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Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS

(French Open – First Week)

Kristina Mladenovic beat fourth-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza 6-1 3-6 6-3

Pablo Carreno Busta beat fifth-seeded Milos Raonic 4-6 7-6 (2) 6-7 (6) 6-4 8-6

Ons Jabeur beat sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 6-3

Hsieh Su-Wei beat seventh-seeded Johanna Konta 1-6 7-6 (2) 6-4

Caroline Wozniacki beat eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 4-6 6-2

Fernando Verdasco beat ninth-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2

Alizé Cornet beat ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-1

Timea Bacsinszky beat 10th-seeded Venus Williams 5-7 6-2 6-1

 

SAYING

“I enjoyed. I suffered, but I enjoyed. And of course, if you win, you enjoy more.” – Pablo Carreno Busta, following his victory over Milos Raonic.

“I had a lot of times where I was controlling the point and had short forehands that I wasn’t very efficient with and just let him stick around in those moments. Then he started to believe a lot.” – Milos Raonic, after losing to Pablo Carreno Busta.

“I was tight before the match. During the match I was also tense, more tight than in the previous games. But I stuck to my game plan till the end of the match, and when I’m focused on my game at the end of the day, I managed to produce good tennis despite lots of emotions.” – Alizé Cornet, after upsetting ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

“I’m just happy that the clay is over. I’m really happy to play on grass and it doesn’t matter what the results are.” – Agnieszka Radwanska.

“Twenty years ago? Wow. I’ll be honest, there won’t be 20 more. I will be watching in 20 years with all of you guys.” – Venus Williams, when reminded that she had played in her first French Open 20 years ago.

“Life goes on, it’s not a tragedy. In Rome I played fantastic, I won the tournament. Here I played bad, I lost first round. That’s the way it goes.” – Alexander Zverev, after being upset by Fernando Verdasco in a first-round match.

“It feels like history, of course. But me, I like to just stay focused on the victory so I can continue to make history even more. For me, it’s not over. It’s the beginning of my dream.”—Ons Jabeur, after becoming the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was a disputed match. I lost confidence, and my opponent of course was on home turf, so it created a lot of tension. So of course I’m sad. It’s a very painful defeat here in the French Open.” – Garbiñe Muguruza, after losing to Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.

“I do it on my own time, I do it on my own dime, my own money. I don’t want anything, I don’t need anything, I want to help him.” – Andre Agassi, on his coaching Novak Djokovic.

“I don’t want to say something that is not true, or yes, but I’m going to say no.” – Francesca Schiavone, who now is not so sure that this will be her last year on the tour.

“I just expect a little more respect.” – Laurent Loki, a French wild card on why he refused to shake hands with Martin Klizan after their match.

“If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.” – Maly Thomas, a Eurosport television announcer who repeatedly rebuffed French Open qualifier Maxime Hamou’s attempts to kiss her.

“No, I hate sometimes tennis. Is a big relationship. Is a love that you have to love and then you hate sometimes. It’s like when you marry someone.” – Francesca Schiavone, when asked if she has always loved tennis as much as it appears she does now.

“At UCLA we got two people at our matches. And they were donors.” – Jennifer Brady, who led Kristina Mladenovic 3-0 in the final set on Philippe Chatrier Court, Roland Garros’ main stadium, before losing the first-round match 3-6 6-3 9-7.

“I was super tired, so I was excited to let that racquet go and just be done with the match.” – Brienne Minor, a University of Michigan sophomore after tossing her racquet into the air when she won the NCAA women’s singles championship.

 

STOPS SPANIARD

It hasn’t been pretty, but the first week has been perfect for Kristina Mladenovic. Seeded 13th at the year’s second Grand Slam tournament, Mladenovic knocked off the defending champion to move into the second week as she bids to become the first French woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win at Roland Garros. “It’s not perfect, there are little problems, but I fight as I can,” Mladenovic told the cheering Stadium Philippe Chatrier crowd. “I served 35 doubles, but it’s good because you give me so much strength.” In her fourth-round 6-1 3-6 6-3 win over Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, Mladenovic had 16 double faults, bringing her first-week total to 40. Muguruza replied with a bevy of unforced errors as Mladenovic raced through the opening set. The Spaniard tightened up her game in the second set before Mladenovic took control again.  “I was a bit nervous and I got more and more nervous,” Muguruza admitted. “I could not find my game, but I did not do anything wrong It came from her; she was playing well.”

 

SUPPORT TOO MUCH?

Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain said the Roland Garros crowd was disrespectful as it cheered on Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic to victory. “I think the audience was really tough today,” Muguruza said after losing. “I can’t really understand. I don’t know how to explain. If you had been in my shoes on the court, I think you would have understood. I don’t know what people were expecting. I’d rather not say anything more.” A French woman has not won a French Open singles titles since Mary Pierce in 2000. During the fourth-round match, the crowd cheered, “Kiki, Kiki,” their nickname for Mladenovic. After she won, Mladenovic told the crowd, “I love you, too.”

