2015/05/23

Novak Djokovic Could Face Rafael Nadal in the French Open Quarterfinals

RG mens draw

(May 22, 2015) Friday’s Roland Garros draw has nine-time champion Rafael Nadal projected to face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Nadal, who is now No. 7 in the world is the sixth seed at the French Open this year.

Nadal who is 66-1 on the red clay of Paris, comes into the French Open this year with five clay court losses and no clay titles.

Djokovic comes into Paris seeking the last major prize he’s yet to earn – a French Open crown. The Serb not only has Nadal on his side of the draw, but also No. 3 Andy Murray, David Ferrer and 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Potential men’s quarterfinals:

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray vs David Ferrer

Tomas Berdych vs Kei Nishikori

Stan Wawrinka vs Roger Federer

 

Men’s Draw

 

As for the women, No. 1 Serena Williams could have a challenging road ahead of her. The two-time champion could face No. 27 seed Victoria Azarenka in the third round, her sister Venus or Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, friend Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, with Petra Kvitova in the semifinals.

Serena Williams will play a qualifier in the opening round, while her Venus will face Sloane Stephens.

 

Potential Women’s Quarterfinals:

Serena Williams vs Caroline Wozniacki

Eugenie Bouchard vs Petra Kvitova

Ana Ivanovic vs Simona Halep

Maria Sharapova vs Carla Suarez Navarro

 

Women’s Draw

 

 

The French Open begins on Sunday, May 24.

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Martina Navratilova Talks French Open on Tennis Channel Media Conference Call

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(May 20, 2015) Ahead of the French Open, which begins on Sunday, May 24, Tennis Channel held a media conference call with tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, who serves as the lead women’s analyst for the network.

Here is the transcript of the conference call, courtesy of the Tennis Channel and ASAPsports:

There’s a lot of increased scrutiny of late for even for minor tournaments. Time was that there was almost no attention paid to them and all attention was paid to the majors. And do you think that that scrutiny on these tune‑ups heightens the stakes for when the majors come out, like Roland‑Garros?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I’m not sure I understand the question. You’re saying there’s too much media attention on the Grand Slams and not on anything else?

No, I think when you were playing tennis, there wasn’t a lot of attention, media attention ‑‑ they didn’t broadcast minor tennis events.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, it’s the other way around. It’s the other way around, actually. In my opinion we had, it was the Tour that really buttressed the Grand Slams and certainly the players, we didn’t even play some Grand Slams because the Tour was the more important bit of the calendar. And it was only really in the late, maybe, ’80s and the ’90s that the Grand Slams became so powerful and players would schedule their whole year around slams. Nobody would even think of missing a slam now.

And those are the four big focal points of the year, whereas in my time it was Wimbledon and U.S. Open and the Tour as a whole and then the year‑ending championships was the third biggest tournament of the year. So I think the media did pay attention to the other tournaments and certainly the players were thinking that the other tournaments were more important, perhaps, than they are now.

And why was that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Why? Because there was more prize money in the regular tournaments than Grand Slams. Once the Grand Slams got bigger and got more money, more people paid attention to where the money is, basically. And also more worldwide television rights and media attention and all that.

So one kind of followed the other. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken and the egg thing, but we would get more money for, I think the prize money at the year‑end championships was like twice as much and that was for one week than what you would get in a Grand Slam for two weeks. You can do some research on the prize money, but it was a lot more on the regular tour.

I made more money winning a tournament in Dallas, Virginia Slims of Dallas, than I would at a Grand Slam ‑‑ than I would Wimbledon. When I won Wimbledon in ’78 I got, I think, $20,000 for winning it.

 

I suppose, Martina, that the focal point coming into the French Open is the prospects of Rafa Nadal. What have you seen this year in Rafa, what is he lacking that he hasn’t in the past and has age finally taken its toll on him?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don’t know how much of it is ‑‑ I think it’s a little bit of everything. He seems to me a little bit less physically looking imposing. And I don’t know if it’s just my imagination. Just doesn’t seem to be as muscular as he was five or six years ago.

 

But he’s still in the prime of his physical life, maybe he trains differently maybe because of his injuries he can’t train as hard as he used to, but not sure.

 

Most of all I think it’s the other players are playing better and hitting a lot more top spin on the ball, hitting the ball harder, which does not give him the time to run around his backhand and dictate with the forearm, he has to kind of be more in the middle of the court.

 

He can’t park himself on the right side of the court. And also by his own admission, he gets more nervous now. And when he does get more nervous, his forehand goes shorter. Even when he does get to hit the forehand, he doesn’t hit it as deep, with as much, with as much depth and maybe power.

