Malek Jaziri insists he walks away from Roland Garros with no regrets following his second round exit to Richard Gasquet, and paid tribute to his coach Christophe Freyss, who came to support him despite having a heart procedure done two days earlier.
Jaziri, who was trying to reach the French Open third round for the first time, fell 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 to the 27th-seeded home favourite in front of a buoyant crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The defeat brings to a conclusion Jaziri’s best clay-court campaign to-date, having reached his first ATP final in Istanbul on the red dirt earlier this month.
The Tunisian, who is likely to re-enter the top-60 after Roland Garros, won his opening round over Mikhail Youzhny in five sets, without Freyss in his corner as the French coach suffered a blood clot in his heart on the eve of the match that required a procedure on Tuesday.
“Yesterday he was released from the hospital. They told him you have to be less stressed but he wanted to come today to be with me,” Jaziri said after his second round on Thursday.
“He knows I need him a lot, he gives me a lot of positive energy, he tried to push. Thanks to him that he came, I know it’s not easy for him at all, to be here today after a tough few days.
“He tried to push me the maximum that he could. He was close to die, the doctor told him ‘you shouldn’t be here anymore’. I tried to take motivation from him, from my family, from the people from my country as well.
“I gave 100 per cent so no regrets today, I gave everything on court and in the end Richard was better than me.”
Gasquet next faces 10-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and the 34-year-old Jaziri admits he is relishing the opportunity face the Spaniard.
“I knew the winner can play Nadal, if he wins as well. Who doesn’t want to play Nadal or these top players? We play this game for these kind of things, to play on these stadiums with these amazing champions. I wanted but maybe next tournament, who knows?” said the Tunisian.
Jaziri believes his lack of consistency throughout the match is what cost him against Gasquet, who is now 2-0 head-to-head against him.
“I think overall in the match I was a bit up and down and I think consistency was the key of the match. I think that’s why he won this match. But I keep going with a positive mindset. I think I had a great season on clay. I didn’t have an easy draw at all,” added Jaziri.
“Everything touches everything. When your consistency goes down, it touches the mentality, and then physically, it’s like a pyramid. I think I improved a lot in many other things. Keep working, I’m not where I want to be. When you want to beat these guys in five sets you have to keep your intensity and energy up always.”
On his part, Gasquet was pleased to get through the match in four sets.
“I know it was a long match. For a little while I was not playing that well. The weather was stifling on the court. I didn’t manage to break back, and then obviously he felt confident, served well, played well. So I knew I had to give everything I had at the beginning of the third set to make the difference and not to leave too much in it of my energy in the second set,” said the ex-world No. 7.
“So I got ready beginning of the third set. We had long and hard balls, and I held my serve. You know when you’re one set love, you don’t look too proud obviously. And then in the fourth set I had a slight problem in my thigh. And I’m glad I won, especially the third set, which was a difficult one.
“So I was glad to get 6-3, 6-0, because at the end of the second set I wasn’t sure I was going to win like that.”
Jaziri will turn his focus to the grass-court season with his next tournament being s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.
Celebrity Madridista Rafael Nadal paid tribute to Zinedine Zidane — who shocked the football world on Thursday by announcing he has resigned as Real Madrid coach — and hopes the Frenchman returns to the Spanish club in the future.
The Spanish world No. 1 admits that, like the rest of the world, he did not expect Thursday’s sudden news of Zidane’s departure.
“Of course was a surprise for everybody, no? But at the same time, Zidane is a top person. He’s a person that is tough to accept that he’s leaving for different things, different reasons. First thing because he’s a great coach and he was having a lot of success with our team,” Nadal told reporters following his straight-sets win over Guido Pella in the French Open second round on Thursday.
Zidane led Los Blancos to three consecutive Champions League titles during his short two-and-a-half-year tenure as manager, along with six more trophies.
Nadal received his first of 10 Roland Garros trophies from Zidane on Court Philippe Chatrier back in 2005.
“Second thing, he’s a good person, normal person, humble person,” Nadal continued.
