FRENCH OPEN: Adoring Cinderella – The Shelby Report

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Photo by Eric Feferberg / AFP for Los Angeles Times

Paris

Bill Simons

ADORING CINDERELLA – THE SHELBY REPORT: During Melanie Oudin’s magical run at the 2009 US Open the starstruck teen went out and did a publicity shoot on Broadway. But Shelby Rogers is older – 23 – and seems grounded, though far ‘tearier.’ Then again, who isn’t, except former Speaker of the House John Boehner? Rogers says her parents, coach and boyfriend help keeps things in perspective. In particular, she is close to her older sister Sabra, a psychologist. Rogers does a lot journaling to keep the negative thinking out. This is the Carolinian’s 10th Slam. She usually has lost right away and has never gotten beyond the third round of a major. In a kind of healthy way, the smiley, teary blonde with a triple digit ranking says this is “new territory” – “outside my comfort zone.” But no worries – her ranking will shoot up and she’ll earn in one tournament at least half of what she’s earned in her whole career. Simply put, the best Cinderella story in American tennis in years – whom Mary Carillo simply referred to as “the kindest, sweetest person in the history of Western Civilization” – has become a sensation. And isn’t that what Americans adore?

COMPARATIVE CINDERELLAS 101: In her fabulous run to the Roland Garros quarterfinals, Shelby Rogers has beaten three “-ovas” and an “-ina” (Russian Elena Vesnina). As part of her magical 2009 US Open run, Melanie Oudin, who is also from the American South, beat three “-ovas” and an “-eva” (Elena Dementieva). Rogers has beaten four Eastern Europeans, including two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova. Oudin beat four Russians, including Maria Sharapova. Rogers will next face the considerable No. 8 seed, Timea Bacsinszky, who is Swiss, and thus Western European. But both her parents are from Hungary in Eastern Europe.

AND NOW A BRIEF NOTE ON SOGGY FRANCE: France is famous for the heroine Joan of Arc. Paris is famous for the impressive Arc de Triomphe. Roland Garros may soon be famous for calling in Noah’s Ark.

THE WIMBLEDON WORM THAT EXPLAINED IT ALL: The soggy French Open brings to mind the best rain commentary ever. At a particularly wet Wimbledon, Mary Carillo explained that there was a bad bounce because “a worm probably came up for air.”

THE ANDY MURRAY, GEORGE CARLIN CONNECTION AND ALL THAT STUFF: When Andy Murray came out on court with his usual array of bags and things, Roland Garros Radio’s Gigi Salmon noted, “It looks like he is going off for a weekend outing with all the stuff he has brought out on court.” The comment brought to mind the classic routine on “Stuff” by George Carlin. The late comic confided that,”I need a place for my stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house…That’s the whole meaning of life, is finding a place for your stuff. All your house is is a pile of stuff with a cover on it…All your house is is a place to keep your stuff in when you go out to get some more stuff.” Carlin noted that, “Other people’s stuff is s—. But your s— is stuff.”

GUESS WHO’S THE BOSS: A writer told Milos Raonic that with John McEnroe coming aboard his team, he would now have three coaches and that would be a lot of voices telling the chef how to cook. The Canadian responded with a hint of defiance, saying, “I am the CEO of Milos Raonic tennis.”

THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN: When rumors spread that he had passed away, Mark Twain famously said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” After it was said that Italy’s Francesca Schiavone had retired, the former French Open finalist said, “So Roland Garros announced my retirement, but I didn’t. So you can stand up all of you and go back to work in the office because I didn’t say that. I will announce when I will want to stop.”

JUST WONDERING: Is Serena’s massive, often timely serve, the best bailout, get-out-of-jail stroke in tennis history?…Is France’s Alize Cornet one of the great unsung divas in recent memory?

ONE HECK OF AN ORPHANAGE: A reporter reflecting on Nadal’s pull-out and Spain said, “The country is going to feel like an orphan.” But Spain’s David Ferrer, Roberto Bautista Agut and Alberto Ramos-Vinolas are still in the draw.

SWEET COMMUNICATION: Madison Keys said most of her texts with Shelby Rogers have three things – American flags, hearts and kissy faces.

NOVAK’S CONSISTENCY: If Novak Djokovic wins Tuesday against Roberto Bautista Agut, he will have reached his 28th straight Slam quarterfinal and will take sole occupancy of second place ahead of Jimmy Connors for the most consecutive quarterfinal appearances at Slams. Here’s a shock: Federer holds the record for most quarterfinal records in a row – 36.

QUOTEBOOK:

“If you come at the queen, you better not miss.” – Courtney Nguyen on how it’s vital to execute your groundstrokes when Serena is stuck at the net and seems like a dead duck.