Ons Jabeur says she walks away with positives from this year’s French Open after her historic run in Paris came to an end at the hands of Swiss No30 seed Timea Bacsinszky on Friday.
Jabeur, who is the first Arab woman to ever reach the third round of a Grand Slam in singles, fell to Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-2 and admits she wasn’t physically up for the task following a tough match in the previous round.
The 22-year-old Tunisian had taken out No6 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second round – her first top-10 win – and was looking to enter the second week of a major for the first time.
But Switzerland’s Bacsinszky, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2015, proved too strong for Jabeur and wrapped up the win in a mere 67 minutes.
“I couldn’t find my legs today. I don’t know where they gone. Maybe my sister played today. I’m not sure it was me,” said Jabeur after the match.
“It was a little bit tough. I mean, I was trying to really play and put the ball in. Physically, I was not there. And if I’m physically done, then mentally affected me a little bit.
“But I’m a little bit disappointed with finish like this because it was really good tournament for me. I was trying to make it to a third set, but it was a little bit tough at the end. But still happy with my performance here. And I’m going to work even harder to be ready for the other Grand Slams, I hope.”
Jabeur, who is the first lucky loser since 1996 to reach the third round of the French Open, started by breaking Bacsinszky’s serve but the Swiss retaliated immediately. The No30 seed had to save a break point to hold in game five then capitalised on a poor service game from Jabeur to inch ahead 4-2.
Bacsinszky consolidated and got three set points on the Jabeur serve at 5-2. The 2011 Roland Garros junior champion saved the first with an overhead and the second with a down-the-line forehand winner.
The third was saved with a killer down-the-line backhand winner but double-faulted when she had game point to hold for 3-5. Bacsinszky got her hands on a fourth set point and this time, she wouldn’t let a Jabeur drop shot fool her, as she ran it down and found the winner to take the opening set in 32 minutes.
Bacsinszky broke for a 4-2 lead in the second, using the weapon Jabeur had been using against her – a deadly drop shot. And the Swiss never looked back, completing a dominant victory to set up a fourth round against Venus Williams.
Jabeur admits it was tough to regroup after her big win over Cibulkova but she was not short on motivation against Bacsinszky.
”I honestly tried to forget my win against Cibulkova yesterday because I had to move on a little bit. And it was tough because everyone sees me says, like, Congrats, congrats. I’m like, Okay, it was yesterday. I’m trying to forget about it,” she explained.
“And I don’t want people think that I won yesterday that today I gave up or something. I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted to play my game, but I just physically wasn’t ready. I played six matches, I think, and it’s really long.”
Jabeur says there were plenty of lessons learnt from her history-making efforts in Paris and she’s looking to do even better at Wimbledon.
“I honestly learned that even when you lose, you have to believe that maybe you get in again as a lucky loser. And just have to believe in yourself even if you play a top 10,” she said.
“You just have to believe in yourself and you believe that she can be not – it can be not her day that day. You can be better. And you have to believe in yourself as much as you can.”
Bacsinszky had faced Jabeur before, in Oeiras in 2014, and knew what to expect from the crafty youngster.
“She’s kind of trying to make a surprise on every point,” explained Bacsinszky. “You don’t know what you’re going to get, so you have to be awake every time. You cannot just relax and just wait for it to happen.
“Because if you leave her play, then, I mean, I think you can be pretty quickly in a pretty bad position during the match.”
Andre Agassi has revealed he is coaching Novak Djokovic for free and that this is his way of contributing to the tennis world.
The pair have teamed up this French Open after Djokovic announced he had parted ways with his long-time coach Marian Vajda last month and they’ve so far had a good start with the Serb booking himself a place in the fourth round on Friday, with a five-set win over Diego Schwartzman.
Agassi had shown little interest in coaching as he lives in Nevada with his wife Steffi Graf, and has founded charter schools for young children. But he said that it was his wife who actually urged him to take up Djokovic on his offer.
“It was a surprise for me. I got a call from him late in Monte Carlo after he was done and he wanted to talk tennis and he wanted to talk the possibility of working,” Agassi told Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker on Eurosport.
“I said ‘listen, maybe I can help you over the phone, I don’t think you need much, but this is not possible for me with the balance of my life’.
“And then ‘Steffi says maybe, maybe you’ll enjoy it’. And I said ‘do you think?’ I respect her so much, I said ‘okay, I’ll go early since I have to be in Paris anyhow and I’ll just get to know him.
“He’s a very inspirational guy for me. For me, this is – I do it on my own time, I do it on my own dime, my own money, I don’t want anything, I don’t need anything. I want to help him. And it helps the game and I think he should be – him at his best is good for the game and it’s a way I can contribute, hopefully.”
It remains unclear how much time Agassi and Djokovic will be spending together but the American eight-time Grand Slam champion is willing to work with him at Wimbledon as well.
