Tennis

Five things we learned on Day 9 of Roland Garros - There's music in them thar stands. And Stan Wawrinka is fine with the noise.

Caroline Garcia has overcome recent back injuries to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final following her straight sets win over Alizé Cornet.
Caroline Garcia has overcome recent back injuries to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final following her straight sets win over Alizé Cornet. RFI/Pierre-René Worms

Caroline Garcia won her grudge match against French compatriot Alizé Cornet to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final. And she was kind of lippy afterwards.

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1. They’re very musical, the partisans.

The review has often wondered how certain chants take shape. For example, in the days when Amélie Mauresmo was the great French hope for the women’s singles title here, the crowds used to bawl in three beats. “A-mé-lie. The name could be done in two beats- "Amé-lie", we thought. But no, it was three. And since that’s what the people wanted, they were the ones paying the money. Gael Monfils gets a two beat "Ga-elle" while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is: “Tson-ga” “Tson-ga”. The crowds never tried a three beat “Jo- Willi-freed’. Perhaps, wisely so. There is an intrinsic martial force about his surname. Shame his tennis wasn’t as potent this year. On day nine, the review was out and about watching the matches on the outside courts. We looked in on the boys tournament and chanced upon a local hero Hugo Gaston. He was up against Trent Bryde from the United States. After losing the first set, Gaston took it to a tiebreaker in the second. The crowd urged him on with: “Hu-go Hu-go” Two beats. But to no avail. He saved three match points but Bryde eventually captured the tiebreak 14-12 and so the match. Another Franco-American clash followed between Clément Tabor and Danny Thomas. Sadly there weren’t enough people in the audience to whip up a chant for Clemmie.

2. That’s right, I’m the second seed.

Karolina Pliskova was brushed aside in the opening set of her fourth round match against the unseeded Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg. The 25-year-old from Asuncion won it 6-2 in 31 minutes. Sensing a shock, Pliskova reeled off five games to take control of the second set and won that 6-3. A see-saw third set eventually went Pliskova's way and she is into her first Roland Garros quarter-final.

3. No wonder they call him Iron stan

Stan Wawrinka pulled off a sensation when he came from a set down to dismantle the then world number one Novak Djokovic in the men's singles final in 2015. Wawrinka was asked about the behaviour of the crowd during the fourth round match between local girl Kristina Mladenovic and the defending champion Garbine Muguruza. “I think when there is a lot of atmosphere, that's certainly one of the reasons why I play tennis," said the Swiss who has plied his trade on the circuit in the shadow of another Swiss man. "Even when they support my opponent, I like to play on a court when there is a lot of atmosphere. Even if it's for my opponent.” It’s amazing that this is an issue  at Roland Garros so empty have the stands in the showcourts been at times. But Wawrinka is right. Edge is the essence of the spectacle. “When you play on a wonderful court like Philippe Chatrier, what you want is the public to be there, to support the players or one player or the other player. And that's really what makes you vibrate.” Note to Marin Cilic in the quarter-final: don’t get the crowd to root for you. It might fire up Stan's howitzer backhands.

 

4. And so it ended with a kiss.

Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet haven’t been best mates since Cornet put her name with a couple of other French players to a tweet making light of Garcia’s back injury. And having narked their compatriot, they haven’t been bending over backwards to clear the air. Cornet said in the prelude to her fourth round clash with Garcia on day nine that she had tried. Garcia said that since Cornet hadn’t apologised, that’s not trying in her book. Hence their clash for a place in the last eight of Roland Garros had a very spicy narrative. As for the match? As error strewn as the aftermath of the tweet.  In the second set, Cornet broke Garcia to trail 3-4 but then couldn’t hold her own service. So up stepped Garcia after 1 hour and 22 minutes of play, leading 5-3 to serve for the match. Yep, a couple of loose forehands and a third double fault gave Cornet two break points. A fourth double brought lost her the game. Cornet served to make it 5-5. Cornet then threw in her third and fourth double faults of the match to give Garcia three match points. A Garcia backhand into the net saved one. But a crunching Garcia forehand brought her the win. At the net, Garcia offered the obligatory handshake but then came a kiss. "Oooh",  whooped the crowd.

5. No need for that kind behaviour.

Apparantly the bookmakers had odds of 300 to 1 that Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet would not embrace at the end of the match. What? They're French. The whole nation are at it. Auguste Rodin even made a sculpture of a kiss. It's the law. Garcia smacked her foe 6-2 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final. "It just happened," said Garcia of the post match smacker. "Honestly, this was not prepared." The review honestly hopes not. We don't condone such overt wantonness. "I was very happy," added Garcia. "I shook her hand and then I think I kissed her. But it just came naturally." Oh, that's alright then.

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