EVER-CHANGING GAEL-FORCE WINDS: All together now, Gael Monfils (aka La Monf) is the best entertainer in tennis. Broadcaster Eleanor Preston said, “It’s hard keeping up with the Monfils way of doing things. With all the double faults and aces, you have no idea what’s coming next … The shots look amazing in Monfils’s head … but when it comes to executing them, they’re not quite there.” Last year at Roland Garros, after scoring a bizarre five-set win over Italian drama prince Fabio Fognini, Monfils was less than poetic and said, “You know, for me, it’s not about ups and downs. It’s more about saving my ass.” Today, after being down 1-4 in the fourth-set to Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, Monfils roared back to win 6-4, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, tying Harold Solomon‘s record of ten five-set wins at the French Open. Monfils will now play Federer. Fasten your seatbelts. The last time they met in a Slam, Roger scored an astonishing five-set win at the US Open. But Monfils has beaten the Swiss star twice in a row on clay.
A BACKHANDED FEDERERIAN COMPLIMENT: Roger Federer, the apostle of the one-handed backhand, used a two-handed backhand to win a point in the second round.
ANIMAL HOUSE: A bird got stuck in the cable of the webcam on Suzanne Lenglen Court … German Andrea Petkovic said, “I’m still not putting my expectations too high. I feel like a horse in [the starting gate] that wants to run out but I can’t because the stall is blocking me. I feel like I’m playing really, really well, but it’s just too dangerous yet to say anything.”
X-RATED EXPLANATION: After a Serena Williams expletive was picked up by an international radio broadcast, commentator Courtney Nguyen said, “That was Serena Williams expressing her dissatisfaction with her level of play.”
Of course, all hasn’t been grim for Serena at Roland Garros. When she ran back for a lob in the first round against Andrea Hlavackova and the ball clunked awkwardly against her body, the proud veteran broke down in howls of laughter. But after needing three sets to be world No.105 beating Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany, she said, “My level is 100 times better than I played today … if I [continue to] play like I did today, I definitely won’t win.” BTW: On Friday, three German women—Sabine Lisicki, Angelique Kerber and Annika Beck—all lost.
OPEN TERRITORY: With notable losses by top threats Simona Halep, Aga Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, and Angelique Kerber and longshots Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic, the women’s draw is far more open than the men’s.
REFLECTIONS ON THE LEVELS OF GULBIS’S HAPPINESS: Ernests Gulbis, who has been struggling mightily, contended, “I’m always in a decent mood. But the level of happiness I wish was bigger. This I can get through winning. How I can get wins is just basically putting my base work in … Practice is the only answer.”
GENIE’S MIXED SIGNALS: She looked miserable when she was knocked out of singles early in the week, but Genie Bouchard stuck around a few days longer in Paris to play mixed doubles. The Canadian It Girl suffered another loss, but reporter Stephanie Myles noted her demeanor was “California chill,” with “big smiles” at the beginning and end of the match. “The very notion of walking onto a tennis court and enjoying herself may have been just the tonic the 21-year-old from Montreal needed,” Myles wrote.
“I honestly believe that Venus Williams can win Wimbledon one more time.”—Mary Carillo
“Once this guy gets his forehand in play, he’s devastating.” Nick Lester, on Jack Sock.
“With Svetlana [Kuznetsova], we can play for hours and hours … we know each other’s games exactly … every time I play against her I ask, What can happen?”—Francesca Schiavone
“This is an EPIC meltdown even by Gulbisian standards.”—Ricky Dimon on Ernests Gulbis‘ loss to Nicolas Mahut.
GO FIGURE: Christopher Clarey noted that umpires choose the players they want to officiate more than players choose the umps.
WISE WORLD: There was a lot of experience out on court Thursday when Italian Francesca Schiavone, 34, who won the French Open in 2010, played Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 29-year-old Russian, who captured the title in 2009. After the Italian prevailed 6-7, 7-5, 10-8, she reflected on just what it took for her to win. “I don’t know how much magic [it was] and how much work and … [how much] belief it was in something that looks so far away, but is so close. I’m very happy to be here in the third round at Roland Garros.” BTW: There were 19 WTA players over 30 at this year’s Roland Garros, but there aren’t any players under 25 who have won a Slam.
TENNIS CHANNEL SHIFTS ITS FOCUS: Since 2008, Tennis Channel has shared US Open cable rights with ESPN2, broadcasting from the outer courts and airing some morning and middle-weekend night matches from Arthur Ashe Stadium. But Sport Video Group’s Mike Reynolds reports that the network has opted out of paying a sublicense fee for live coverage at this year’s Open. Instead, Tennis Channel will broadcast nightly wrap-ups and highlights of matches that have already aired elsewhere. Tennis Channel chairman/CEO Ken Solomon plans to redirect the funds towards coverage of Indian Wells, Miami and other calendar tournaments, and additional network features such as the streaming service Tennis Channel Plus.
THE FIX IS OUT? After a routine third-round win, nine-time Roland Garros champ Rafa Nadal was asked about recent match-fixing FIFA scandals by a reporter who assumed “there are no such things [corruption]” in tennis. “In the world of sport, the world of football, the world of tennis, politics … we need people who are fair and ready to work in a good way, being honest,” Rafa answered. “And if there [are] some people [who] are not being honest … then they don’t deserve to be where they are.”