 

SWEPT AWAY

Milos Raonic pounded out 25 aces in his fourth-round encounter with clay-court specialist Pablo Carreno Busta. The fifth-seeded Canadian also committed 84 unforced errors to tumble out of the French Open. It was Carreno Busta’s first win over a Top 10 player. “It’s difficult to explain my emotions at the end of the match,” Carreno Busta said. “It was the best victory of my career. Maybe one of the best moments. This match, you dream of when you are young, playing Roland Garros, five sets, four and a half hours. It was really tough, really tough. But I just tried to do my best.” The 25-year-old Spaniard wasted three match points at 5-4 and another two at 7-6 before finally cashing in on his seventh match point.

 

STOPS BRYANS

Sam Groth of Australia and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt are the latest in a growing list of partners who have stopped the Bryan brothers from adding to their records. Groth and Lindstedt stopped the American twins 7-6 (4) 6-3 in a second-round collision. Bob and Mike Bryan have won a record 16 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles, but none since the 2014 US Open. Since then they have reached three major finals, including the past two French Open title matches, but have now lost before the fourth round in four of their last 10 Grand Slam tournament appearances.

 

STUNNER

Fresh off a victory over Novak Djokovic and a clay court title, 20-year-old Alexander Zverev was seen as a potential French Open champion. Maybe next year. The young German was a first-round casualty of Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, 13 years his senior. Verdasco won 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 as Zverev committed 50 unforced errors and the ire of the crowd when he hammered his racquet into submission. “Maybe it was my experience,” said Verdasco, who is playing in his 14th Roland Garros and 56th consecutive major. “You have to be ready emotionally and physically because it can be a long match.”

 

SLIDES INTO TARP

David Goffin’s French Open ended when he injured his right ankle by tripping on a tarp during his third-round match. Seeded 10th, Goffin was serving for the first set against Horacio Zeballos when he raced to his left to reach a deep shot. The Belgian’s momentum carried his sliding right foot into the edge of tarp on Court Suzanne Lenglen. “He had an MRI and the news is reassuring,” said Goffin’s coach, Thierry van Cleemput. “There is no tearing of the ligaments and no bone that’s been broken, either. For the time being, we’re optimistic.”

 

SOME HISTORY

With two victories on the red clay of Paris, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia has made history. Her 6-4 6-3 upset of sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova meant Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam tournament. She celebrated her win by waving a Tunisian flag. Selima Sfar, a retired Tunisian player, mentor to Jabeur and the only Arab woman to be ranked in the Top 100, said Jabeur’s victory was emotional to her. “Tears came straight to my eyes,” Sfar said. “In a way, I feel like Ons gave meaning to whatever sacrifices I made, or difficult times I had through my journey to make it happen.” In 2011, Jabeur became the first North African woman to win a Grand Slam tournament title of any kind when she captured the junior girls crown. She has represented Tunisia at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, yet understands what being a role model means. “When I win, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I represent the Arab world,’” Jabeur said. “When I lose, I try to be just Ons Jabeur.”

Because the French Open occurs during Ramadan, a month when Muslims cannot eat or drink liquids, including water, from dawn until sunset, Jabeur is allowed to change her calendar. “Unfortunately, I cannot do the Ramadan,” the 20-year-old said. “I’m an athlete. I have to drink and I have to feed myself. … I’m actually going to catch up later by actually doing Ramadan. It’s like a credit system. I’m going to eat for several days because I’m at a tournament, but I will catch up because I will have a credit with God and, hopefully, God will forgive me. So, if I eat for two weeks, well, then I will have to do another two weeks of fasting.”

 

SWAYING

Will she, or won’t she. After announcing earlier this year that 2017 would be her last season on the tour, Francesco Schiavone is now not so certain. “You never know,” the 2010 French Open champion said. “For the moment, I want to live this moment, this year. I have to see how I feel physically. It’s not easy to wake up and run again for six hours and push yourself. But we will see. I think after the US Open I will ask to myself what I want to do.”

 

STADIUM GRANDE

Because her opponent, Kristina Mladenovic, is French, Jennifer Brady played her first-round match on 14,840-seat Court Philippe Chatrier, the main stadium at Roland Garros. “It makes you feel like an ant,” Brady said of the huge venue. “I don’t think I ever played in an atmosphere like that. When she would win a point, it was like somebody had a microphone into my ear. But it didn’t really affect me that much. I really enjoyed it. I embraced it, and it was a lot of fun.” The 22-year-old American led 3-0 in the third set before losing 3-6 6-3 9-7.

 

SINO STAR

Hsieh Su-Wei proved to be too much for Great Britain’s Johanna Konta. The Taiwanese player went to spins and slices, changing direction, speeds and weight of shot to bounce her seventh-seeded opponent from the clay-court Grand Slam event. Konta began as if it would be a quick day, blasting through the opening set 6-1. But Hsieh, hitting double-fisted groundstrokes off both sides, took away the rhythm and forced Konta to hit her replies wide or long. Perhaps fittingly, it was a netted forehand that ended Konta’s stay in Paris. “Thank you for my team,” Hsieh told the crowd. “Merci beaucoup for the match today.”

