Saturday, May 21, 2011

News from the French, part V


Del Potro fit for the French
To the delight of tennis fans around the world, Juan Martin Del Potro has confirmed that he will be able to take part in this year's French Open. The 2009 US Open champion injured his hip at Madrid and was forced to pull out of last week's ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, but on Tuesday night his Twitter account featured the glad tidings: "See you in Paris!" The rangy Argentinean will be seeded No.26 for the tournament. The news was less encouraging from Andy Roddick's camp however after he was forced to withdraw from the Rome doubles final due to a build-up of fluid on the shoulder. The big-serving American also pulled out of this week's Open de Nice Côte d'Azur in the south of France.

Maria is here
Fresh from her success on the clay of Rome, Maria Sharapova is now in situ at Roland Garros and enjoyed a hit-out on centre court on Wednesday morning. The Russian, who was sporting a t-shirt that was brightly coloured to say the least, had a short but intensive session and looked in good physical shape, despite having to stretch out her right leg every so often. French seeds Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon also trained on Wednesday, with "Gilou" enjoying a knock-up with Roger Federer during the afternoon, with the Swiss 2009 French Open champion opting for Suzanne Lenglen court after already testing out Chatrier. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters meanwhile are still to come to the stadium.

Extra dry
Paris has not had a drop of rain for a good month and a half now, and the sun was beating down again on Wednesday, to the delight of the spectators attending the qualifiers. The weather forecast between now and the end of the week calls for more of the same, and temperatures could soar even higher at the weekend - to the chagrin of some but tennis fans will not be complaining!

Chakvetadze out
Russia's Anna Chakvetadze has been forced to pull out of the tournament due to illness, with her place in the main draw taken by Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.

Men qualifiers: Bogomolov doing it the hard way
The top seed in the men's qualifiers is certainly taking what can only be described as a circuitous route the main draw. After being taken to a 9-7 third set on Monday, Alex Bogomolov Jr. again had to go the distance on Wednesday, this time overcoming experienced South African Rik de Voest 6-0, 1-6, 6-4. The Moscow-born American, known to his friends as Bogie, defeated none other than Andy Murray in the second round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami two months ago, but up until then the 28-year-old was best known for being the ex-husband of WTA player-turned-Playboy model Ashley Harkleroad. He will now face Steve Darcis of Belgium for a spot in the main draw.

After defeating his American namesake Alex in the first round, Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov overcame no.4 seed Illya Marchenko in the second and is now one step away from the main draw, while perhaps the most prestigious match-up of the day saw top-ranked Canadian Frank Dancevic defeat Edouardo Schwank, the Javier (brother of David) Nalbandian-coached Argentinean who made the third round here three years ago and was no.48 in the world less than a year ago.

Women's qualifiers: Pivovarova with a point to prove
Anastasia Pivovarova is already looking well set to do justice to her no.1 seeding in the women's qualifying tournament. The Russian is currently ranked no.95 in the world and easily disposed of Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-4.
The public came out in force on Wednesday with plenty of youngsters enjoying an afternoon off school, but unfortunately the home players failed to live up to expectations (details to follow), although Claire Feuerstein was the exception to the rule, making it through to the second round. There was disappointment as well for Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito, who made it through to a third-round tie on Chatrier against Aravane Rezaï two years ago but has struggled since then. Poland's Urszula Radwanska, the no.18 seed and sister of world no.12 Agnieszka Radwanska, was also knocked out, by Luxembourg's Mandy Minella who has played club tennis in France for the past decade.

McEnroe hails the Djoker
John McEnroe, a man rarely inclined to praise any of the modern generation of players, nevertheless seems to be quite impressed with one Novak Djokovic. The Serb has won his first 37 ATP tour matches of the year and has Johnny Mac's all-time record of 42 - set in 1984 - in his sights. "The competition is much stiffer that it was in my day," the legendary lefty said. The players are fitter and more of them are capable of winning tournaments than you had back in my day. What Djokovic is achieving at the moment is incredible, his confidence is sky-high." Nole will have to make it to the final of Roland Garros if he is to beat McEnroe's record, something that the former world no.1 would "very much like to see. Almost all of the records I set have been broken, and that's the way it goes in tennis."

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