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Tennis

Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 4-Rafa peers into the future

Rafael Nadal won his first French Open when he was a teenager.
Rafael Nadal won his first French Open when he was a teenager. RFI/Pierre René-Worms

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both graced the courts at Roland Garros. Rafa peered lovingly into the future and Roger looked back to offer advice that might shorten his visit to Paris.

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Creaky Kiki’s poor streaky

Kristina Mladenovic is going through something of a slump. The Frenchwoman - who’s nicknamed Kiki - left the Roland Garros party on Day 4 after a pasting on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The Croatian Petra Martic hammered her 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour. Mladenovic, 26, hasn’t recaptured the highs of 2017 when she reached number 11 in the world on the back of a run to the last eight at Roland Garros. Since then she hasn’t even made it into the second week in Paris. The partisans tried to rouse her but to no avail. Maybe there will be a renaissance on the grass court events.

Otte stuff

We rather liked Oscar Otte’s attitude for his second round match against Roger Federer. The 25-year-old German decided he would fight the legend with fire. He unleashed a couple of forehand howitzers against Federer in the opening exchanges on centre court. They’d each hit 10 winners by the time it was 4-4. Federer eventually claimed the set 6-4 after 47 minutes. The Swiss was solid and occasionally spectacular during the rest of the match. The 37-year-old third seed claimed the second 6-3 and the third 6-4 to reach the third round.

Was that wise Roger?

Next up for Mr Federer in the third round is the 20-year-old Norwegian Caspar Ruud. He said it was a dream to play the former world number one and Federer said he liked playing the youngsters.” When you're growing up and thinking to be a professional tennis player, it's not so much about actually playing a certain player, it's about playing on a certain court. He's going to get that on either Suzanne Lenglen or Philippe Chatrier for the next match.” In this regard the leading players enjoy a huge advantage because they know the nooks and crannies of these courts while the tyro is stepping into such arenas for the first time.

Federer added: “For me it was special playing Pete Sampras at Wimbledon when I was 20. You have to take it all in, you know, enjoy the moment. But you have to believe that you have a chance.” I see a "Ruud awakening" headline.

Embarrassing dad’s lad

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is just out of his teens but he already strides among the top 10 in the world. The affable Greek is and among a cluster of players who have been anointed to take the major honours once the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have decided to pursue a life away from thwacking tennis balls. Stefanos is something of a daddy’s boy. Hardly surprising since he’s been coached by his father since he was 12. “It's a privilege working with him “ said Tsitsipas after his second round win over Hugo Dellien from Bolivia.. “It's a big honour to have him next to me by my side. However, daddy is getting a bit of a reputation for his behaviour during matches. “He likes to speak a lot sometimes,” said the son. “He cannot help himself. Umpires and referees are complaining to me that he should keep it low. But it doesn't happen.” Honestly, dad.

Kids are us

The first Wednesday of the French Open is known as the day for children. Masses of them rampage around the venue adding sparkle, noise and mischief to the proceedings. Oh, how we chortle at their antics. Rafael Nadal was told he was popular with the youngsters. And the Spaniard said he liked them too. So much so that he’s opened up a tennis academy back home in Spain.

“I think I am natural, passionate, that's all,” he explained. “It is good to have the kids all around. It's great news because they are the future of this sport. Not only as tennis players but as fans, too."Quite true, Rafa. We remember your teen screams of “vamos”, the pirate shorts, the clenched fists and the knee pumping. Oh, what a rascal you were.

 

 

 

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