Just before engaging in the Parisian fortnight, the last clay charms were on the market all over Europe. In that game, Nicolas Almagro struck a blow retaining his title on clay in Nice.
Nice, Almagro retains his crown
Winning a tournament is nice, retaining one’s title is better. Especially for his bank manager. This week, the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro did everything to keep his property at the Nice Open. It's no surprise that the Iberian disposed of the surprise of the tournament, the American Brian Baker (216th in the world rankings, who was polytraumatized for six years) in less than an hour and ten minutes (6-3, 6 -2)., with great movement, the forehand of a Transformer and a mind of steel. A trio sufficient for him to leave the French Riviera with a smile. The Spaniard knows he sent a strong message to his compatriots on tour: "I played my best tennis, I’m very happy with my game. It's incredible to win here again. It gives me great confidence before Roland Garros. I'll try to play like I did today
" We all know though, Almagro doesn’t stand a chance against Nadal. That's life.
« It's difficult to say because this is not really like a regular injury. Even the doctors have trouble telling me when I can be back. The most important thing is I'm feeling better and better. Now I am where I feel pretty good during the days and I can do everything, but training - and especially a little bit more intense training - my body cannot take it, I get too tired. Then, of course, it's a question of when I can start to train again. I don't know if that's going to be in one month or one year or whatever »
After months of silence, Robin Soderling finally spoke up. This week, the former world number four spoke about his illness for the first time during a telephone press conference: glandular fever, an infection that has kept him side-lined for the past ten months.
Uniqlo. This Japanese company doesn’t ring a bell? Well, that’s normal, Uniqlo had never ventured into the world of sports. Until last week, that is. Novak Djokovic has signed a contract with them for the next five years. Formerly with Sergio Tacchini (the Italian manufacturer could not keep up, financially, with the frantic pace of the Serbian), Nole's moved on. For now, no shirt branded with the name of Serbian is available yet but the brand promised that the profits of the first line of t-shirts bearing the image of the world No. 1 will be donated to the foundation the player set up to fund projects for kids.
Brussels, Radwanska at a canter
The beautiful Pole Agnieszka Radwanska is “only” third worldwide. However, since the 1st January, no one has won as many games as her, a run she continued in imperious style on the clay courts of Brussels Open with BNP Paribas Fortis. Seeded No. 1 in the tournament, Radwanska toyed with the Romanian Simona Halep in the final (7-5, 6-0), adding a new line to add to an already bulging 2012 list of honours after Dubai and Miami. Always in the shadow of Arazenka and Sharapova, the Pole is clearly set to be a dangerous challenger at Roland Garros. A tournament she approaches like a diesel engine: "On clay, I need time to warm up, not just five minutes before the match." How about that?
An exhibition match. This is what Agnieszka Radwanska delivered in Brussels Open with BNP Paribas Fortis against the Romanian Halep. Too strong, too powerful, too beautiful, too fast, too smart. In short, the Pole did not come to string beads but points. And as quickly as possible, to make sure she wouldn’t be late to Roland Garros. The proof in pictures:
Serena Williams has a funky haircut, shapes to make Beyoncé jealous and a certain idea of tennis. When the American doesn’t demolish half of the planet on the tennis courts, Serena gets in a DJ mood with Bob Sinclar at Roland Garros. The French DJ posted the photo on his Twitter account:
« With Dj Serena Williams :-) »
Strasburg, Schiavone wakes up before Paris
Surprise winner at Roland Garros in 2010, the Italian Francesca Schiavone has been struggling to keep up the pace since then. In Strasburg, the thirty-something who was showing signs of a late-career slide (2-7 on clay, 8-14 on all surfaces) wanted first and foremost to recover. This she did following her victory over Alizé Cornet in the final (6-4, 6-4) in an otherwise unexceptional final that Schiavone handled with experience and baseline superiority. Between smiles for the photographers, the former world number four said "I didn’t play good tennis for a while. When I'm home and I go out dinner, people tell me I'm sad. When I’m eliminated in the first round of a tournament, how can I be happy? Now I will be able to smile and win more games." Ever the romantic…
The downside of playing outdoors, it’s our feathered friends, and especially their charming droppings, among other things. To avoid suffering this potential inconvenience, the organizers of Roland Garros have found a solution: Falcons. Let loose in the skies above the Porte d'Auteuil, the raptors - monitored by the Paris Police - are there to hunt down the pigeon population of the city. At first sight, the method seems to have been quite effective in the past few years.
The ranking: 93
It’s the ranking of the Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Nicknamed the "Little Prince", a golden future was predicted for him. At 23, Ernests is still yet to take off. With the exception of a quarter-final at Roland Garros in which he lost to Djokovic, Gulbis has never passed the second rounds of a Grand Slam since 2008. Following Richard Gasquet’s example, no doubt....
By Mathieu Faure