FRENCH OPEN BUZZ – Courage, Belief and Pojd

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Photo from CNN

A TALE OF TWO GENDERS: While there are no winners of Grand Slams left in the woman’s draw, seven of the top eight men’s seeds still are in the running.

A TOURNAMENT WITH EMOTIONS: Petra Kvitova retuned. Steve Johnson played despite the untimely loss of his father. Juan Martin del Potro and Nick Kyrgios played despite the passing of their grandfathers. After Nicolas Almagro had to retire, Juan Martin del Potro poignantly comforted the Spaniard. 

T-SHIRT OF THE TOURNAMENT: Petra Kvitova’s T-shirt read, “Courage, Belief, Pojd”  which means “come on” in Czech.

IT’S ALL IN THE BLOOD: When asked why Romanians are such feisty competitors, Simona Halep said it’s in the blood.

WHAT’S MORE DAUNTING: Jo Konta facing a mean-spirited Romanian crowd during a recent Fed Cup tie, or Garbine Muguruza facing the French Open’s tough press corps after losing to France’s Kiki Mladenovic? Both were reduced to tears.

CAN TENNIS BRING FOLKS TOGETHER – THE TWO BEST TENNIS PLAYERS IN THE WORLD SPEAK OUT ON TROUBLING TIMES: When asked about the recent terrorist attacks in Britain and his upcoming plans to go to for Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic said, “It makes you question certain things. If we live in fear that’s not life…You kind of attract certain things…when you are living under stress and fear. So, if it’s a destiny for you to be somewhere in some place in a wrong time, it can happen to all of us. God forbid.”

Inside Tennis then noted that tennis touches so many cultures all over the world. So we wondered whether in some small way it can help bring people together.

Djokovic responded, “Nelson Mandela said that sport speaks a universal language that gives strength to the people and creates a union between people like nothing else in the world. If Nelson Mandela said that, then you can imagine the power and the influence of sport…Athletes in general represent a lot of those true values people can relate to. So that’s why people just generally identify with athletes and…[their values of] sacrifice, fair play, team spirit…[and a] never-give-up type of mindset…[the] work ethic and integrity.

“We are all competitors, but…firstly we are human beings. I could never have imagined that I could have that many followers and people who appreciate what I do. So I’m very grateful…I always try to remind myself where I came from and where I am at the moment.

“Alongside of playing tennis and trying to create a certain legacy .. I’m trying to be conscious of especially the young people, children who are looking up to you and following what you do and say…It’s not always possible to be in a perfect [in your] demeanor, but you always give your best…I always try to share as much as I can of that emotion and love, as well.

“So I see…to what extent sport has influenced people and how positively it is impacting their lives, and I’m just grateful to be in the position to be one of those athletes that can be part of that impact.”

For his part, Andy Murray noted the ability of tennis to bring people together is “one of the great things about tennis…I don’t know exactly how many different countries are represented here …but it’s a lot. [Note: players from 43 countries are in the men’s singles and 40 are in the women’s singles and there are a lot more in other events.] For sure, we all share, locker rooms together, practice courts together…For the most part, the players get on very well with each other…We get fantastic support everywhere we go. I do think sport, and tennis in particular because of its global nature, do bring lots of people together from many different places…I feel lucky that we get to travel around the world. It’s one of the best things about this line of work…From [when I was] 14, 15 years old I traveled. [I] have been to South America and the States. I played all around Europe…and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to do that otherwise.”

Murray then talked about the “One Love Manchester” concert, which honored the memories of the victims of the Manchester attack. He said, “It was pretty amazing. So many people there trying to have a good time in what’s obviously a very difficult time.

“Hopefully [we] can find a solution for it, because it’s been going on a long time. There has been problems everywhere. Obviously Paris has had its issues, as well. Hopefully can find some solutions.”

INTO WOMEN’S LIB AND MEN’S LOB: Andy Murray is said to be the leading feminist in tennis, or maybe in all of sports. We get it, he’s into women’s lib. But he’s also into lobs. He has the best in the men’s game. But Murray told IT that he never practices his lob or his dropshot. But he noted that, “it’s a shot that’s won me some big points. It’s a shot I like playing. It works well against all players. When you play against someone like Karlovic who comes to the net a lot, obviously a huge guy, but you get a lob over the head a couple of times, it makes them … play a little bit further away from the net, which then opens up more angles. And if you’re playing a shorter player … if you get a good lob it’s not easy for them to reach it. It’s a shot I like playing, and it’s won me a lot of big points. 

NOW LET US COMPARE THE NBA’S CLEVELAND CAVALIERS AND THE ATP’S DOMINIC TIEM: After twice being clobbered by the Warriors, the Cavaliers didn’t seem to have any clues on how to stop the Warriors juggernaut. After being destroyed recently in Rome by Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem said, “I don’t know how to play him.” The two face each other Tuesday.

SPEAKING OF THE CAVALIERS: When Lebron James multi-million dollar estate in L.A. was vandalized with the N-word, he noted that no matter how rich or famous or popular an African-Americans might be, he or she is still subject to racism. When asked about the incident, Venus Williams said “it’s sad that people are still wasting their energy on that. You would think that if you spend your energy building yourself and others up, then you could create a world you like, but that’s not always the case with everyone.”

AND NOW JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE HOOPLA ABOUT HOOPS: Djokovic’s possible meeting with Murray in the French Open semis is tennis’ answer basketball’s Trilogy – the long awaited meeting between the Warriors and the Cavaliers in the NBA finals.

BULLY ON YOU: Madison Keys is passionately pursing a campaign against cyber-bullying. She says that most of the awful comments she gets are because she’s lost people due to their gambling.

A BOY NAMED KAREN: On occasion Russian Karen Khachanov – who beat John Isner yesterday, but lost to Murray today – is asked why he has a woman’s name. John Isner joked that he was confused because his mother is named Karen. BTW: His named is pronounced “Kaa-ron.”

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