Relationships between players and umpires are just like any other relationship – they can be complicated.
– Reem’s French Open diary: Crazy antics aplenty at Roland Garros
– #360podcast: Career slam awaits Novak Djokovic at French Open
– Malek Jaziri: I tried against Andrey Kuznetsov but it wasn’t my day
Which was clear when Rafael Nadal said – in perfect Ross and Rachel fashion – that him and Brazilian umpire Carlos Bernardes are effectively “on a break”.
Nadal had a problem with Bernardes during one of the Spaniard’s matches in Rio de Janeiro where he realised he had his shorts on the wrong way and asked the umpire to change them around. Bernardes said he could, but that he would get a time violation.
That of course came after a series of regular disagreements between the pair.
— Express Sport (@DExpress_Sport) May 26, 2015
Bernardes hasn’t umpired a Nadal match ever since and turns out that was because of a request made by the world No7 to the ATP.
“I respect Bernardes a lot. I consider him a great umpire and a good person, but I think when you have some troubles with the same umpire, sometimes it’s easy to stay for a while away, no?” said Nadal.
Nadal successfully pushing Bernardes off his court is a huge issue. Would a lower ranked player have that power? No.
— The Tennis Nerds (@TheTennisNerds) May 26, 2015
“I think that’s the real thing. I think it’s better for both of us if we are not in court at the same time for a while after what happened in Rio de Janeiro.
“I am not happy with that situation. That’s the first thing. Because I would love to have Bernardes on the court again. It will happen, but I think for both of us it is better to have a break.”
Shine bright like a diamond
So much can change in one year and Caroline Wozniacki can certainly attest to that, more than anyone else.
This time last year in Paris, the Dane had to talk to the media coming off a first round loss to Yanina Wickmayer and she made a statement at the start of her press conference – which was a full house – to address her split from world No1 golfer Rory McIlroy, who had broken off their engagement just a couple of weeks earlier.
This year, a happy and bubbly Wozniacki showed up to a far less crowded press conference room following her straight sets thrashing of Karin Knapp and her first reaction was: “wow, way less people in the room than last year,” she said laughing.
It’s great that a year on, Wozniacki is happy to joke about the whole situation.
“I like when there are people (in the interview room), but for like my play and not for other reasons,” she added smiling.
— #graciascarlo (@Vamos_feli) May 26, 2015
She later discussed her outfit for the fortnight saying: “I’m wearing yellow these weeks, so I think that contrasts well on to the clay. It kind of brightens it all up, even when it’s a grey day out there, I’m still shining bright.”
Follow Reem’s twitter account for a consistent dosage of tennis news and experiences at the French Open.
World No84 Malek Jaziri is the highest-ranked Arab in both men and women's tennis. The Tunisian will be giving us a behind-the-scenes look each day from Roland Garros.
– INTERVIEW: Marin Cilic – Winding road back to grand slam glory
– Reem's French Open diary: Crazy antics aplenty at Roland Garros
My French Open came to an end on Monday and I have to say I’m still confused.
My opponent Andrey Kuznetsov (who beat me 6-3, 6-2, 6-4) was on fire. I couldn’t understand what was happening. The way he was playing was hard to predict.
I was expecting that I would not be at my top level because I was sidelined with an ankle problem for 11 days and I only had five or six days to prepare for the French Open.
But Andrey played his game and he hit winners against me like crazy. I've played against top-10, top-three, top-two players in the world before and I’ve never had so many winners hit against me, and it’s clay, not even hard courts or grass.
I wasn’t fresh and I felt like I wasn’t there.
I practiced too much maybe in the past five days. I spoke to my coach after the match and I told him I was feeling tired.
No excuses at the end of the day. Andrey was better than me and he deserved that win. Sometimes you have bad days, this was mine. You have to accept it and continue to work hard.
