And the Marat Safin heartbreak tour rolls on. . .
Marat Safin was knocked out of the second round of the French Open on Wednesday, losing to French wild card, Josselin Ouanna, in five tumultuous sets: 6-7,6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 8-10.
Some called it thrilling, I called it torture.
As the light faded into the fifth set, Marat raged against his fate. He howled, beat his breast with his racquet and hurled himself onto the clay. He ravished the net with a fierce kiss when a net cord went his way. I wished I was the net and prayed that my hero would blaze a brick-stained path to glory. How could the tennis Gods deny one of their own?
But the tennis Gods are cruel – to Marat and his followers. I watched helplessly as Marat suffered his defeat.
At least for this match, the French practiced a different theology. The partisan crowd cheered on its David as he fought Goliath on the battered brick of Court Philippe Chatrier. I’m no convert, but even a Safinite like me had to acknowledge Ouanna’s audacious effort to become France’s newest hope.
In a bittersweet coincidence, Fabrice Santoro also played his final singles match at Roland Garros on Wednesday. The veteran lost to Christophe Rochus in four sets, in a first round match continued from the day before. The wily Frenchman, who is also retiring this year, was asked in his press conference to name his favorite Roland Garros memory. His answer: his five set victory over Marat Safin in 2001.*
FABRICE SANTORO: “Marat, No. 1, because there was a special atmosphere and all the ingredients were there for a beautiful day. It was Marat Safin. It was center court. Crowded, good match, quite a bit of suspense. And I won, so it was a perfect story.”
Now that Fabrice is gone, the French have a new perfect story, once again at Marat’s expense.
(*Santoro was probably riffing off Marat’s comment from a couple days ago: “I regret he (Santoro) didn’t retire earlier… He destroyed a couple of tournaments in my life, and thanks to him, I couldn’t achieve some tournaments. So, he should have retired many years ago.”)
If you happen to care about people other than Marat, Maria Sharapova and Mandy Moore, take a gander at Wednesday’s results, below. (Who’s betting Rafa bagels Lleyton Hewitt in the third round?)
French Open Results – Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Second Round – Men’s singles
 R Nadal (ESP) d T Gabashvili (RUS) 61 64 62
 A Murray (GBR) d P Starace (ITA) 63 26 75 64
 G Simon (FRA) d R Kendrick (USA) 75 60 61
 F Verdasco (ESP) d P Petzschner (GER) 61 62 63
 F Gonzalez (CHI) d R Machado (POR) 62 63 62
 M Cilic (CRO) d D Sela (ISR) 60 63 61
 D Ferrer (ESP) d N Kiefer (GER) 63 57 64 36 62
 S Wawrinka (SUI) d N Massu (CHI) 61 61 62
 R Stepanek (CZE) d [LL] M Montcourt (FRA) 64 46 64 64
J Ouanna (FRA) d  M Safin (RUS) 76(2) 76(4) 46 36 10-8
 R Soderling (SWE) d D Istomin (UZB) 64 76(4) 64
 V Hanescu (ROU) d M Youzhny (RUS) 75 75 75
 N Almagro (ESP) d E Gulbis (LAT) 67(4) 76(5) 63 62
J Tipsarevic (SRB) d  F Lopez (ESP) 67(9) 64 76(4) 63
L Hewitt (AUS) d A Golubev (KAZ) 64 63 61
 N Davydenko (RUS) vs D Junqueira (ARG) 46 63 60 22 – Suspended due to darkness
First Round – Men’s Singles
A Clement (FRA) d  D Tursunov (RUS) 63 36 64 61
C Rochus (BEL) d F Santoro (FRA) 63 61 36 64
Second Round – Women’s Singles
(1) Dinara Safina (RUS) d. (Q) Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 61 61
(8) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) 61 62
(9) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Kristina Barrois (GER) 76(1) 75
Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (11) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 62 16 86
(Q) Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR) d. (15) Zheng Jie (CHN) 64 63
(20) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 61 60
(22) Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 62 64
(25) Li Na (CHN) d. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 61 64
(27) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Julie Coin (FRA) 62 76(2)
(29) Agnes Szavay (HUN) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 62 60
(32) Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 61 62
Gisela Dulko (ARG) d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 76(5) 06 62
Aravane Rezai (FRA) d. (Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) 36 64 62
Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) 63 67(3) 75
(Q) Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. (Q) Arantxa Rus (NED) 60 62
Lucie Safarova (CZE) leads (3) Venus Williams (USA) 76(5) – Suspended due to darkness
First Round – Women’s Singles
(21) Alize Cornet (FRA) d. Maret Ani (EST) 64 75
Press conference comments from rolandgarros.com
Results via: Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog
Marat rues his fate: AP Photo/Michel Euler via Daylife
Marat, bowed and broken PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife