Withdrawals, breaking news and indiscretions... the latest from Roland Garros.
Sunday, June 8
The return of Borg Björn Borg, six-time winner at Roland Garros, will be on centre court to present the trophy to the winner of a final between Rafaël Nadal and Roger Federer. If the Spaniard wins, it will be his fourth consecutive victory in
Victory lap for Byrnes Champion Ana Ivanovic was promised by her trainer Scott Byrnes that he would run round the Arc de Triomphe if she won Roland Garros. The Serbian queen has fulfilled her part of the bargain and now Ivanovic “can’t wait” for Byrnes to keep his.
Do you speak Spanish? If it's Roger Federer who wins the French grand slam, he will be the first non-Hispanic player to win the tournament since 2001. Before the immovable Nadal, custodian of the cup for the last three years, Argentine Gaston Gaudio and two Spanish players Juan Carlose Ferrero and Alberto Costa had given a distinctly Hispanic flavour to victory on the French courts.
Saturday, June 7
Three-peat. For the third time in a row, the Swiss player Roger Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal will face each other in the final. Among the major tournaments on clay, only Wimbledon has seen such a three-peat — Stefan Edberg versus Boris Becker, 1988 to 1990.
"Totally immature". Mats Wilander called Novak Djokovic's play in his losing semi-final match against Rafael Nadal "totally immature". For the former French Open titleholder, the Serb's approach to the match was "stupid" and showed his youth.
Women's mismatches? For the last seven years, the woman's title winner has managed to subdue her opponent in two sets. If that weren't dull enough, on average, the loser has won only five games in the final.
Friday, June 6
Monfils takes on Swiss titan. France’s first French Open semi-finalist since 2001 has faced Switzerland’s world number one three times so far – without ever taking a set.
Yellow ball, white ball. As he prepares to face the mighty Federer, Monfils is chilling out. According to French daily Le Parisien, the 21-year-old was spotted playing golf in the nearby Bois de Boulogne with his father Ruffin, a childhood friend and his acupuncturist.
Can Federer stumble? So far this season, the world number one has lost seven matches, falling twice to Rafael Nadal (Monte-Carlo, Hamburg) and once to Novak Djokovic (Australian Open), Andy Murray (Dubai), Mardy Fish (Indian Wells), Andy Roddick (Miami), Nicolai Davydenko (Estoril) and Radek Stepanek (Rome). Could Gaël Monfils add to the list?
Thursday, June 5
Monfils’s battle. By making it to the semi-finals at the French Open, 59th-ranked Gaël Monfils has become only the ninth Frenchman to get so far in the Paris tournament. He joins the ranks of Georges Goven, Patrick Proisy, François Jauffret, Christophe Roger-Vasselin, Henri Leconte, Cédric Pioline, Sébastien Grosjean and Yannick Noah.
Women’s day. The second Thursday of the tournament is by tradition the day for the women’s semi-finals. The first match is an all-Russian faceoff between Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Next up are two Serbs, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. On Women’s day, female spectators are given a white rose as they enter the stadium.
Wednesday, June 4
No visa for Jankovic’s trainer. Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic qualified for the French Open semi-finals after travelling a round trip to Serbia. After her game on Sunday, she returned home to visit her trainer, who did not have a visa to come to Paris.
Happy birthday “Rafa”. Spain’s French Open title-holder Rafael Nadal celebrated his 22nd birthday with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win over his fellow countryman Nicolas Almargo. Confident for what will happen in his 23rd year, he told journalists after the game he could play “better than he did today”.
Tuesday, June 3
A way with words. “Well done. Good play,” read the tersely written text message from Marat Safin to her little sister Dinara Safin after her win over the world number one, Russia’s Maria Sharapova.
Kanepi marks Estonian tennis history. Kaia Kanepi is the first Estonian player ever to reach the women’s final eight in the French Open. She will face Russia’s fourth-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a semi-final ticket.
Monday, June 2
The outsider. “I think the contest is between three players. They proved to be a class above the rest”. Spaniard David Ferrer, fourth-highest ranking player still in the tournament, admits he has little chance of disrupting the progress of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
The secret. “We lived some crazy experiences, but I won’t tell you which….”. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic remembers the times he shared during three years with his training partner and next opponent, Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis.
Sunday, June 1
The Fab five. Jeremy Chardy, Michael Llodra, Julien Benneteau, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Gaël Monfils are the five French players who reached the last 16. No French squad has numbered as many representatives at this stage of the tournament since 1971.
Where are the Americans? For the first time since 1968, not a single US player has reached the women’s last 16.
Saturday, May 31
Llodra is a fan of PSG. At the end of his victorious match against the Italian Simone Bolleli, the Frenchman Michaël Llodra swapped his T-shirt for a Paris-Saint German jersey to the great pleasure of Parisian footballer Jérôme Rothen, watching from the stands. Maybe Llodra is hoping that like the football team, he’ll stay in the competition?
French women out. There are no French women players left in the tournament, following the elimination of Alizé Cornet on Friday. This is turning out to the worst year for French women’s tennis since 1996. For the last 12 years, a French woman has made it at least to the third round each year.
Football, not tennis. “His thing is football video games.” Rafaël Nadal’s uncle and trainer explained how his protégé spends his free time — he doesn’t play video games about tennis.
Odesnik too slow? Wayne Odesnik lost his temper after the set point of the second set against Novak Djokovic. The reason? The world’s third-ranked player apparently took an interminable time before serving. The Serbian explains that this preparation, during which he bounces the ball for a long time, helps him concentrate. It’s a habit that he “should be able to break”, he concedes.
