Rain held back the start of play by over four hours on Thursday at Roland Garros, with two additional interruptions after that. I think all the rain delays and tricky conditions are starting to make the players a little batty (and the city officials more open to a roof over center court.) It’s still the first week and we already have some mini controversies, games of press room telephone, and plain old dirty talk going on.
There was the continuation of last night’s Fognini vs. Monfils drama.
The two men returned to court on Thursday and Fognini eventually earned some justice, winning the match: 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7. Maybe it was the sweet taste of victory, but Fognini wasn’t too bitter about what happened:
Q. Is it the craziest match you’ve ever played in your career? Is it the greatest emotion in your career?
FABIO FOGNINI: Yes, I think so. It’s a great match. Look at the score. It’s an incredible match. The first time I’ve won such a match with such a crowd on the grand court. I must say I’m very happy. I’m waiting for the next match.
Q. What happened when it was 4 All yesterday evening? To start with, I had the impression you wanted to continue. And then after, your coach said, No, no, no. Stop.
FABIO FOGNINI: Stop, stop. It’s not this way. Stop. It was a difficult question. It was 4 All during the fifth set and a lot of tension. The supervisor walked on the court and he said, Do you want to continue or stop? He wanted to continue, and I said, Okay, we’ll continue. If we can finish the match, is it only two games to play? He said, We’re going to continue and we’ll play two games. I said, Well, for me that’s okay. Two games is okay. If I lose this, he’s going to serve for the match, and then what’s going to happen then? We are going to stop now, or will we continue until who knows?
Q. What happened at the end? We saw the very last points Gaël was serving. He served at 125 kilometers per hour, so not big. Then you pushed the ball. What happened then?
FABIO FOGNINI: I think there was a lot of pressure on us. It was the first time I was playing here on center court with Gaël, and I know him very well. It was a great match, great moment, a lot of tension.
Q. Could you see the ball correctly yesterday evening?
FABIO FOGNINI: No, not really. It was difficult. But that’s tennis. The supervisor decided to continue, so we had to continue until 5 All and then stop the match.
Q. Is it true you had a laser (pointer) yesterday on a return, a return backhand? Is it just once or several times?
FABIO FOGNINI: Yes, first time laser. I said something in Italian, you know, not nice. (laughter.)
Q. Was there tension with Gaël, or was it just with the crowd?
FABIO FOGNINI: No, not with Gaël. I know Gaël very well. We’ve known each other since the juniors. We know each other very well, and there was a bit of clash with the crowd, but that’s normal. It’s the first time, here again, that I played such a moment. It was difficult for me to control my emotions. It was a very long match, and it was 4 All during the fifth set.
Andy Roddick struggled with “brutal” conditions on Thursday afternoon before taking out world No. 113 Blaz Kavcic: 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
ANDY RODDICK: I’m okay going in knowing it’s gonna be possibly crappy tennis. You know, I just want to be the less crappy one out there; whereas before I was maybe a little too concerned with that.
Q. More on this winning ugly theme.
ANDY RODDICK: I don’t know about winning ugly. I don’t want to use that term. [Perhaps because his ex coach, Brad Gilbert, wrote a book about it]
Q. You used it the other day.
ANDY RODDICK: Did I? Slip. I don’t know. Yeah, I mean, I guess so. Definitely wasn’t pretty, so I guess it’s got to be the opposite.
Ana Ivanovic was pounded, 6-3, 6-0, by Alisa Kleybanova on Thursday, the second round exit the worst French Open result in her career. Jelena Jankovic struggled in her match vs. Kaia Kanepi, but got through 6‑2, 3‑6, 6‑4.Definitely not a pretty day on court for the Serbian compatriots, but things got uglier in the press room when both were asked about Jelena’s fist pump imitation after their match in Madrid:
Ana was not pleased:
Q. This is going back a little bit, but you lost to Jelena in Madrid. I was wondering when you heard about that fist pump imitation she did after the match and just what your reaction was.
ANA IVANOVIC: You know, it’s very, very hard for me to comment on that, you know. You know how they say: Sport doesn’t build character. It shows it. Yeah, it’s very hard for me to say.
