threat of bad weather, and the lack of a roof and/or lights at the French Open led to this unenviable position. Djokovic shocked everyone with the way he dismantled 9 time French Open champ Rafael Nadal in quarterfinals on Wednesday. He continued that other worldly level of play through the first two sets against Murray. However, the Brit did a great job of digging in and turned the match around with more aggressive returns. He managed to steal the third set and stay level in the fourth before play was halted. The feat is especially impressive when you consider that once he dropped the first 2 sets, Murray had to know that if he was able to turn the match around, they would have to finish tomorrow. If you are familiar with tennis scoring, you know that this match was stopped at a point where it could take 10 minutes to finish, or 2 hours. This strikes me as the kind of match that Djokovic wraps up quickly tomorrow, or Murray turns in to an epic battle. You have to wonder how much Djokovic has left in the emotional tank. Between what he was able to pull off Wednesday and playing for the career Grand Slam, (this is the only major he has not won) it is a fair question to ask.

One man who hopes this match turns in to a long battle is the big hitting Swiss man (8) Stan Wawrinka who is through the final after a 4 set win today. He has found his game out of nowhere after a so-so lead up to the French Open. His most impressive scalp of the week by far was a straight sets win over his friend and countryman Roger Federer, who was also my pick to win the event. Wawrinka will be an underdog in Sunday’s final, no matter who he faces, but should not be taken lightly at all. While the Swiss finalist hopes for a long battle in the other men’s semi, the participants in tomorrow’s ladies final hope for the exact opposite. They will not take the court until the men’s match finishes. Here’s a look at the final.

(1) Serena Williams vs. (13) Lucie Safarova

Head to head- Williams leads 8-0

The match will begin on NBC when the men’s match concludes. The network that will carry the conclusion of the Murray/Djokovic match is NBC Sports Network.

These two ladies are in completely different spots in their careers. This is Serena’s 24th major final and she is chasing her 20th major. Safarova, despite being a veteran, is in her first career major final. Moreover, they have had vastly different but equally surprising paths to this championship match. Safarova is in the midst of a dream week. She has not dropped a set on her way to this stage. Her road to the final includes upset wins over grand slam champions (2) Maria Sharapova and (7) Ana Ivanovic. Additionally, the Czech is in the women’s doubles final with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Safarova has gotten here by being precise in the area of locating her lefty serve and controlling points with her big forehand. She will need to do a lot more of this to have a chance at shocking Serena.

Serena has dropped the first set a mind-boggling 4 times in 6 matches at this tournament. She has looked sluggish and downright disinterested at times. However, each time, she has been able to flip the proverbial switch in a nick of time and find that level no other woman can match. In the later rounds, the big serving American has had to deal with a flulike illness that is claimed several players this week, including Sharapova and 4 seed Petra Kvitova. She had to be helped off the court after her semifinal win. The illness remained severe enough that Williams canceled her pre final practice today. If Serena can finish the job, this will be among the more impressive of her grand slam victories, simply because nothing has come easy. Safarova is helped by a few things here. She has spent much less time on court this week than Serena, even when you add in her doubles, she is the healthier of the two, and she is a lefty. There aren’t many lefties around at the moment. Sometimes it takes players a while to adjust. Does the underdog have a chance? Absolutely. Am I gutsy enough to call it? No way.

Prediction: Williams in 3 sets

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