Five things we learned on Day 8 of Roland Garros - Mladenovic says noise is a beast and Muguruza weeps
French hope Kristina Mladenovic played the partisans for all they were worth in her fourth round victory over the defending champion Garbine Muguruza who broke down in tears in her post match press conference. Novak Djokovic was up to his usual japes. Court theatre.
1. Internationaux by name, parochial by nature
Les Internationaux de France date back to 1925. Ever since 1928, they’ve been held at the Roland Garros stadium in the leafy suburb of Auteuil to the west of central Paris. Nowadays, when there’s a local hero or heroine playing, the partisans get involved. They want their man or woman to win. A bit too much sometimes, the review has noticed over the years. It usually backfires though. The French players tend to wilt under the pressure of expectation. The last Frenchwoman to win the title was Mary Pierce in 2000. Yannick Noah was the last Frenchman to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires. That was in 1983. The hunger is deep. Fast forward to 2017, and the crowd have been a bit too itchy. Defending champion Garbine Muguruza mentioned this following her three set defeat to 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic. "I know she's a French player and I understand that," sobbed Muguruza before breaking down in her post match press conference. "I went to the match prepared out there. I understand. I just think that sometimes should be a little bit more respectful for the game because we had to stop. The chair umpire has to always calm the crowd down.” Garbine, Garbine, Garbine. Look at it as a sign of the times. They’re not used to home grown winners.
2. Mlad, the impaler
Kristina Mladenovic is the highest seeded Frenchwoman at the tournament. And by beating the defending champion Garbine Muguruza she reached the last eight for the first time at Roland Garros. And now she’s there, it has to be said she’s got a fair chance of going all the way and winning the title because there aren’t really any hot favourites around. Third seed Simona Halep said before the tournament started that one of about 15 people could win the crown. She wasn’t kidding especially if the crowd are stabbing anyone non-French in the back.
3. Me? pumping up the crowd. Don't know what you're saying.
Let's get all spaghetti western with the good, the Mlad and the ugly. The good first. A rootin' tootin' fourth round clash between two feisty warriors. Trading blow for blow. The Mlad served 16 double faults but toughed her way through to a three set win over the defending champion. That's good. The ugly? Brandishing the racquet to pump up the volume of the crowd. "Honestly, I don't think I exaggerated," said Mlad fluttering her eyelashes. "I think I just communicated with them two, three times." One person's communication is another's gamesmanship. Anyway it's part of the modern world. Must say, we've never seen Rafael Nadal go to the crowd in such an overt manner. "It can be bad for me, too," added Mlad. "Because when I'm in the lead, maybe I'd like a bit of peace and quiet to remain focused and not get overexcited."
4. It’s all about me. ME. ME.
Venus Williams bowed out of the French Open on day eight. She lost in three sets to the 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss gave the veteran American the runaround in the second and third sets with a series of drop shots and slices. Williams, who is still spry at 36, hailed the risky tactic because it paid off. But that’s about where her generosity ended. Any ideas on who will win the women’s event? “I have no idea. It's all behind me now,” she replied. “Whatever happens in this tournament is not necessarily my concern anymore. I'm looking forward into my own next tournament. That is all I can focus on right now.” The ego has flown.
5: I must give the crowd the love.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic saw off Albert Ramos Vinolas in straight sets to move into the quarter-final. After the match the second seed did his usual stuff with the ball boys and ball girls, spoke to the spectators in French and generally gave good coda. "I think over the years wanting to win this tournament so much and failing to do that until last year, you know, we established that connection that was extremely important for me," explained the Serb. "I felt very supported throughout the entire tournament and especially in the final. And I cannot forget that. That's something that will stay in my heart." Our eyes are welling up.
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