Halfway through the French Open, the hosts are hard to come by, as are the Americans. But a certain Spaniard and Swiss Mister are still on course to meet in the final. And we get our Henin-Serena match, plus a resurgent Sharapova and a Serb in insurgence. All in all, a fine first week. Herewith, our midterm grades.
Federal: Top two men's seeds, through the first week without dropping a set, on track to meet in the finals. Roger Federer beat Mikhail Youzhny on Sunday, tying the men's record with 35 straight sets won in majors.
Maria Sharapova: For a player who came in injured (and never fond of clay), she's been an unexpected force.
Serbia: Djokovic + Jankovic + Ivanovic = New Tennis Power-ovic.
Filippo Volandri: "Fed-buster" becomes first Italian male to reach the fourth round in Paris since Garibaldi.
Tennis Channel: A few minor glitches, but overall, excellent coverage so far. And -- whether by design or reality -- nice to see the deserving non-Americans getting exposure.
Martina Navratilova: Always nice to hear a former player commentate like an objective and candid journalist and not simply a cheerleader. Another pleasant surprise: Chanda Rubin.
Somdev Devvarman of Virginia and Audra Cohen of Miami: Though the news was obscured by the Roland Garros action, these two former national runners-up both won NCAA singles tennis championships.
Gael Monfils: Loses to David Nalbandian in Round 3 but promosing career looks to be back on track with Tarik Banhabiles as his coach.
Lleyton Hewitt: Probably labored more than he'd like (and Nadal looms) but Aussie is still alive.
American women: Serena Williams is carrying the flag, but they acquitted themselves admirably in comparison to the men.
Mentally frail French: We sympathize with the pressure, but Amelie Mauresmo, Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu are too good to be losing this early.
American men: Even given the limbo bar standards set in recent history, this might me a new low.
Injured Russians: Anastasia Myskina, a former champ, and Nadia Petrova both limp to first-round defeats.
Mother Nature: Took five days before the first rain-free session.
Corporate crowds: The grounds are teeming with spectators. But when the patricians with the high-priced boxes fail to show up, some matches looked empty (and, therefore irrelevant) on television.