Report: Roland Garros 2014

Petkovic, Nadal admit insecurities before Roland Garros semi-final, Halep stays ahead

Andy Murray shakes hands with Gael Monfils after winning their men's quarter-final match
Andy Murray shakes hands with Gael Monfils after winning their men's quarter-final match Reuters/Vincent Kessler

On the 11th day of Roland Garros we learned that Petkovic is insecure about her victories, Nadal is insecure about his backhand, Ferrer should keep his focus, Halep is where she belongs and being eight can get you places.

  • Happy can be a curious place. Andrea Petkovic is into the semi-finals after a 62 62 win over the Italian 10th seed Sara Errani. The German has been expounding on life and stuff after her matches. She was asked to look into her soul and she revealed that she’s rather on tenterhooks at moments of triumph. “Because of the injuries I’ve had, when I play really well … there’s an element of doubt. I’m just so scared that it might slip away again.” Angst for the memory. Could be a song, nein?
  • Time to take feeling out of the game. Coldness clearly is the key. Petkovic outlined on day 11 the ramifications of success. Rafael Nadal meanwhile was similarly distrustful. He said he went into the quarter final match against David Ferrer believing his backhand was on the spot. In his practice sessions he said it was behaving like a dream. But during the the match he said the stroke seemed to be a deposit from the bowels of Beelzebub. A nightmare. Nadal lost the first set and started playing more shots with his forehand – logical that. It seemed to work because from 5-4 up in the second set he went on a heavenly run collecting 10 straight games to take the second and third sets and establish a healthy lead in the fourth.
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  • Quarter-finals are never good times to lose your focus. David Ferrer became the first player at this year’s tournament to take a set off the defending champion Rafael Nadal. Sadly, once Nadal had levelled at one set apiece, Ferrer lost his concentration and was crunched up in four sets.
  • It’s really odd to see someone in the semi-finals who’s supposed to be there. Ever since top seed Serena Williams was eliminated in the second round, the highly ranked players have been doing their utmost to confound everyone. So a hearty cheer for the Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep. She has put everyone in their place. Her latest victim was the Russian 27th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. It was 6-2 6-2 and the victory was all the more impressive as Halep was trying to advance to her first grand slam semi-final and Kuznetsova has a couple of majors, including Roland Garros, under her belt.
  • It’s all about the next generation. The daily review had an operative in the crowd on day 11. The eight-year-old boy – we’ll refer to him as my son - got in with his mother to watch the third, fourth and fifth sets of the Andy Murray v Gaël Monfils quarter-final. Mother and child were at the tournament to traipse around the outside courts but after watching a women’s doubles match, they were lured to the Place des Mousquetaires and the giant screen projecting the images of play inside centre court. Enthused by the cheers and chanting, the little mite wanted to go and be part of the action. As there is no chance to buy tickets officially from people leaving, the only option is to approach them and ask. This is not cricket, according to the organisers. Fortunately the lad’s cherubic features melted the hearts of a couple and in they went. When they emerged from the Monfils meltdown, I was asked by mon fils if I knew who’d won. I was informed. I asked if he’d enjoyed himself. “Yes,” came the reply. Was it a drop shot, a backhand passing shot, a forehand on the run? “The Mexican wave.” Smashing.

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