Tennis world No1 Andy Murray and world and Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner joined forces atop La Grande Arche de La Defense in Paris ahead of the former’s assault on a maiden Roland Garros title.
The Under Armour athletes took part in a special photo-shoot at the picturesque location where they had a unique training session that showcased the shared technical values of judo and clay court tennis – patience, defence and momentum-swinging attack.
“Being number one is about never standing still, you can never believe you have nothing new to learn and must always push to find whatever can take your game forward. So, it was really interesting to see how Teddy prepares for the biggest events and pushes the boundaries of his own training, not just physically but also mentally,” said Murray.
Dream duo: Agassi and Djokovic (Photo via @djokernole on Twitter)
Paris — I touched down in Paris today (Thursday) for the French Open and headed straight to Roland Garros as soon as I landed.
I always arrive at the Slams on the Thursday before the action starts to catch some qualies, make sure I’m here for media day – held on Friday at the French Open – and attend some practices to get an idea of what kind of shape the players are in.
Unfortunately my 1:30pm arrival to Paris meant that I missed two of the most special moments of the day – the return of Petra Kvitova and the first sighting of Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic working together on court.
Kvitova, who was attacked by a knife-wielding intruder in her apartment last December, practiced yesterday in Paris and will reveal in a press conference here on Friday whether she will compete at Roland Garros or not. Kvitova’s recovery has gone faster than expected and even if she doesn’t play the French Open, it’s just amazing seeing her hitting again.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was all smiles during her practice session with Safarova on Thursday, under the watchful eye of her coach Jiri Vanek.
Meanwhile, journalists and fans gathered at Court 5 to watch Djokovic and Agassi step on court together for the first time in Paris. With 20 Grand Slam titles between them, the powerhouse duo were the centre of attention and I must say I still can’t believe we’re going to be having Agassi around again for a little while.
Kvitova was not the only player making a long-awaited appearance. Aussie youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis, who hasn’t played a major since the 2015 US Open having struggled with a series of injuries, was in good spirits on Thursday as he hit the practice courts. He’ll be playing in the main draw thanks to a protected ranking.
I watched Rafael Nadal practice with Jack Sock on Court Philippe Chatrier for a good two hours where the nine-time Roland Garros champion was pummeling the ball with so much gusto, I half wished he saved some of it for the actual tournament.
Both players then filmed a promotional video with their common Babolat court-side.
Meanwhile in qualies, Tunisian Ons Jabeur is just one win away from her first Roland Garros main draw after she dismissed Viktoria Kamenskaya 7-6 (2), 6-1. She faces Japan’s Miyu Kato on Friday in the final round of qualifying.
“Roland-Garros is a place where I have a lot of memories from playing in the juniors, and it’s amazing to win – especially with so many Tunisians who have come here to support me. I hope to continue and play even better tomorrow,” Jabeur told RolandGarros.com – referring to her 2011 French Open girls’ title triumph.
18-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (ATP No202), who was junior world No1 this time last year, qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw with wins over Thomas Fabbiano, Gleb Sakharov, and Oscar Otte.