Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:45 pm

French Open Finals - A Disappointment

The French Open Finals were quite the disappointment in both the mens and womens side, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the performance of Roger Federer was fantastic and kudos to him for finally breaking through his French Open woes to tie Pete Sampras. I'm not going to knock on the quality of the players so much as the quality of the actual matches. 

I'm going to start over on the women's side with Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova. This is the third grand slam final that Safina has made it to, and once again does not even show up for the final match, going down 6-4, 6-2. The match culminated on match point where Safina double-faults the title away. Now I'm not trying to take anything away from Kuznetsova, who had a great tournament, but as the world's number one player, the least you can do is win a set in a Grand Slam Final. In last year's French Open she was beaten by Ana Ivanovic (6-4, 6-3) and in this year's Australian Open she was beaten by Serena Williams (6-0, 6-3). We all know she can play, and she certainly proved it during the tournament, dropping only 5 games in her first 5 matches, but when it comes to pressure situations with a title on the line, she has just folded. The sad part to me is that by reaching the final, she maintains her number one ranking. I find this "sad" because I think she could use some time away from that ranking. Usually when players are knocked off of that pedestal they tend to find themselves and don't get complacent, as well as relieves some of that pressure of being on the top.

The men's match was pretty much what the matchup said it would be. Soderling was a real nice story throughout the Open, only reaching as far as the third round in any other Grand Slam event prior to this. He just really didn't have an answer for Federer's game, falling 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 in the final. While this win was a feel-good story for Federer, it wasn't really a test by any means. In Federer's previous two matches against Haas and Del Potro, he had to come from behind in both matches and play his best tennis just to advance. His comeback against Tommy Haas was one of Federer's greatest performances that I've seen in recent time. How much better of a story would it have been for Roger Federer to come into Roland Garros and take the crown away from Rafael Nadal in the final? How great of a match could that have been? Whoever would have won, history would have been made. If Federer wins, he overcomes his French Open woes, he finally beats Nadal on clay on the biggest stage, and ties Pete Sampras for 14 Grand Slam titles. If Nadal wins, he becomes the first player ever to win 5 straight French Open titles, and his win streak on clay lives on. It was just not meant to be. Don't take anything away from Roger- I just think that this story, while great, could have been even greater.

The good news? Only 14 days until Wimbledon.

Posted on: June 1, 2009 2:15 am

LeBron lost this series? I don't think so.

After a day to think about what I had just seen, and a day of ESPN trying to paint the picture in our heads, I was trying to decide how the Cavaliers actually lost that series to the Magic. The thing about that series is that it was completely possible for the Magic to win 4-1 if LeBron didn't make that sick shot at the buzzer in Game 2. ESPN and a bunch of newspaper columnists seem to think that LeBron lost that series because he didn't take over the game enough throughout the series. Does that constitute "losing the series" for the team? I'm not so sure.

I'm going to say that the Cavaliers' defense lost that series for them. The Magic were averaging over 100 points per game, and in the playoffs if you're going to have success you can't have that. Defense wins championships, not individual efforts. And lets face it, the Magic are a darn good basketball team. Think about what you have to defend when you are playing the Magic. You can play straight up man and run the risk of Dwight Howard imposing his will against your big guys in the paint. Alright, so to combat this you double Howard in the post. What does he do? He kicks it out and they pass it around to the open man who drains the 3-pointer. The Magic have shown in the playoffs a terrific ability to shoot from beyond the arc, and cetainly in pressure situations. Turkoglu has shot about 15 percentage points BETTER on the road than at home from behind the line. All you can do is hope that they have a poor shooting night.

That's your best-case-scenario. The Cavaliers, however, didn't commit to playing defense whatsoever in Game 6. Too many plays I saw easy looks at the basket. Too many bad fouls in the paint. How can your best defending big guy come out of the came 1:30 in with two fouls? Now I have to say that 24 points is hardly LeBron's best offensive effort, especially against Howard's 40, but when the team comes out with a lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball you can't blame one player in-particular.

So in conclusion, LeBron James alone did not lose this series for the Cavaliers, the defense did. However, LeBron James did not win this series for the Cavaliers. That is the difference between LeBron and MJ.

Quick Hits:
- I want to salute the efforts of Robin Soderling in his match today at the French Open, taking down world number 1 Rafael Nadal on his "home court" at Roland Garros. What a fantastic exhibition of tennis and an absolutely overpowering game today. We always wondered what it would take to de-throne the once-undefeated Nadal on clay, and especially at the Open, and today we witnessed it. Even though his 31-match win streak at the French Open is finished, we all have to take a step back and think about what we have witnessed over the past four years. This kid comes in and wins not only 31 matches in a row, but his FIRST 31 matches at the French Open before actually losing one. And better yet, until today he had never dropped 2 sets in one of those matches. He still has not played a 5-set match at the French Open. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back at Wimbledon, but one thing is for sure: We are in the midst of two of the greatest tennis players to live in their prime: Nadal and Federer.

- Watch for the Red Wings to take the Stanley Cup Finals in 5 games. They are far and away the best team in the NHL this year, and their dominant play so far has backed them up.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com