 

I’m not sure. You would have to kind of figure out the revolutions per minute. But I would bet dollars to donuts that the other players are using more spin than they did two years ago, 10 years ago, certainly. So that could be a combination of everything.

 

Was his effectiveness on clay a factor of how much top spin he could put on the ball and the fact that the ball dug in so great?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: His movement and the top spin, yeah. Because of the top spin, players had a hard time attacking it and getting on top of the ball. And once they get on the defense, it was really hard to get off it. And his unbelievable speed around the court.

 

But do you still think he’s anywhere near the prime of his career at this point?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it could be that he’s just having a bad year or bad six months, whatever. We don’t know if he’s 100 percent healthy because only he knows that and his team.

 

So people tend to write people off too soon I think in my opinion. I mean, Roger Federer said himself, until Rafa loses at the French he still has to be a favorite. You can’t just throw out the last 10 years based on the last few months.

 

But certainly he’s, I’m sure, feeling most vulnerable. And he’s looking most vulnerable. And that gives the other guys confidence when they play him. Before it was, like, I don’t want to get embarrassed playing Rafa and now they think they have a chance. That’s a huge edge to them. Now he’s forced to play even better to beat the same guy.

 

So it’s kind of a nasty spiral that happens. But I still wouldn’t write him off. I mean, you can’t. You just cannot. Three out of five is a different animal as well. It’s harder to keep up that kind of intensity and physical play that it takes to beat Rafa over three out of five sets as opposed to two out of three ‑‑ and gives him some room for his own game as well.

 

I know we don’t have a draw yet, but who do you favor as winning on the men’s side and the women’s side in singles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think so much will depend on the draw in both of these. But particularly on the men’s side, with Rafa, I believe he’s ranked 7. So he could be playing these top three players in the quarters as opposed to the semis or finals.

That makes it difficult for whosever quarter he lands in and everything else how it plays out as well. Andy Murray now is looking like one of the favorites as well. Novak obviously is a huge favorite to win the event. But I’m sure that he’s not thinking that way, not yet. Not as long as Rafael Nadal is in the tournament.

 

So it’s really going to depend on who gets hot and how the draw plays out. The same time you only have to play seven guys. You don’t have to play everybody. But still the draw may dictate a lot in how the conditions are, the balls are pretty light. But conditions can get heavy.

 

So all of that will play out and that’s the beauty of it. We really don’t know. But all in all, if you just look at how this year has played out, Djokovic, it would be hard to, again, bet against Djokovic. And the same thing on the women’s side, Serena Williams, even though she’s had a odd run up to the French.   In years past, the run up the Grand Slam really had nothing to do with how she did at that Grand Slam.

 

So you still have to go with the world’s number one ‑‑ Novak and Serena.

 

Can you tell me what you miss from the era that you played tennis, what you miss on the tennis scene now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s just a different time. You get the pluses and minuses. I do miss more of the clash of styles.

There was more variety in styles with the typical baseliner and the all‑court players and then the more of the serve and volleyers, attacking players. It’s now a more homogenous look, but at the same time on the women’s side particularly I see more variety than they’ve had five years ago, 10 years ago. The guys have been there for a while.

 

But the women, I think, were more homogenous in that, for example, I keep going back to the final between Kuznetsova and Dementieva in the 2004 U.S. Open final. And I think there was one volley, one drop shot and three slices the whole match.

And now, you know, you get that in one rally. So you have a lot more variety with the actual play, which makes it more fun. I think the spectators are in for better treats nowadays with more variety.

People still play similarly but there’s more variety within that.

 

Still play similarly to when you were playing ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, they play similar to each other. They play similar style. More of a ‑‑ I mean, there are two basic styles. Ones that really try to play big babe tennis, as Mary Carillo calls it, and then there are the counter puncher’s. But within the big babe tennis you see a lot more people using slices and coming into the net, putting the volley away. And same with the counter punchers, now they just don’t play defense, if they can get on offense they will do so.

 

And again a lot more slices, a lot more drop shots. You see Maria Sharapova, she’s hitting drop hands from the backhand and the forehand. She never hit a drop shot 10 years ago, now she uses it very well.

 

She hits them from the baseline.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Drop shots are usually hit from the baseline. But she’s usually in an offensive position so she plays them at the right time. And she’s hitting between volley. You won’t see chip and charge, but you will see her, as soon as she hits a deep, good ball, she’ll move in to see if she can knock off the next ball in the air, but she’ll hit swinging volleys rather than punch volleys that we used to hit. But still hitting volleys.