“He represents, in my opinion, the right values, and he’s a perfect example how somebody with a lot of success have to do the things of every day with being normal, being humble without saying negative things about the players, about the club, about nobody. Never, I never heard, referees, nothing.
“He was always fine and smiling on the press conference. Even when the things were not going well this year, that was so difficult moments. At the end of the year, he won the Champions League and nothing happens, but during the year has been a very tough year during the year for the team.
“He always have been positive and believing on the players and on the club. He deserve to choose what’s better for him. For my side, I just can say thanks for all the things that he did for Madrid. I hope will be back.
“And like sportsman and person, just thanks for the right examples that he gave to the rest of the people.”
The Maria Sharapova press conference experience continues to get more and more fun and it’s usually the subtle moments that end up becoming the real highlights.
On Thursday after her victory over Donna Vekic, a colleague’s phone briefly emits a sound and Sharapova quickly fires a sarcastic, “That’s a yellow flag, Ben”. A reporter asks her if she knows much about, Roland Garros — the pilot the tournament was named after — and she in turn asks the woman to enlighten her with info on him.
Sharapova’s press conferences are often more like back-and-forth dialogues rather than simple question-answer routines.
One journalist asked her if she was looking forward to return to the Philippe Chatrier centre court for her third-round on Saturday and she immediately quizzed him on how he knew the schedule so early?
The following exchange took place:
Journalist: What’s your feeling before returning on the center court for the next round? You have great emotion on the Philippe Chatrier?
Sharapova: Do you know the schedule?
Journalist: Could be very possible to be on center court.
Sharapova: I don’t know. Yesterday I got the schedule at 7:30 p.m., so if you know the schedule today for Saturday, please let me know (smiling).
Journalist: Because it’s [No. 6 seed Karolina] Pliskova and it’s possible to be on centre court. If you are on centre court, what will be your emotions or…
Sharapova: Well, there is also Sharapova. So…
It was a brief but telling moment from the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion — two-time winner in Paris — who reminded everyone that her presence alone can warrant a Centre Court assignment.
She then continued to answer him, adding: “Well, I would love to be there again, of course. And, yeah, I think from a draw perspective, it’s an anticipated seeding match of, you know, if those two seeds kind of went through, it’s a match that maybe people anticipated. And it’s been a while since I played Pliskova. It will be our first meeting on clay.
“As you said, it’s been a few years since I have been back on the court; so if I do have a chance to play on it I will welcome it with open arms, and if it’s another court then it will be great.”
Later in her presser, veteran Spanish journalist Manolo Poyan asked Sharapova about her lefty forehand shots which she sometimes pulls off during her matches. The right-handed ex-world No. 1 can switch her racquet to her left hand and hit a forehand instead of a winner. It doesn’t always work, but it has on several occasions.
“I grew up naturally left-handed, so I do a lot of things with my left hand, and I played tennis with my left hand for some time, so I sometimes do it on the run. It’s called the desperate shot,” she said with a laugh.
I made a guest appearance (along w @Sugarpova ) on SHOWTIME on #Billions alongside Damian Lewis &John Malkovich. What an amazing experience! The 5am call time 😱 isn’t so bad when you get to sit in a chair next to these two talents. 🎥 #oscarnom #dontthinkso pic.twitter.com/MwytaOOJRq
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 28, 2018
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Another must-attend press conference at any tennis tournament is that of Andrea Petkovic.
The charismatic German can steer conversations into art, film, literature and anything else you can think of. The ever-interesting Petkovic, who is into the French Open third round, where she faces top-seeded Simona Halep, has been writing for a couple of magazines, in English and in German. She joked that if we knew anyone interested in hiring her as a columnist, we should let her know.
“I’m writing for Süddeutsche magazine. This guy here is the boss, in the front, of that,” she said in her press conference on Thursday.
“So I’m writing a column, which appears Mondays. About — well, it’s kind of complicated to explain, actually. It’s about films, more or less. I always pick one film that I talk about, and then I sort of make a connection to my life. It’s makes more sense when you read it than now when you actually hear it.
“But, yeah, and then Racquet, and that’s it. And that’s more than enough for now. But if you have a job for me, I’m always here. I need some extra cash on the side.”