 

SECOND WEEK

The French crowds have two players to cheer on in the second week of the women’s singles. Besides Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet also won all her first-week matches at Roland Garros, including a 6-2 6-1 upset of ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska. It was only her second career win over the Pole, who had seven of their eight previous meetings going into the French Open. Radwanska had skipped two clay-court events – Madrid and Rome – because of a right foot injury. Cornet won by using Radwanska-type techniques: drop shot, volleys and passes. The Frenchwoman hit high-bouncing forehands with plenty of topspin, pushing Radwanska behind the baseline. Then, whenever Radwanska ventured to the net, Cornet found a passing lane. “On clay court it’s working unbelievably well,” Cornet said of her drop shot. “On the three previous matches, I used it a lot, and even more today because I saw she was standing a little bit far from the baseline and I was feeling – I mean, I had a great hand today with the drop shot.”

 

STUTTGART START

Roger Federer is ready to return. The Swiss star skipped the entire clay season but will begin his Wimbledon grass-court preparation at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, which begins June 14. Federer took six months off at the end of last year to let his injuries heal, then began this season’s campaign by winning the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami – all hard-court events. Besides Stuttgart, Federer will play the grass-court tournament in Halle, German, before the year’s third Grand Slam tournament.

 

SNUBS OPPONENT

The post-match handshake at the net is as much a part of a tennis match as the racquet and ball. Tell that to Laurent Lokoli. The Frenchman lost 7-6 (4) 6-3 4-6 0-6 6-4 to Martin Klizan of Slovakia. The winner went to the net with his right hand extended. Lokoli waved him off with the back of his hand and instead went to the sideline and packed up his belongings. Lokoli claimed he wasn’t being a sore loser, but rather that he didn’t want to shake hands because he felt Klizan was faking an injury during the match. “I just have (a) problem with his attitude,” Lokoli said, “because he wasn’t fair. That’s it.”

 

SMACKDOWN

The French Tennis Federation (FTT) revoked the French Open tournament credential of qualifier Maxime Hamou after the Frenchman tried forcefully to kiss a television reporter during an interview. The 21-year-old Hamou repeatedly tried to kiss Eurosport’s Maly Thomas, who tried to duck and pull away from the player as held her by the neck at one point. In revoking Hamou’s credential, the FTT called the incident “reprehensible” and said it would investigate the case “for improper conduct.”

 

SWITCHING BACK?

Because he wants to play in the Olympics, Aljaz Bedene is considering switching his nationality back to his birth nation Slovenia. According to International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, Bedene cannot represent Britain in the Olympics because he previously played Davis Cup for Slovenia. He gained British citizenship in 2015, but the ITF refused his request to play Davis Cup for Britain. “That (Olympics) is a dream for every athlete,” Bedene said. “At the moment I’m representing Great Britain, but I do want to play at the Olympic Games. I don’t know what the rules are, really. I haven’t checked. I guess that means playing the Davis Cup for them (Slovenia) as well.”

 

SAD NEWS

Journalist Frank Deford is dead at the age of 78. A writer for Sports Illustrated and commentator for National Public Radio died at his home in Key West, Florida, USA. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Deford with a medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, honoring him “for transforming how we think about sports. He also was named to the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Deford is survived by his wife, Carol, and two adult children, Christian and Scarlet.

 

SURFING

Paris: www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

Prostejov: www.czech-open.cz

Marseille: www.openfeminindemarseille.com

Surbiton: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/aegon-trophy-series

Bol: http://bolopen.com/en/welcome/

Manchester: www.lta.org.uk/aegonmanchestertrophy

Stuttgart: http://www.mercedescup.de

‘s-Hertogenbosch: http://ricoh-open.nl/

Nottingham: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/aegon-open-nottingham/

Caltanissetta: www.tennisclubcaltanissetta.it/

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

MEN

French Open, Paris, France, clay (second week)

$142,187 Unicredit Czech Open, Prostejov, Czech Republic, clay

$142,187 Aegon Surbiton Trophy, Surbiton, Great Britain, grass

 

WOMEN

French Open, Paris, France, clay (second week)

$115,000 Bol Open, Bol, Croatia, clay

$100,000 Open Féminin de Marseille Trophée les Terrasses du Port, Marseille, France, clay

$100,000 Aegon Surbiton Trophy, Surbiton, Great Britain, grass

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

$791,814 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, grass

$744,890 Ricoh Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, grass

$143,253 Aegon Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass

$143,253 Citta Di Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, Italy, clay

 

WOMEN

$226,750 Ricoh Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, grass

$226,750 Aegon Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass

$100,000 Aegon Manchester Trophy, Manchester, Great Britain, grass

 

Kristina Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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