RG day 8 diary and highlights: Muguruza's emotional and revealing press conference

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Tough day: For Muguruza.

On an emotionally-fuelled day at Roland Garros, Garbine Muguruza broke down in tears during her post-loss press conference and Pablo Carreno Busta cried his way through his on-court interview with Eurosport after his five-set win over Milos Raonic.

The two Spaniards were experiencing feelings on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum, but both tearful incidents were equally moving.

It is often difficult to read Muguruza but her press conference at Roland Garros on Sunday allowed us for a few moments to get a look at the real person inside of her. Not because she cried, but because she came back in the room and took on whatever was coming her way.

She was overcome by emotion before she even heard the reporter’s question about Mladenovic screaming ‘forza’ to celebrate Muguruza’s unforced errors. It was obvious she was barely holding it together from the start of the press conference.

And after leaving the room briefly to collect herself, she came back and answered every question thrown at her.

The reporter told her he didn’t want to upset her with the same question, giving her an out. But Muguruza wouldn’t take it.

“Go for it, we’re here in the good and the bad, so go for it,” she said with a straight face. Muguruza then responded with a sarcastic quip about Mladenovic being able to speak “25 languages”.

It reminded me of why she’s a Grand Slam champion. Between the setbacks and the nerves and the inconsistent form, Muguruza is confrontational, a fighter, an aggressor…

In Spanish, veteran tennis journalist Neus Yerro asked her what was most painful – the loss, the feelings it evoked, or what exactly?

Muguruza almost broke down again and could only say one word: “Derrota (The loss).”

Still she continued.

When Muguruza was walking off the court following her defeat to Mladenovic, she wagged her finger at the crowd, sending a message that what they did on Sunday was not acceptable to her.

The Spaniard felt the pro-Mladenovic crowd crossed a line, but she also said she understands that they were rooting for their home player. Still, it must have been hard for her to go from being adored one year as the Roland Garros champion, then heckled the next year for facing a Frenchwoman. The contrast must feel unsettling.

“I think the crowd today was a little bit obviously tough for me. I understand,” said the 23-year-old.

“I just think that they were a little bit, sometimes should be a little bit more respectful, even though for the game, because we had to, you know, stop. The chair umpire has to always calm the crowd down. I’m not here to create enemies. I mean, I love playing here. Is not a good feeling, so…”

Muguruza’s coach Sam Sumyk is French and he branded the crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday as “pathetic”.

Ultimately, players react to pressure in different ways. For Muguruza, being the defending champion in Paris and spending a whole year being the French Open title holder weighed down on her. While she is hurt by the loss on Sunday, she seems relieved that phase is finally over.

“It’s gonna sound weird, but I’m actually happy that this stage kind of the year is done, because I wanted to go as far as possible. But even if I didn’t, I think I’m going to feel much better now to continue the year, and everybody is going to stop bothering me asking me about this tournament, so it’s going to be a little bit like, ‘Whew, let’s keep going’” she said on Sunday.


For Carreno Busta, his breakthrough win over Raonic – his first top-10 victory that took him into his first Grand Slam quarter-final – has given him confidence ahead of his next monumental task against Rafael Nadal.

He isn’t shying away from what is essentially the toughest test in tennis today – facing an in-form Nadal on clay at Roland Garros.

“Of course I believed a lot in my possibilities today. I believed a lot in my possibilities in the last match. I believe a lot in my possibilities in the next match,” the 25-year-old Spaniard said confidently.

Referring to his emotions after a brutal four-hour 17-minute battle with Raonic, he said: “It’s difficult to explain to you my emotions at the end of the match. It was the best victory of my career. Maybe in one of the best moments and of the best places.

“This match that you dream when you are young, playing Roland Garros, five sets, four hours and a half. It was really tough, really tough. But I just try to do my best.

“I enjoyed. I suffer, but I enjoyed. And of course if you win, you enjoy more.”

Stats of the day

6 — top-five wins Mladenovic now owns against seven losses.

11 — Roland Garros quarter-finals Nadal and Djokovic have now made to join Roger Federer at the top of the list for most Roland Garros quarter-finals reached in the Open Era.

20 — wins and just three losses Nadal now has against Spaniards across all Grand Slams.

20 — games lost by Rafael Nadal in four rounds, just one more than his best of 19 at the same stage in 2012.

21 — and 21 days, Khachanov is the youngest man to reach the last-16 at Roland Garros since Marin Cilic made the fourth in Paris aged 20 years 252 days in 2009.

23 — years since two Frenchwomen had last reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. The French are now guaranteed two women in the last-eight after Kristina Mladenovic beat Garbine Muguruza and with one of Alize Cornet or Caroline Garcia also advancing.

