Malek Jaziri claimed his first match victory as a father as he posted a convincing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Germany’s Florian Mayer to reach the second round at the French Open on Tuesday.
The Arab No1, who welcomed his first child Malek, two weeks ago, appeared to have lost a lot of weight and looked fitter than he’s been in a long time, moving freely all over the court and successfully rushing the net when possible.
“I’m happy to have my first child 12 days ago, it’s more responsibility and more motivation,” the Tunisian said with a smile.
“I was feeling good on court today. Sure, clay is not my best surface but I try to enjoy playing on clay. Things are working right now.”
While clay may not be Jaziri’s preferred surface, the North African has a special and unusual connection with the French Open.
The aviator, Roland Georges Garros, the man the tournament was named after, gained fame for making the first non-stop flight across the Mediterranean Sea from Fréjus in the south of France to Bizerte, which is Jaziri’s hometown in Tunisia.
The site of where Garros landed is now named Place Roland Garros and has a statue of the pilot.
Jaziri’s season so far
After losing his first five matches of the season, the 32-year-old Jaziri turned things around to capture two Challenger titles in Guadalajara and Guadeloupe before making an impressive run to the quarter-finals on the clay of Barcelona last month.
His win on Tuesday was his sixth main draw win at a grand slam and he will try to reach the third round at a major for the second time in his career when he takes on No7 seed Tomas Berdych on Thursday.
“I’ve never played against him, only in practice,” said Jaziri.
“He’s a player with a lot of experience and is in the top-10. We’ll see, it’s a different match, it’s a good opportunity for me, I’m playing well, I feel good and we’ll see. I think I got some more experience from the last few years so this year I’m feeling better.”
The match is expected to take place on a bigger court, considering Berdych’s seeding, and Jaziri is relishing the opportunity to play in front of a big crowd.
“I like big courts too, that’s what we play for, to play on big courts,” he said.
Jaziri is expected to hit a new career-high ranking of around 60 after Roland Garros.
Bernard Tomic has backtracked from his comment about not caring about tennis because he’s “23 and worth $10million” and insists he does indeed care about the sport.
Nicknamed ‘Tomic the Tank Engine’ by Australian media, the world No22 has been accused multiple times of not trying hard enough during matches, with his most recent offence coming in a straight-sets loss to Fabio Fognini in Madrid in which he held the racquet by the head and swung the handle at the ball while returning, down match point.
He later told the media: “I don’t care about that match point. Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10million?”
Prompted to elaborate on those comments on Tuesday, after easing past Brian Baker 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a French Open second round against Borna Coric, Tomic said with a laugh: “I would love to say I have 10 million US, but maybe 10 million Australian.
“Yeah, I shouldn’t have said that, but that’s in the past. That was my fault. You got me there.
“I was just in that moment. I just said that and I was talking to my friends about some things, so it just sort of came out ‘I don’t really care’.”
He added sarcastically: “Maybe if I had 100 (million) that’s different.”
Asked if he actually cares, the Aussie responded: “Oh, yeah, of course. We all care. Do you care? Everyone cares. You have to make what you can. It’s like a job, so of course I look at as a chance.
“Yeah, sometimes I have my own way. For sure I have to be strong and compete. I’m at the best tournament in the world. All those things aside, I just focus on my goal here and to try to win as many matches as I can.”
Tomic acknowledged that he does have a certain reputation of not trying his hardest and he confessed that he needs to get tougher mentally.
“I think I have to learn to deal with it more and compete. I struggle mentally a lot, so that’s one area I need to improve,” said the 23-year-old.
“I have improved that a lot, especially in the years after my surgeries, coming back from where I was to reaching my career-high last year, this year, 16, 17.
“So I was one year ago, one and a half years ago 130 in the world. So for me, it’s been a big turnaround the last sort of 16 months. I have to get better. You’re not going to get to top-five, top-three in the world or 10 if you have all the time some distractions and stuff. Everyone knows I have a lot talent.
“Me, I don’t need to train much to be where I am, 30, 20 in the world. I always have the talent. If I want to get more in my career and life, I have to be 100 per cent in everything. You have to give 100 per cent all the time and compete all year. That’s been one of the things I’ve probably been struggling prior to this year, the past three, four years before that.”
We all know several players don’t particularly believe in the reliability of Hawk-
Eye and some have been more public about their feelings towards it more than others, with Roger Federer leading the critics of the technology many years ago.
Hawk-Eye, the technology that simulates the ball mark in order to aid umpires and players with calls, is not used on clay courts since the ball leaves a visible mark on the clay, which umpires can easily check.
Yesterday, Rafael Nadal both succinctly and hilariously mocked Hawk-Eye when he was asked if he thought it would be good if claycourt tournaments had Hawk-Eye available on their courts to which the Spaniard said with a serious face: “It wouldn’t be good, especially for Hawk-Eye.”
While he refused to elaborate, Nadal said he believed he made his point “loud and clear” meaning he believes Hawk-Eye on clay would demonstrate how unreliable the technology is, since the simulated image might never match the actual mark on the clay.
Don’t you just love straighttalking Rafa?
Meanwhile, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone received a standing ovation on Court Suzanne Lenglen after losing in straight sets to Kristina Mladenovic, which is usually a good thing. Except in this case, Roland Garros had mistakenly announced that the 35-year-old was retiring and the spectators thought this was her last match in Paris.
Talking to a packed press conference room later, the Italian explained: “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.
“When I finished, everybody stood up. I thought, ‘I don’t know if it’s respect’. I loved and appreciated the situation. But I think everybody thought this because Roland Garros announced it.”