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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Not everyone felt the love in Paris


This year's French Open will be remembered for the excellent play and emotional celebrations of its champions, Francesca Schiavone and Rafael Nadal. But before the rest of those two weeks in Paris fade in our minds, let's give a final grade to a few of its other performers, even if they'd rather forget them as soon as possible.

Roger Federer
Is this a blip or the beginning of the end? If it's the latter, the end may take awhile to reach. OK, Federer didn't make the semis of a Slam for the time since 2004. He made the quarters. At his worst major. And he fell to Robin Soderling, who had advanced to face Fed in the French final a year ago. That said, along with the 2009 U.S. Open final, this was the second time in three Slams that a younger, taller opponent overpowered him. The men's game isn't going to get shorter, or less powerful, anytime soon. Grade: B

Dinara Safina
She may just want to bail on this tournament next time. Safina followed up her memorable meltdown in last year's final with, if anything, an even more cringe-worthy opening-round collapse to 39-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm. Safina led by a break in each of the last two sets, but by the end she couldn't hit a ground stroke in the court. Her piercing eyes used to communicate determination; this time all you could see in them was a fierce vulnerability. Grade: D

Sam Querrey
He bolted town early, saying he was tired of competing and tired of the road. On the one hand, it's a little like going AWOL from your job -- you might be tempted, but you know it doesn't work like that. On the other hand, he can't be the first pro tennis player to feel that way. Credit him for honesty, if not tenacity. Grade: C-

Maria Sharapova
She lost to four-time champion Justine Henin after having her on the ropes in the third set. Still, the way Sharapova got there, by digging herself out of a deep early hole, was a feat of pure willpower. This might, maybe, could be, the tournament that makes her feel like a contender again. Grade: B+

Andy Roddick
No, Roddick's preparation wasn't ideal. He skipped Rome to go on a second honeymoon and then got sick in Madrid. But at this point, his issues on clay aren't going to be solved in one tournament. As his loss to Teimuraz Gabashvili showed, his strokes aren't constructed for today's power-dirtball game. It's a weird thing to say for a guy known for his power, but he doesn't swing big enough. Grade: B-

Victoria Azarenka
It took Azarenka longer to wear down last year; she didn't hit bottom until the U.S. Open. This season it came with an early drubbing by Gisela Dulko at the French. You might blame injuries or overzealous scheduling, but the biggest problem for Azarenka in this match was one that will be harder to solve: her forehand. She couldn't find the court with it. Grade: D

Jurgen Melzer
The aging Austrian was the tournament's bearded Cinderella. He pummeled David Ferrer, survived Novak Djokovic, and gave Nadal his only (minor) scare of the tournament in the third set of their semifinal. It took a decade, but Melzer finally put two of the finest shots in pro tennis -- his two-handed backhand drive and his drop shot from the same side -- to good use. He'd make an interesting addition to the upper echelon of the game, but I'm not counting on seeing him scale these heights again. Grade: A