25 — years after Petr Korda reached the French Open final, son Sebastian made his junior debut on Sunday beating sixth seed Marko Miladinovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

48 — consecutive service games Roland Garros fourth debutant Karen Khachanov has held.

84 — unforced errors from Milos Raonic in his fourth round loss to Carreno Busta against 92 winners.

Quotes of the day


“I think she speaks like 25 languages, I heard, so…”
— Garbine Muguruza throws shade at Kristina Mladenovic when asked if she was annoyed by the Frenchwoman celebrating her unforced errors by yelling ‘forza’.

“When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again.”
— World No290 Petra Martic after making the fourth round having missed 10 months of action due to a back injury.

“When she said that I was known for that sort of thing on the circuit, really? I think we should ask other players if that’s what they think. I hate calling the physiotherapist onto the court.”
— Timea Bacsinszky recalls gamesmanship accusations made by Mladenovic towards her during Fed Cup earlier this year.

“Of course everyone knows Swiss cheese is so much better than French cheese, and that Gruyere cheese does not have holes. You call it Emmental. You are imposters. Gruyere is a place in Switzerland with a castle there. It’s a region. In the Canton of Fribourg. It’s a very pretty place.”
— Swiss player Bacsinszky’s idea of trash talk ahead of her quarter-final against France’s Mladenovic.

“I mean, if we live in fear, you know, that’s not life. I also believe that you kind of attract, you know, certain things that when you are, you know, living under stress and fear of everything.”
— Novak Djokovic when asked if he is worried about his and his family’s safety at Wimbledon in light of the latest attacks in London.

Upset of the day

Considering he was 0-16 against top-10 players entering that match, this would have to go to Carreno Busta, who beat fifth-seeded Raonic 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (8), 6-4, 8-6.

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Rafael Nadal blasts Carlos Ramos: This umpire is trying to look for my faults

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Trouble with time: Nadal.

Rafael Nadal blasted French Open umpire Carlos Ramos on Sunday for treating him like a “machine” and suggested he was being unfairly targeted in an effort to speed up play.

Nadal reached an Open Era record-equalling 11th Roland Garros quarter-final with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Spanish compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.

But his joy at matching Roger Federer’s mark for last-eight appearances in Paris was overshadowed by an astonishing broadside at Ramos.

The umpire had warned the 31-year-old in the first set for slow play and again in the third before deciding to dock Nadal a first serve.

“If you want to play well, you have to let players breathe a little. We’re not machines that cannot think. That’s my viewpoint,” said Nadal, who repeatedly falls foul of the rule which stipulates a maximum 25 seconds between points.

“What else can I say? I’m telling you this with some sadness, because I don’t want to have any problems. But this umpire is, I think, trying, in a certain way, to look for my faults, my errors.”

The 14-time major winner believes that some umpires are stricter than others who may afford a player more leeway especially in the red-hot atmosphere of a Grand Slam.

“Theoretically the umpires are here to analyze the match and they are not here to use the stopwatch, otherwise we should have a stopwatch on the court,” added Nadal, warming to his theme.

“That’s the whole point. Some dictate things or give their calls in a certain way. Other umpires have different styles.”

Despite a career-long habit of over-stepping the time allowance – a situation not helped by his idiosyncratic plucking at his shorts and smoothing of his eyebrows – Nadal insisted he will not change.

“I told him that he will have to give me many warnings, because if I have not yet grabbed my towel, that he’s going to give me a warning,” he added.

Vanquished opponent Bautista Agut backed Nadal in his spat with Ramos.

“Rafa and I need to play a lot of points. We need to run around a lot. Having the pressure of the umpires is something we don’t really need,” said the 29-year-old. “I don’t think I really agree with that rule.”

The fall-out with Ramos meant that Nadal’s smooth progress to the last eight became a sideshow.

He has dropped just 20 games in four rounds so far, just one more than he lost at the same stage in 2012, as he attempts to become the first player to win the same Slam 10 times.

Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta who stunned fifth-seeded Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-4, 8-6.

Carreno Busta, the 20th seed, will be playing in his first Slam quarter-final at the age of 25. But he did it the hard way, needing seven match points to seal victory over the Canadian after 4hr 17min on Court One.

*From AFP

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Roland Garros day 7 diary and highlights: Why Del Potro is so popular

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The Juan that they love: Del Potro.

“It took me five years, three surgeries in my wrist to come back, five years to come back and live these exceptional moments once again. So it was very emotional.”

Those were Juan Martin del Potro’s words in his final press conference of the 2017 French Open after he bid adieu to the tournament with a straight-sets third round loss to Andy Murray on Saturday.

Playing his first Roland Garros since 2012, Del Potro walked off Court Philippe Chatrier to a roaring standing ovation – one the notoriously tough French crowd wouldn’t give to just anyone.

