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McCarvel: The True Tipping Point?

For the next two weeks, wtatennis.com contributors Courtney Nguyen and Nick McCarvel will bring us some daily flavor from the French Open. Check in every day for more from Paris...

Published May 29, 2014 12:12

McCarvel: The True Tipping Point?
Taylor Townsend

PARIS, France - Looking back in a few years at when things shifted, when it all changed from one generation to the next, we might view these few days at Roland Garros as the true tipping point.

Sure, it's a bit of a hyperbolic statement, but why not? It's been two days of hyperbolic results in Paris: Garbiñe Muguruza. Kristina Mladenovic. Anna Schmiedlova. Taylor Townsend.

For the last two years, their names have been thrown around with the likes of Sloane Stephens, Laura Robson and Eugenie Bouchard. In order for "generation next" to become "generation now," days like these past few in Paris have to happen, and beating big opponents on bigger courts only make the challenge harder - and real.

"At some point not everyone that's 27 or over 30 years old is going to be playing," said Maria Sharapova, herself just 17 when she won Wimbledon 10 years ago. "Ultimately that generation and those girls are the ones who are going to be holding Grand Slam trophies. That's the reality of it."

It was sure like reality when Mladenovic, 21, shocked an out-of-sorts Li Na on Tuesday. Then 18-year-old Townsend stunned home favorite Alizé Cornet. And Schmiedlova, 19, beat Venus Williams in three sets on Court Philippe Chatrier. There was even the much-talked-about Ajla Tomljanovic, who downed a seasoned opponent in Elena Vesnina, the No.31 seed.

But Muguruza is this pack's leader for now. Her third round opponent? Fellow youngster Schmiedlova. It's a match that was supposed to be an all-Williams affair.

"She said that if I continue playing like this, I can win the tournament," a bright-eyed Muguruza explained of her exchange with Serena, the defending champ, at the net. "I said, 'I will try, I will try.'"

Try, try to understand this: Muguruza is just the fifth player at the age of 20 or younger to beat Serena at a Slam, joining a list of recognizable names with Sloane, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis and Venus Williams.

Should Townsend, the American, advance to the fourth round, she'll be the youngest American to make it there since 1998. That player? You guessed it: Serena Williams.

"These are the moments and these are the times I dream about," Townsend said, having carried her tennis bag into the main media room inside Chatrier. "As a professional athlete and a young athlete, these are the times that I have been wishing that would come and I'm just really happy I took advantage of my opportunity today."

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