Every once in a while we come across some good news out of Russia, which we are only too pleased to report in order to break the monotony of relentless failure and decline that might otherwise lead to bleak depression. So it is with pleasure that we make note that both of the singles juniors champions at this year’s French Open tournament at Roland Garros in Paris were Russians. Darya Kasatkina took the girl’s title and the interestingly named Andrei Rublev took the boy’s title. The “other” Andrei Rublev was, you may know, the most famous painter of religious icons in Russian history.
Kasatkina’s victory was the more impressive, since she gutted out a tough three-set match against the number one tournament seed. Kasatkina was seeded #8, and lost the first set in a close tiebreaker but came back to win the next two.
Rublev was expected to win his match against a lower-seeded opponent and decisively did so in straight sets.
The icing on this cake for Russia was that Maria Sharapova collected her second French Open title in the ladies’ main draw. Although Sharapova’s victory was rather hollow since she did not have to face any of the four best players in the world ( Serena Williams, Li Na, Agnieska Radwanska or Victoria Azarenka) in order to take the title and treated fans to her usual festival of unforced errors compensated for by dumb luck (to say nothing of her intolerable shrieking), Sharapova did gut out a tough three-set match in the finals against the world #4 (albeit a player who had never before appeared in a grand-slam final). It’ wasn’t pretty, though. She struck more double faults and many more unforced errors in the finals than in any prior round. She had 52 unforced errors and 12 double faults in the finals match alone, 211 total unforced errors and 43 total double faults in the tournament, and her diminutive finals opponent broke the giant Russian’s serve seven times.
So we say “formidable!” and “felicitations!” to Russian tennis fans for their multiple triumphs on the red clay! Hopefully they will take inspiration from these victories to consider the possibility that Russia may be capable of something better than Vladimir Putin.