 

Were you asked about Maria Sharapova in general and what you think her chances are coming in?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously great. And they’re always improved when she ‑‑ well, with Maria, obviously it’s a case whether she has to play Serena Williams or not because she hasn’t beat her in 10 years. But she’s been the best clay court player the last three years, except she hadn’t been able to beat Serena, but she’s beaten everybody else and has the most consistent record on clay than everybody. So she has to be one of the favorites. But it always comes with a caveat ‑‑ what happens if she plays Serena? Serena particularly now is kind of an unknown because of the run‑up that she’s had, not really finishing tournaments or didn’t finish two and one she lost in the semis. So it’s hard to tell.

 

But Serena always comes out playing her best tennis in the slams. So, yeah, absolutely Maria has to be one of the favorites. She must be pretty well after Rome, kept playing better and better tennis. Although, also the matches were pretty close, particularly the semifinal in Rome. Could have gone either way.

 

What is it with her and Serena, do you think ‑‑ how much of it is mental and how much of it is just her game, and what do you think she would have to do to finally overcome Serena if they were to meet at the end there?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She would have to serve extremely well, because that’s what Serena always has on, all things being equal, which they’re not; but Serena serves, wins so many more points off her serve, whereas with Maria the serve has been more of a ‑‑ it’s either neutral or it can even be a negative for her starting the points against Serena.

 

So she needs to serve really well. But she has been serving better in Rome, particularly she was hitting her second serve in the high 90s, her second serve was coming in.

So she was getting on the offense with her second serve, never mind the first serve. But Serena does everything a little bit better than Maria or some things a lot better, the serving is a lot better.

 

And the ground stroke she can now sustain a rally, 10 shots, 20 shots, and then go for the ‑‑ when she goes for the jugular she hits it just a little bit harder than Maria.

 

And Maria’s foot speed hurts her against Serena. She’s gotten so much better. She’s quick enough against most players. But she can’t defend as well. Serena defends better than Maria if she has to. And her foot speed is better around the court. And that hurts Maria. She needs to be on offense. But with Serena she has a hard time getting on offense because Serena tees off so early in the rally, whether the serve or return of serve.

 

And also Serena, clearly, plays her best Sundays against Maria Sharapova. She totally rises to the occasion where she might be a bit listless against other opponents or maybe give them a set, maybe not the match, but give them a set. With Maria, she doesn’t give away points, never mind sets. She’s always fired up.   You can see how badly both of them want it.

 

In following up on that, that rivalry seems to really be one, we always talk about how the game, whether it’s men or women, that rivalries is such a big deal in tennis. And this Serena/Maria one is one that still carries after so many years. Would you agree it’s one of the best rivalries in women’s tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s amazing that it carries because it’s so one‑sided. But it’s the personality of the two players involved that makes it so compelling, no matter what the result.

So it’s great for tennis. I mean, tennis is such a one‑on‑one battle that the rivalries are an essential part of that.

 

You want to identify with the people. You want to identify with the personalities. You want to identify with their game, and the only way to do that is if there’s a rivalry going on.

 

I mean, people love Rafa Nadal and they love Roger Federer, but they always fall into one camp more than the other, and will cheer for their player against the other, no matter what.

So it’s funny. And obviously you have that with Williams and Sharapova for different reasons. It’s just been a one‑sided result for the most part.

 

What is the lifetime, is it like 17‑2 or something?

 

 

I’d have to look it up, but that sounds close. It’s not close at all, yeah.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I mean, it’s been 10 years, but it hasn’t been that much matches. I think 15 matches in a row. I think ‑‑ I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But it’s over a long period of time.

 

I beat Chris Evert at one point 13 times in a row, but it was like in a two‑, two‑and‑a‑half‑year period. It didn’t seem that insurmountable. It just came in a closer chunk of time. It think it’s more difficult for Maria to deal with it because it’s been over such a long length of time.

 

 

She’s probably thinking: Sheesh, I was so young the last time I beat her.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah.

 

Could you just maybe pick a couple of dark horses on the men’s and the women’s side and kind of like skim off the top, the Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, on the other side, Sharapova and Williams, could you just pick out a few players who you think have a chance to ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To win the whole thing? That’s a tall order. There’s a lot of players that can beat anybody on a given day. But to go all the way? I guess on the men’s side, Murray. Maybe not that dark, because he’s, what, 3 or 4 in the world.

