'What About the Soul of Roland Garros?'

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IS TIME OF THE ESSENCE?: What does it say about the luxury Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille’s products when its newest endorsee, Rafal Nadal, shows up nearly an hour late to announce his sponsorship deal in Paris?  (BTW: the Majorcan was showing off a special, limited-edition timepiece, only 50 of which will hit the market. The price tag?  About $535,000 each.  Says Nadal, “For me nothing changes. Wearing such a special watch is a pleasure, but it won’t change me.”)

INTO THIN AIR: In conversation with Matt Cronin, Andre Agassi likened a best-of-five-sets match with Nadal on clay to “climbing Mt. Everest with bad weather.”

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO WASH-AND-WEAR?: Serena Williams says she brings seven Nike outfits to the Slams for her singles matches.  “I just wear them once, like everything else,” she said.  “I only wear things once.”

WISHFUL THINKING?: Of the Americans’ chances at Roland Garros, John Isner (who won his first-round match against Andrey Golubev 6-4, 6-3, 6-2) opined, “I think three, four, five people even have the ability of making it to the second week.”

THE HEART AND SOUL OF IT: Regarding the possibility that the French Open might pick up an move from its current home on the western edge of Paris, ’09 champ Roger Federer said, “What about the soul of Roland Garros? This is what we might miss after. So let’s think twice before we act.”

IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION: Venus Williams says her motif this year is “illusion.”

THE NUMBERS

71: Games played by American qualifier Michael Yani and Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in the first round.  Lacko eventually won 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 12-10 in a 4-hour, 56-minute match that stretched over two days. The 71 games equal the most games in a singles match at RG since tiebreakers were instituted in 1973.  “Ridiculous,” said Yani. “I’ve never gotten to a fifth set before, so, I mean, that was pretty cool.  I’m not going to lie…I wish I could have closed it out.”

QUOTEBOOK

“Negativity enters the press room very quickly for some reason, even with me. You think you’ve proven yourself so many times, and you can’t lose your best game in three weeks. It just doesn’t happen to a tennis player.” — Roger Federer

“Last year, I got asked a lot of questions about why I wasn’t doing as well in the Slams.  It’s all well and good winning the Masters Series, but the Slams are what’s important. This year, the one Slam I played, I played very, very well — the best tennis of my life.” — Andy Murray, who rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit against Frenchman Richard Gasquet at Roland Garros to win 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1

“I think I’m probably one of the least prepared players in the draw.” — Jelena Dokic, who lost to Lucie Safarova in the first round 6-2, 6-2

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