French Open diary: Bouchard has ‘no friends’ on Tour and Murray backs Miami Heat

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Head down: Eugenie Bouchard celebrates with the trophy after winning the Nuernberger Versicherungscup last month.

Eugenie Bouchard turned 20 three months ago.

She’s WTA’s new pinup girl, possessing the kind of tennis and confidence that has seen her storm into the quarter-finals for a second consecutive major.

The Canadian world No16 has a lot going for her but perhaps her most vital asset is how intense she is, both on and off the court.

You’d think a 20-year-old on a tennis tour would be taking things a bit lightly, but not Bouchard .

Asked who her best friend on tour is, she quickly answered: “Best friend on tour? I don’t have one. I don’t think the tennis tour is the place to have friends.

“For me, it’s all competition. And I think it’s important to just remember that we’re going to play against each other in matches.

“It’s not like we’re teammates. To me, it’s kind of more competitive.”

That’s probably why she’s the youngest player in the top-16.

Statto Scot hopes Heat claim the threepeat
Andy Murray, who is a Miami Heat season ticket holder, has tipped LeBron James and co for the threepeat against the San Antonio Spurs.

Murray is a sports geek, who never ceases to amaze when he pulls out some impressive stats off the top of his head in almost every single sport.

“I think they’ve (the Heat) got a good chance,” he said.

“The Spurs are always unbelievably consistent, always giving themselves a chance to win. I think it should be a great [NBA] final.

“I saw a stat that Tim Duncan had won 622 games in the last 10 years and that LeBron had won 621. They are No1 and No2. They obviously both know how to get their teams winning.”

So does he see a threepeat for the Heat?

“I think they have a shot,” said the Scot.

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Gulbis stuns Federer in French epic

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Biggest career win: Gulbis is through to the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

It’s been a long time coming – the official comeback of Ernests Gulbis – and what better way to announce it than by handing Roger Federer his first ever five-set defeat at Roland Garros to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final in six years.

Federer was bidding to reach a 10th consecutive quarter-final at Roland Garros while Gulbis hadn’t made it past the third round at any major since making the quarters in Paris in 2008.

“This was probably the most important match of my career, especially because it was five sets,” said Gulbis. “For my confidence and just for me as a tennis player, a five‑set win over Roger Federer is really big.”

The world No17, who is the only Latvian man to compete at a Grand Slam, has won two titles in France this season, in Marseille and Nice, and is now 12-0 in the country in 2014.

The match was three hours and 42 minutes of high quality tennis and it was Gulbis who drew first blood, breaking for a 4-2 lead in the opening set. The 25-year-old was attacking with his serve and his backhand but Federer was equally sharp and he broke back, forcing the set to go to a tiebreak.

The Swiss was trailing 3-5 in the tiebreak but rallied back to take a one-set lead with a forehand passing shot. The pair exchanged breaks early in the second and Federer edged ahead breaking in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead.

But the 2009 champion was broken while serving for the set. He hit an overhead smash in the direction of Gulbis, who executed the passing shot and from then on the momentum seemed to have abandoned Federer.

“I was really lucky,” said Gulbis of that point. He then ran away with the second set tiebreak, after getting a code violation for breaking a racquet when he squandered two break points in game 11. 

The Latvian broke twice in the third set – which saw a classic Federer ‘tweener’ – to take a two-sets-to-one lead. Gulbis went down two breaks in the fourth and went off-court for a medical timeout while trailing 2-5. 

"It was my back and the hamstring, they were getting a little bit tight,” explained Gulbis. “I'm honest, I'm not big on medical timeouts. I don't like to take it, but I take it when it's really necessary. It probably was my third medical timeout in my life.”

Upon his return, Gulbis got booed by the crowd but won 10 of the next 11 points, getting one of the breaks back.

But Federer served out the set on his second attempt to level the match. Gulbis went up 0-40 on Federer’s serve in the second game of the decider and got the crucial break. The 18th-seed aced to get his first match point and only needed one to book a quarter-final with Tomas Berdych.

“(My thoughts are) a bit all over the place,” said Federer after the loss. “Clearly I'm very disappointed not to come through with the win. After the chance in the second set, fighting back in the fourth, not to play a better fifth set.

“A lot of regrets here now. But I think Gulbis did a good job of hanging around and clearly coming back in that second set was crucial for him, I think. So it was a tough match and I'm disappointed I lost it.”

For a second straight match, Federer’s opponent went off the court for a medical timeout. Asked how he handles the waiting time, the Swiss said: “That's part of the game. In the past I guess it's been abused much more than today, but still, what can you tell? He didn't look hurt in any way. But if you can use it might as well do it.”

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French Open diary: Everybody loves Rafa

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Popular champion: Rafa Nadal.

More celebrity visitors have been stopping by the French Open with the latest being Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg. 

Force India’s German driver was at Court Philippe Chatrier to watch Rafael Nadal beat Leonardo Mayer and judging from his tweet, where he called Nadal “The Boss”, it’s safe to assume Hulkenberg’s a Rafanatic.

There was a touching moment on centre court following Nadal’s match as the Spaniard and Cedric Pioline honoured French ex-professional Jerome Golmard, who has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

The entire stadium gave the 40-year-old a standing ovation before Nadal went over and gave him a hug.

Meanwhile, Svetlana Kuznetsova was so pleased with her defence against Petra Kvitova, she said she felt like she was Nadal.

“I really feel almost like Rafa out there. The difference is I cannot make winners from that far behind, so I have to go inside a little bit,” said the 2009 champion.

Well if there’s one person you want to feel like in Paris it’s Rafa, so Sveta should definitely feel good about her chances.

Halep’s a language wiz
Romanian world No4 Simona Halep continues her rapid rise and it seems a lot is owed to her support system.

Her manager is Virginia Ruzici, the 1978 French Open champion, and she has the likes of Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac constantly supporting her.

She said she met with Nastase and he gave her some good advice. Whatever he said is definitely working for Halep.

She’s also considerably improved her English but she says she still has a long way to go.

What is she doing to make it better? She’s reading Harry Potter, of course.

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