And maybe Berdych also. He’s been playing some good ball but seems to falter still against the top guys. But he certainly looks fit and very focused and on a given day can compete against anybody.

 

And for just upsets, Kyrgios. Kyrgios, with that serve, can give anybody fits. I’m pretty sure the top players don’t really want to see him too close to them in the draw because he’s a flashy and can be an extremely dominating player the way he plays.

But this is clay, so hopefully it shouldn’t happen. But never know with him.

 

And on the women’s side, again dark horse, Halep can’t be a dark horse, she was in the finals last year. But she hasn’t broken through yet. So dark horse would be anybody to me that hasn’t won a Grand Slam.

 

I’m sorry?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To me, a dark horse would be anybody that hasn’t won a Grand Slam, because then you haven’t done it yet, so we’re not really sure whether it’s going to happen or not.

So Halep would be in that category, certainly, but she’s 3 in the world. So, again, it’s hard to imagine somebody outside of top 10 going all the way on either women or men. They would just have to beat too many quality players.

 

I mean, there could be an opening in the draw where people kind of somehow scrape their way to the semis. But that’s hard to predict. It’s easier to predict a little bit once the draw comes out.

But it’s been such an up‑and‑down lead‑up to the tournament on the women’s side with Serena not finishing a tournament the last three she played, lost in the semis and defaulted the other two, correct?

 

And then you have Petra Kvitova winning in Madrid, playing amazing tennis, and then losing to Suárez Navarro easily. Suárez Navarro given that she can beat anybody, but I don’t think she has the firepower to go all the way, but you could see her in the finals as well.

 

And then there’s a player like Caroline Garcia on a given day can beat anybody. What’s the ‑‑ Pliskova, another Czech, who has got a big game. Perhaps not so suited for clay but grew up on the stuff.

 

She can hang with anybody. So it’s hard to tell but you still have to go with the favorites. Serena and Novak, obviously.

 

 

You were running off some names on the women’s side as possibilities. But one of them isn’t Sloane Stephens. Do you think she’s taken a step or two back from where she was about a year and a half ago?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think she’s moving back the right direction now. It seems to me since she’s been working with Nick ‑‑ God, I have a blank now ‑‑ the lefty. Nick Saviano. Complete blank. I see his face.

 

Since she’s been working back with Nick she’s been playing better tennis. I think she’s feeling more the urgency of not taking her time developing but, rather, making it happen quicker rather than slower.

 

So, yeah, she doesn’t have the cache and the promise maybe she held two or three years ago, but I think it’s still there if she just believes in it. On clay, her game does not transfer well on clay with her big forehand and a good serve.

 

It’s better suited for hard courts or grass. And also I’m not sure how well she moves on the clay. She’s such an amazing mover that on the clay she gets a little hampered because she can’t really push off that fast. I think, again, she’s better on grass or a hard court. But certainly looks like to me that she’s going in the right direction again, which is good to see.

 

Can you talk about the French Open and kind of what you love about that tournament in comparison to the other majors and other tournaments and what you think makes that event special in your eyes?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The intimacy of it all. You can really get close to the players there, and it’s a smaller venue. So there’s a lot more going on within any area and you just feel, I think, the fans more there because when the Philippe‑Chatrier Court opens up and match finishes, everybody spills out and it gets pretty crowded.

 

And, of course, the red clay. It’s the only big tournament, well, the only slam that’s on red clay. And just the color makes you smile, you know.

So it’s one of a kind. And you’re in Paris. I mean, how tough can it be?

 

One off‑beat question. Does that red clay come out in the laundry, like from your socks and ‑‑ or are all the outfits ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Anytime the players fall on the ground, we say, oops, there went that skirt; there went that shirt. Socks, you throw out, because when you sweat and you get the clay on it, it’s goodbye.

 

So when that tournament’s over, everything just goes in the garbage?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yep.

 

And the shoes, too?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the shoes, you go on the grass. So, yes, they get pretty ‑‑ I mean, you may save them for other clay court tournaments. But most of the time the players, the shoes last a couple of days. That’s it.

I used to go through two pairs of shoes a week. I think the guys change them every match. And now maybe the women do, too. Depends on the kind of shoe. But they’re gone after a week, for sure. So definitely don’t save those.