Jelena says she doesn’t like fists in her face:
Q. So apparently Ana was talking about what happened in Madrid after the match with you and the fist pump. You want to talk about, you know, your version of that? I know it was a big win for you, but why you decided…
JELENA JANKOVIC: What was her version?
Q. Well, she basically said that, you know, sports reveals character. That’s what she was saying.
JELENA JANKOVIC: For me, you know, I don’t need really to comment on that, you know. I don’t think it’s a right time to comment on this kind of thing. [She then proceeds to comment in length, of course]
But for me, as a player, it’s ‑‑ every player has their way of, you know, motivating themselves and pumping themselves up, you know, if you win a point or you didn’t win a point. But I don’t think it’s nice to put it, you know, the fist in their face. That’s what can be a little irritating. That’s the only ‑‑ but all the players, they do, you know, different kind of gestures, you know, with their hands.
But, you know, it’s a little bit ‑‑ when you do that in the player’s face, and especially after not winning a point after your opponent missed an easy ball, I don’t think it’s ‑‑ I don’t think that’s fair play.
That’s just my opinion, and that’s what I, as a player, don’t like to do to other players. If I’m ‑‑ if I win a point or something, I do it, but I don’t go like that in your face (holds up fist). That was only ‑‑ and especially when it comes to maybe me and Ana, we are two girls from the same country, and it’s nice to have a nice relationship and play a normal match. Somebody has to win, and that’s normal.
We’re both professionals. We want to do our best on the court, and I think we should play fair. That’s just my opinion. I have nothing, you know, against her or fist pumps or whatever. I play my game. I have my personality. I’m myself, and it’s none of my business what Ana does or all these other girls on the court. But for me, I prefer to this kind of way like I already explained.
As if that wasn’t enough WTA cattiness for the day, the press asked Jelena about Serena’s “I’m no Justine” comment in Rome.
Q. One more question: You had that great win over Serena in Rome, and then at the end there was the whole thing about the hand. Then she came up to you at net and appeared to apologize in some way, saying she wasn’t trying to stop it? Did she say, I’m not Justine, or I’m not like Justine? What do you remember?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don’t want to comment on that, because that’s between me and Serena, and, you know, she said that I have a nice dress and a nice size, you know, after the match. (laughter.)
So I don’t really want to comment on whatever she said. It doesn’t really matter for the public. It’s ‑‑ you know, we are ‑‑ we played a tough match. It was a great match. We played good tennis, and that’s what matters.
Sometimes there are gonna be some weird moments, but because we’re very competitive, we want to ‑‑ we want to win. I mean, it’s not like we are having a picnic out there or a charity match. This is a professional sport. We want to ‑‑ I mean, both of us want to win, and that’s actually ‑‑ it’s a big battle, and sometimes things happen, but sometimes you don’t mean it, and you’re under this atmosphere whereas sometimes you cannot control your emotions and that can be difficult.
Overall, you know, it was a good match. That’s what I want to remember it as, and I won both ‑‑ I won against both Williams sisters in less than 24 hours, so it was a pretty good tournament for me, and, you know, it was really good for my confidence.
I got two wins against No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, so that means something.
Jankovic finds herself part of quite a few “weird moments” on the WTA tour . Off the top of my head, I can think of various trash talk and “misunderstandings” between her and Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and, most recently, Aravane Rezai. She’ll face Alona Bondarenko in the next round. I’m not sure how they feel about one another, but we’ll probably find out.
39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm’s mini French Open run (she beat Dinara Safina in the first round) came to an end on Thursday, with an 0-6, 3-6 loss to Jarmila Groth. Elena Dementieva got through in straights vs. Medina Garrigues. Seeded players Schiavone, Li, and Peer are all through, but Vera Zvonareva (No. 21), Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 8 ) and Kateryna Bondarenko (No. 32) were all upset.
On the men’s side, Andy Murray (vs. Chela), John Isner (vs. Chiudinelli), Marcos Baghdatis (vs Granollers) and Gabashvili (vs. Zemlja) all scored vicotories.
But plenty of players weren’t so lucky to complete their matches. Six matches were suspended, including Henin’s, Sharapova’s, Bartoli’s and a close one between Ljubicic and Fish. 18 scheduled singles matches never even started, including ones involving Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.