Roland Garros 2015

French hope Cornet grabs triumph, Berdych shows promise at Roland Garros

France's Alizé Cornet triumphs over  Roberta Vinci of Italy
France's Alizé Cornet triumphs over Roberta Vinci of Italy Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Day two of the French tennis open at Roland Garros saw Alizé Cornet return on the crowd's love, the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych showed grace, Italy's Fabio Fognini was happy and Sharapova disappointed the fans.

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Some love the pressure. 

Over the years, the crowd's love affair with their home-grown players has been a poisoned chalice for some and a source of inspiration for others.

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We’ve seen this yin and yang in Technicolor over the past two days. On day one Caroline Garcia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The 31st seed imploded on centre court against the 18-year old Croatian Donna Vekic after having comfortably won the opener.

On day two the French number one Alizé Cornet grabbed triumph from the teeth of despair against the veteran Italian Roberta Vinci. Cornet lost the first set 6-4 but gritted her way back to claim the second set. She took the decider 6-1 after more than two hours of combat.

“Caroline has a little less experience than me at Roland Garros and sometimes you can be impressed by such a big court,” said Cornet. “Actually I love Philippe Chatrier, it’s my favourite court. I’m always happy to step onto it and play the match.”

Ambiance is a personal thing 

Alizé Cornet, at 25, is the great French hope. And yet she isn’t thought of as a contender for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Amélie Mauresmo was during her heyday. But she never prospered at Roland Garros, wilting under the pressure that Garcia mentioned on day one. Such a shame for a public that loves their tennis.

“The ambiance on the court is amazing,” reflected Cornet after her first round win. “And I think that’s what helped me to come back in this match … because the people were behind me.” 

It’s tough when you’re at the top … but not quite the top 

On the circuit, the Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych is considered one of the best players not to have won a grand slam event. He’s been in the top 10 continuously since July 2010 and is not even in the twilight of his career. Good grief, no. The man is only 29 but time is moving on. He fielded the question of not being deemed a favourite for this year’s crown with grace. “There is a fact that there are other guys who have won a grand slam titles and that’s a fact. The only thing I can do is try to change that by trying to take my chances. That’s all I can do.” 

Fabio by name … only

There’s something endearingly edgy about the Italian Fabio Fognini. Without getting into clichés – for that way lies sweeping generalisations and bigotry – he is a temperamental one.

The 28th seed turned up for his press conference in chipper mood on day two, having seen off Tatsumo Ito. “You seemed calm today,” remarked a journalist. “I am,” replied the player. “You seem surprised. Yeah? Why?” “I’m used to seeing you more excited,” retorted the hack. “I’m happy because I won the first match,” Fognini explained. 

We pays the money … we want our money’s worth 

Given that the spectators on centre court are often few and far between. It’s refreshing to hear those who have bothered to turn up make a noise. There wasn’t much energy transmitted during the match between the defending champion Maria Sharapova and Kaia Kanepi. Sharapova raced into a 3-0 lead before being checked as the Estonian came back to 3-2. Sharapova surged again to take the first set and set herself up nicely in the second. She eventually won it 6-4. And just as the crowd was expecting a post-match interview, off she walked. There were boos and whistles. And no-one trying to take a selfie.

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