Wondered if there was some great laundry detergent that got that clay out?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: If it’s there, I don’t know it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

Related article:

Tennis Channel Expands French Open Coverage with Two New Shows

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Tennis Channel Expands French Open Coverage with Two New Shows

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From Tennis Channel: LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2015 -In its ninth year of French Open coverage, Tennis Channel is launching two new preview shows that dive into the many variables of match ups and outcomes that could happen at the Paris-based major this year. The network will dedicate more than 13 total hours to Racquet Bracket: French Open and Tennis Channel Live at the French Open, premiering Friday, May 22, 8 p.m. ET and Saturday, May 23, 12 p.m. ET, respectively. Starting on Opening Day Sunday, May 24, through the men’s semifinals Friday, June 5, Tennis Channel will take viewers through 12 days of live coverage at the 2015 French Open, followed by same-day encore matches during the championship weekend. During the two-week event in the City of Light, the network will deliver more than 260 total hours of day-to-night coverage of the tournament, with more than 85 hours of live or first-run matches, nearly 45 hours of encore replays, and 122 hours of three-hour nightly primetime show French Open Tonight (37-and-a-half first-run) hosted by Bill Macatee.

 

“Tennis Channel has consistently added to its French Open coverage both on-air and digitally over the years,” said Jeremy Langer, vice president of programming, Tennis Channel. “We are continuing this with Racquet Bracket: French Open and Tennis Channel Live at the French Open, both of which will provide excellent context for viewers as we go into the tournament.”

 

Hall of Famer Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin), 2007 French Open doubles champion Mark Knowles (@knowlzee10s) and award-winning sportscaster Steve Weissman (@Steve_Weissman) begin the network’s coverage, on the eve of the tournament, as hosts of the new one-hour French Open-draw show Racquet Bracket: French Open. The show breaks down the French Open draw, analyzing possible match ups that could take place in each round. Additionally, the show serves as an added boon for fans who partake in the network’s free annual online “Racquet Bracket” French Open prediction game.

 

Former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) along with 1998 French Open mixed doubles champion Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob) and renowned commentators Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) and Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) will host the network’s new Tennis Channel Live at the French Open, a one-hour preview show, which takes place from the Tennis Channel set on tournament grounds in Paris. They will take the audience through the pageantry and prestige of the French Open as tennis’ top talent prepare to make history in one of the oldest stadiums in the sport – Stade Roland Garros.

 

The network’s usual daily schedule at the French Open is made up of nine-hour match blocks, which begin at 10 a.m. ET. Within each block, live coverage goes from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET most days, with encore replays from 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. ET. Directly following is the nightly recap show French Open Tonight at 7 p.m. ET. After its initial run, the show then re-airs throughout the evening until the following morning. A complete schedule is available below.

French Open Tonight typically premieres from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. ET. It then airs two more times until 4 a.m. ET. Bill Macatee (@Bmacatee) – one of America’s most respected sportscasters – has hosted every season of the show, now in its ninth year. The program provides a nightly discussion of that day’s tournament action, and viewers can see interviews with top players, the day’s best highlights, feature pieces, and full-set and game replays when needed. Macatee talks with many guests on the show, from players fresh from the court to top coaches and tennis officials, as well as Hall of Famers, celebrities, reporters, network analysts and more.

 

Following early morning encore editions of French Open Tonight, the network will air daily highlights, from 4 a.m.-5 a.m. ET, produced by the French Open’s governing body, the French Tennis Federation. Directly following the highlights, ESPN2 begins its coverage at the start of each day’s play at 5 a.m. ET. As they have done since 2007, Tennis Channel and ESPN2 are offering viewers virtually non-stop, 24-hour coverage of the French Open. Tennis Channel produces all telecasts for both networks, with each cross-promoting the other’s telecast.

 

The week prior to the start of the French Open, Tennis Channel has a full slate of programming geared toward the tournament. In addition to the two new preview shows, viewers will be able to watch some of the best classic matches from recent French Open history. Starting May 19 through May 21, Tennis Channel will unveil a new classic match each day, ending with last year’s men’s final battle between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on May 23. Other matches include: Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer (2005 semifinal); Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova (2013 final); and Garbine Muguruza versus Serena Williams (2014 second round).

 

On-Air Talent

Tennis Channel’s on-air talent for the French Open, in addition to French Open Tonight host Macatee and Racquet Bracket: French Open‘s Austin, Knowles and Weissman, includes lead women’s analyst, Hall of Famer and two-time French Open champion Martina Navratilova (@Martina). Navratilova, who has won more singles titles than anyone who has ever played professional tennis, and Macatee have appeared together on air for every Tennis Channel Grand Slam telecast. They started their dynamic relationship with the 2007 French Open.