I’m glad my coach is finally travelling with me and I don’t think it was lack of communication between us or anything like that. At the end of the day, we’re also preparing for the future, not just Roland Garros. I have to practice hard, there’s no alternative, because I have to be prepared to play five sets.
That’s the thing, maybe I felt tired from over-training but what else could I have done?
I really want to apologise to all the Tunisians and all the people who came to support me on Monday. A lot of people were waiting for me here in Paris, expecting me to do something big and I feel like I disappointed them.
I tried but it wasn’t my day.
Still I practiced very well, tennis, fitness… so maybe that’s a positive I can take from Paris. It’s just a shame that I wasn’t feeling well on the day. I’m a bit confused, I have to confess.
I know that he’s a good player, he beat a lot of top guys like David Ferrer etc… On his day, he can play amazing. And he did that.
The ball off my racquet wasn’t working, my forehand, my slice… I couldn’t feel my shots.
It wasn’t meant to be unfortunately.
I will stay here in Paris for the next couple of days and try to prepare for the grass court season. I’m entered in the Challenger in Manchester, so I’ll look for a grass court around here to get ready before heading to England.
The good thing is that grass for me is better than clay. So I’m looking forward to that.
Four years ago, Novak Djokovic came to Paris having not lost a single match in 2011 and looking to add seven more victories to his winning streak by lifting the Roland Garros trophy.
His run came to a screeching halt by Roger Federer in the semi-finals and he’s been denied the French Open crown time and time again ever since.
This year, Djokovic is not undefeated but he might as well be. He has won his last 22 consecutive matches, has won four Masters 1000 titles and the Australian Open in the past five months, and is looking more and more invincible by the minute. His first round opponent, Finnish lefty Jarkko Nieminen is undoubtedly the unluckiest man in the draw.
— Neha Ganeriwal (@nehag80) May 25, 2015
Djokovic won three of the four majors in 2011 and finished that year with a remarkable 70-6 win-loss record. Results-wise it may have been his best season but the world No1 insists he is a much more evolved player at the moment.
“I just feel more complete as a player in terms of my ability to handle the emotions on the court and find a way to win the tough matches,” said the Serb, who is a two-time runner-up at Roland Garros.
“I’ve matured. Just mentally knowing what to do, how to approach big tournaments, big matches, and how to keep that consistency going and not have many ups and downs.
“2011 was results-wise the best year of my career, no doubt about it. But this year I’m able to handle things that are on the court and also off the court in a much better and more mature way.
“So I like the player that I am today more than the one that I was in 2011.”
Djokovic’s counterpart in the women’s game, world No1 Serena Williams also commences her French Open campaign, against Czech Repubic’s Andrea Hlavackova.
At 33, Williams remains a force to be reckoned with on the ladies’ circuit and she admits she is most proud of how she has stepped up in terms of consistency over the past few seasons.
“I have been up and down a lot in my career. I think the past few years I have been really consistent. I think since 2011 when I first started back (after suffering a pulmonary embolism) I have been doing the best that I can. That is something I actually had never done in my career (before),” said Williams, who is recovering from an elbow injury.
The American two-time French Open champion is searching for a 20th major crown that would place her just two shy of Steffi Graf’s Open Era record.
“Do you know what’s good about tennis? Unlike basketball and football, you have four times a year to get to the grand slams and try and win one. You have four chances. That gives us a little bit more opportunity. I feel like there is still plenty of time. Honestly, if I get to 20, that would be great. If I get past that, that would also be great. I think 19 is pretty awesome, too.”
Rafael Nadal will also be chasing glory this fortnight as he targets a record-extending 10th Coupe des Mousquetaires.
He begins his title defence against 18-year-old French wildcard Quentin Halys, ranked No296 in the world.
“We are in the most important place of my career, without any doubt, no? The emotions that I have experiences in this court are difficult to describe. Every year it’s been a special one,” said Nadal, who would pass Pete Sampras and take sole possession of second place in the grand slams Open Era leaders list should he capture a 15th major this fortnight.