“If he wants me there, yeah, I will come and figure it out. Whatever is practical and achievable, 100 per cent I will make the effort.”
Becker, who had great success with Djokovic for three seasons (2014-2016), asked Agassi on which parts of the Serb’s game he would like to work on.
“I don’t want him thinking about the things that are going to make him so much better that he stops doing what comes naturally and all this, so this is a whole different conversation,” replied Agassi. “But for me it’s simple. His game is built on controlling the baseline. And his game is built on executing to big targets. He’s not a guy that plays precisely to lines, occasionally if he’s on the defence he surprises you with this.
“He’s a guy that throws body blow after body blow after body blow. He’s just never thought a lot about the other side of the court. So I think there’s ways he can take his game at 30 years old, and older, because hopefully he’s going to still want to play for a while and then he could start to make it easier for himself by knowing what to do with the guy across the net.”
On a day that witnessed few upsets but lots of drama and emotion, Andy Murray had his favourite argument with the umpire about the Spidercam, Eugenie Bouchard showed up late to her match, and Juan Martin del Potro melted hearts worldwide.
Murray had a tough time on court against an inspired Martin Klizan before he advanced in four tight sets. During the match, the world No1 threatened the umpire he would sit down if the Spidercam kept turning up in his line of vision while he was serving.
This is not a new pet peeve of Murray’s. He hates that thing. He elaborated once again in press.
“I don’t like it when the Spidercam is – I don’t know how many times I have spoken about it in here. You guys know, I don’t like it when it’s in my ball toss. And it was there at the beginning of the match. It was the same thing yesterday in the first round. It happened three or four times in the first round where it was there. I asked for it to be moved. They moved it. Then it comes back,” said Murray.
“I just don’t like it there. It puts me off, and I asked a few times today, and it kept coming back. I just said, If it’s there in my ball toss again, I’m going to sit down and wait for it to move, you know, because I just don’t feel I should have to be asking for it every change of ends to not be there. It’s quite a simple thing to change.”
We apologise on the French Open’s behalf, Sir Andy!
Meanwhile, Bouchard turned up several minutes late for her second round against Anastasija Sevastova on Court 2. Players usually step on court together so it was a bit unusual when she didn’t show up on time.
She explained later what happened.
“Well, there was a retirement before (Almagro retired on the same court against Del Potro). So, I mean, I had to do my whole routine. I had to get my ankle taped. I can’t just do everything in 10 minutes,” said the Canadian.
Asked how her opponent got there before her she said: “She ran ahead of me, I don’t know.”
In a heartbreaking moment in the Nick Kyrgios press conference, a reporter asked him if he could talk about his late grandfather who passed away five weeks ago. Kyrgios was very close to his grandfather and told us it’s been difficult to find motivation for tennis since his death.
In attempt to respond to the reporter’s question, Kyrgios said without looking us in the eye: “I mean, it was — yeah, when I was back home, it was tough. I mean, I can’t talk about it. I can’t.”
We were all smart enough to let him go after that.
Here’s a look at how day 5 went down at Roland Garros…
There were plenty of impressive points today, but I prefer to highlight these two atrocities from Tatjana Maria and Martin Klizan instead.
Maria did this:
While Klizan did this to get broken while serving for the fourth set:
Can't tell which one was worse, this from Klizan or Tatjana Maria's pic.twitter.com/Y6zn9jcEPw— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) June 2, 2017
19 — weeks since Agnieszka Radwanska had won back-to-back matches prior to Thursday
30 — men aged 30 or over reached the second round in Paris, an Open era record at a Grand Slam
67 — unforced errors committed by Martin Klizan in his four set second round defeat to Andy Murray
78 — minutes, the length of the fourth set between Murray and Klizan – longest set of the day
“I wish. It’s not that easy, especially comparing me to Federer, let’s come back to reality.”
– Agnieszka Radwanska when asked if she would ‘pull a Federer’ and skip the clay season altogether in the future
“Get me a beer now. Get me one right now. Honest to God.”
– Nick Kyrgios, on court, after dropping serve in game three of the fourth set in his loss to Kevin Anderson. Because, why not?
“No. I could be close, between you and me.”
— John Isner when told his next opponent Karen Khachanov is married at the age of 20 while the American was not. Not sure how Isner thought his answer would be “between him and the reporter”.
Karen Khachanov bt. Tomas Berdych  7-5, 6-3, 6-1
Playing his first Roland Garros main draw, and just his third Grand Slam overall, Khachanov upset 2010 semi-finalist Berdych in a two-hour 13-minute affair.
Anna Chakvetadze and her fellow Eurosport presenters/commentators went around asking Roland Garros fans to pronounce difficult Russian surnames. Which is a hilarious idea. It all went well until Chakvetadze decided to say ‘arigato’ (thank you in Japanese) to a woman from Taiwan. It’s beyond me why they didn’t edit it out.