French Open diary: Gael Monfils lights up dreary Paris

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Crowd favourite: Gael Monfils was the star of the show during the charity event.

It’s becoming a recurring feeling here at Roland Garros. You walk around the grounds and you feel more like you’re at Wimbledon rather than Paris, with the weather dreary, cold and very very wet. 

But even though it was raining cats and dogs yesterday, that didn’t stop the players from taking to Court Philippe Chatrier to take part in Kids’ Day, which this year, was staged in support of the Balkans, raising funds for rescue and relief from the floods in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.

It was a full house on centre court, with acclaimed DJ Bob Sinclair entertaining the crowds, and a host of players taking part in back-to-back exhibitions.

Simona Halep dazzled as she hit every shot in the book while playing a doubles match, partnering French wheelchair tennis star Stephane Houdet, against Alize Cornet and French teenager Laurent Lokoli.

Djokovic, who gave away his entire prize money from winning Rome last Sunday to the flood victims in the Balkans, was joined by Goran Ivanisevic, Jelena Jankovic and Kristina Mladenovic, amongst others and the crowds roared when he started shaking his bottom to Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk this Way.

But it was Monfils who stole the show, putting in a proper break-dancing performance, which saw him at one point standing on one hand.

While it’s far from wise to break-dance in the rain a day before his most important tournament of the season starts, we can never expect anything less from the acrobatic Monfils, who undoubtedly won the dance-off between him and a pop-locking Lokoli. 

Over on the practice courts, Milos Raonic was practicing with Grigor Dimitrov, with their coaches, Ivan Ljubicic and Roger Rasheed seriously watching over them. Let’s just say that Raonic’s serve up close is just as terrifying as it sounds.

In the press room, Roger Federer was asked to reflect upon his first match at Roland Garros, back in 1999 against the-then world No3 Pat Rafter.

He said: “I had a wildcard, and I was very happy with this wildcard.  When you’re young and you play a big tournament like the French Open, if people think you have talent and it’s good to give you a wildcard, it’s great. I played on the Lenglen Court against Rafter. It was fantastic for me. I even won the first set. 

“At the time you even got bonus points if you beat top 50 or top 10 players, so I was trying to get those points. I knew I wouldn’t end up winning the match. But it’s like a carrot you give to a donkey, you know, but it was great.”

Interesting choice of words, Roger!

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