Whether he’s hugging a line judge mid-match, smoking a thunderous forehand winner past his opponent, shimmying on his bench to ‘Despacito’, crying on an Olympic podium, or comforting a devastated opponent through an injury-forced retirement, Del Potro has captured the hearts of tennis fans the world over and it’s hard to think of one player that is as universally loved as the tall Argentine.

While many stars of the game have legions of fans, Del Potro’s popularity transcends the typical idea of tennis fandom. You don’t just admire his game, you want to be his friend. He is relatable in his simplicity, and inspirational in his resilience.

If millions love Roger Federer for his portrayed image of perfection, millions love Del Potro for all his imperfections.

He doesn’t hide behind excuses and isn’t trying to gain anyone’s sympathy – even though he has it anyway.

“I need to improve my backhand. Andy is one of the smartest guys on the circuit, and he knew what my weak point was,” he said frankly on Saturday.

No embellishment, no nonsense.

The tennis court is full of exaggerated reactions. The fist pumps, the screams, the racquet smashes, the falling down to one’s knees… We all choose to buy it, enjoy it, and go along with it.

When Del Potro stood motionless hanging his head over the net after squandering a break lead and set points to lose an 84-minute first set to Murray, we all felt it – that deep frustration and disbelief.

Del Potro may have one of the scariest forehands in tennis, but his greatest weapon is arguably his ability to convey genuine emotion. That’s what it comes down to. That’s why it’s very hard to root against him.

A journalist asked him on Saturday how he can explain his popularity. “You seem to be this cool guy,” said the reporter.

“I just try to be myself all the time,” he replied. “I think all the people like my story, you know. I have been out for a long time. I’m trying to fix my wrist problem, and I never give up from that problems. Of course, everybody knows how my backhand is, if you compare with the old Del Potro. I’m running a lot during the whole matches.

“And I think that’s what the people like from me. I try just to be myself. I like to be cool on tour, as well,” he added with a smile. “But that’s me.”

Murray noted before their match that Del Potro has had some tough draws this season, bumping into the top guys early on at almost every tournament. I asked Del Potro how hard or easy it is for him to accept this kind of draws until he manages to get his ranking up.

He said: “I’m not having lucky with the draws, but if I want to change that, I need to improve my ranking, is the only solutions to get better draws.

“But this could take more time at least if I’m playing good tennis. Also, last year I made finals at the Olympics. Then I won the Davis Cup, and I don’t get any points for that. But I need to play better on the ATP Tour, trying to get more points and keep going up in the ranking.”

You wonder when his luck will finally turn.

The final point of that brutal first set against Murray warranted umpire Carlos Bernardes to leave his chair and go check the sideline to see if Del Potro’s shot was indeed out. Del Potro looked pleadingly, hoping it was in. Bernardes got the line judge to help him check it as well. They both called it out.

Is Del Potro convinced it was the right call?

“Yeah, yeah. The ball was out,” he said with an ironic smile.

He made us all laugh, despite it being one of his most frustrating moments. Classic, DelPo!

Rain suspended most of the matches on day 7, so here are quick highlights from the little action we saw on Saturday at Roland Garros…

Point of the day


Stats of the day

1 — The match between Kei Nishikori and Chung Hyeon is the first Roland Garros third round between two Asian players.

3 — times Simona Halep has now made the Roland Garros fourth round in eight appearances.

8 — times Murray has now reach the fourth round at Roland Garros in 10 appearances.

14 — players aged 30 or over have reached the third round in the men’s draw.

100 — match wins on clay Marin Cilic now has.

Quotes of the day

“His grunt, it’s a very manly, like a very manly grunt.”
— Andy Murray’s analysis of his third round match went as far as him describing Del Potro’s grunt

“I don’t know why I was doing it. Why does it matter? What’s the big deal? I don’t get it. If I say something and you guys ask me what I was saying, if I say nothing, you ask me why I don’t say anything (smiling). What do you want me to do? What do you want me to say? It’s irrelevant.”
— Murray is officially fed up of answering questions about the minute details of his on-court behaviour. We don’t blame him…

“I remember I got a question when I lost I think to Zvonareva, at the time she was 2. How does it feel to have a disappointing loss to someone who is lower ranked than you? I was, like, she’s No2 in the world. It’s not like I lost to someone who is bad.”
— Caroline Wozniacki recalls the pressures she felt when she was No1 in the world.

(Potential) Upset of the day

Chung.

Chung.

The match hasn’t finished yet but rain suspended play with 67th-ranked Chung Hyeon launching a decent comeback against world No9 Kei Nishikori. After losing the first two sets, Chung was rallying back and the match stopped with the score locked at 5-7, 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-0. It would be a massive upset if Chung can pull this off.

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