Friday, May 30
Busy Nadal. Because of rain delays at the beginning of the week, Spaniard Rafael Nadal plays on Friday for the fourth day in a row.
Justine Henin’s former coach to train Anna Chakvetadze. Flemish-language newspapers Het Nieuwsblad et De Standaard reveal that Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze will train with Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin’s former coach. Chakvetadze, ranked sixth in the world, has performed poorly since the beginning of the year, losing 15 games to only six won.
Thursday, May 29
Serena tackles Sharapova. "I help tennis, not her," Serena Williams is quoted in the Italian daily sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport world, referring to the world number one Maria Sharapova’s attitude during the Rome tournament. The Russian player complained about photographers' numerous requests. Williams accused Sharapova of not promoting the women’s circuit enough.
Mauresmo in hell. "She’s the kind of player who avoids taking risks. She hits the ball one metre over the net, one metre in front of the line, it’s hell! " French tennis player Pauline Parmentier, eliminated in the first round by Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, said of the style of fellow French player Amelie Mauresmo’s next opponent, according to l’Equipe.fr, the Web site of the French daily sports paper L’Equipe.
Wednesday, May 28
Busy day. Because of the rain delay, 74 first- and second-round games of the men's and women's tournaments are scheduled on Wednesday.
Three months for Tsonga. “If everything goes all right, it will take three months for Jo.” Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s coach hints in the French daily sports newspaper L’Equipe that the French player will not be back at his top level for Wimbledon.
Tuesday, May 27
Rain. 16 games of the men’s and women’s tournaments scheduled for Monday were delayed because of rain.
Record for Santoro. French tennis player Fabrice Santoro, 35, takes part in the French Open for a record 19th time. He first appeared on the Paris courts in 1989 at the age of 16.
Monday, May 26
Federer and Jankovic overcome hiccups to make progress. World top-ranked Roger Federer beat American Sam Querrey, while the world number three, Jelena Jankovic, beat Monica Niculescu. Jankovic is now ready to fill the gap left by the retired queen of the clay, Justine Henin.
Consolation prize. French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who withdrew from the French Open over a knee injury, is finally getting a piece of good news. Thanks to the semi-final at the Casablanca tournament in Morocco, the formerly 15th-ranked world player, is now ranked 11th.
French Open goes green. During the tournament, a carbon footprint will be recorded and the Open will target energy use. Th initative also includes recycling bins and recyclable packaging for its products, while hybrid cars are available for rent, and bike parking is available for the public.
Sunday, May 25
Kuerten back in Paris. On the programme is the long-awaited match between Paul-Henri Mathieu and the Brazilian veteran Gustavo Kuerten. Kuerten, who has won the French Open three times (1997, 2000, 2001), is playing in his last tournament.
Opener. Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will have the honour of playing in the opening match on the central court, Philippe-Chatrier at 11 am.
Saturday, May 24
Tsonga out. French Tennis star Jo-Wilried Tsonga announced that he would not be able to play in the tournament because he will undergo knee surgery to repair damage from an old injury that has resurfaced.
Memories. 25 years after his French Open victory, Yannick Noah hit a few balls on a river barge with his 1983 opponent, Mats Wilander, yesterday.
Friday, May 23
Sébastien Grosjean withdraws. The player from Marseille suffers from a shoulder injury and has dropped out of the tournament. But he sticks with Gustavo Kuerten in the doubles. “My presence will be more symbolic than anything else,” he commented.
Gustavo Kuerten hoping for a miracle. The Brazilian holds a wild card and can play in a last tournament before his forecasted retirement. He will meet the Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round. “I don’t know how the crowds will react. Paul-Henri is famous here and it would be a miracle if the fans are on my side,” he declared.
The doubtful Frenchmen. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga “is disgusted”. After injuring his knee in April, the player is suffering once again. He will be in Paris on Saturday for medical tests, and the Australian Open finalist is not sure to play at the French Open this year. Likewise, Gaël Monfils suffers from a groin injury, but it seems it will not prevent him from playing this year.
Thursday, May 22
The anniversary. On June 5, Yannick Noah, the last French player to win the French Open, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his title. He’ll face the finalist he beat in 1983, the Swedish player Mats Wilander, in an exhibition game in Paris on May 23.
Serena, Act 2. “When my career in tennis is over, I will spend my time acting,” said Serena Williams in Thursday’s edition of the French daily sports paper L’Equipe, commenting on her latest TV and film roles.
Wednesday, May 21
Murray’s low expectations. Scottish player Andy Murray, the 11th seed, said in an interview that the French Open is probably not the Grand Slam title he will "win first”. “Getting through to the second week would be a great result," he added.
Three women down. Former world number one Lindsay Davenport will not play at Roland Garros this year. The US player, aged 31, said she had personal reasons not to compete. Davenport reached the last four at the 1998 French Open. Two other American players, Meghann Shaugnessy et Meilen Tu, also withdrew.
Tuesday, May 20
Last Roland Garros for Kuerten. The Brazilian tennis player Gustavo Kuerten, aged 31, announced in early 2008 that he would quit the professional circuit after this year’s edition of the Parisian tournament. The French Federation chose to treat the player, who has won the French Open three times, by giving him a wild card allowing him to skip the qualifying round.
Clean tennis. There will be systematic dope testing before the last 16 games.
Date created : 2008-06-08