 

Joining Macatee and Navratilova are fellow Hall of Famers and former World No. 1s Lindsay Davenport, a host of Tennis Channel Live at the French Open, and Jim Courier, a two-time French Open winner. This will be Davenport’s sixth and Courier’s second French Open as analysts for Tennis Channel. Also contributing to hosting as well as on-air duties is Mary Carillo, who will be serving as a live desk host, analyst and reporter in her fifth French Open as a part of the Tennis Channel team.

 

Adding to the talent in the broadcasting booth is Tennis Channel Live at the French Open host Justin Gimelstob and USTA President Katrina Adams (@katadams68) in their ninth and eighth years with Tennis Channel at the French Open. Adams, who won 21 doubles titles on the WTA tour, is the first former professional player to ascend to the top position. Coming to the City of Light for his second year at the French Open with the network is the much storied Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone). Known for his coaching of Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and American star Sloane Stephens, Annacone will continue to part of the Tennis Channel booth.

 

Tennis Channel’s award-winning commentators will continue to bring their talent and know-how to Paris for the network. They include Ted Robinson (@tedjrobinson) in his ninth French Open for Tennis Channel, Ian Eagle (ninth), and former player and longtime tennis broadcaster Leif Shiras (@LShirock; eighth).

 

The Tennis Channel on-air team also includes Tennis Channel Live at the French Open hosts Brett Haber and Jon Wertheim. This is award-winning announcer Haber and Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer Wertheim’s fourth French Open with the network. Haber will serve as a commentator and announcer while Wertheim will again handle special reports as well as offer commentary for Tennis Channel.

 

Broadband and Digital Coverage

Tennis Channel’s Tennis Channel Everywhere app is free to all Apple and Android users regardless of whether they subscribe to Tennis Channel, and it contains daily updates, online video highlights, Court Report news updates and player Bag Check and instruction clips for no additional charge. However, most of those viewers who subscribe to the network through a cable provider can watch the channel live whenever and wherever they want, through a TV Everywhere function, also at no extra cost.

 

Tennis Channel Plus, the network’s groundbreaking digital subscription service launched at last year’s tournament, will have a continuous live feed of multi-court coverage, with up to five courts available to stream the first five days of the tournament, and then three courts the next three days.

 

Tennis Channel Plus’ more than 360 hours of live coverage includes late-round matches like the women’s singles semifinals.

 

Again in 2015, veteran tennis reporters Steve Flink and Joel Drucker (@joeldrucker) will be covering all the action on Paris’ clay courts and filing columns directly to Tennis Channel’s website, www.tennischannel.com. Besides up-to-the-minute news and detailed analysis from Drucker and Flink, fans will also have access to interactive tournament draws, real-time scoring, photos, daily highlights, interviews, features and segments from French Open Tonight through the Tennis Channel website.

 

For additional content, Tennis Channel’s social media platforms will offer a multi-platform experience for fans looking to stay engaged across the entirety of the tournament. To connect with Tennis Channel, visit: Facebook (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel), YouTube (www.youtube.com/tennischannel), Instagram (http://instagram.com/tennischannel) and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/tennischannel).

 

Tennis Channel’s Live 2015 French Open Match Schedule

(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)

 

Date                                        Time (ET)                  Event                                     

Sunday, May 24                      10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        First-Round Action

Monday, May 25                    10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        First-Round Action

Tuesday, May 26                    10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        First-Round Action

Wednesday, May 27               10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        Second-Round Action

Thursday, May 28                   10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        Second-Round Action

Friday, May 29                       10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        Third-Round Action

Saturday, May 30                   5 a.m.-Noon                Third-Round Action

Sunday, May 31                      5 a.m.-1 p.m.               Round-of-16 Action

Monday, June 1                      10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.        Round-of-16 Action

Tuesday, June 2                      8 a.m.-1 p.m.               Quarterfinals

Thursday, June 4                     6 a.m.-9 a.m.               Mixed-Doubles Final

Thursday, June 4                 9 a.m.-2 p.m.             Women’s Semifinals (Tennis Channel Plus)

Friday, June 5                         7 a.m.-11 a.m.             Men’s Semifinal

 

This year, French Open encore match coverage on Tennis Channel will include same-day replays of the men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals, semifinals and finals as well as the men’s and women’s doubles finals, as follows (ET):

 

Wednesday, June 3 – 1 p.m.-7 p.m.: men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals

Thursday, June 4 – 2 p.m.-7 p.m.: women’s semifinals

Friday, June 5 – 5 p.m.-12 a.m.: men’s semifinals

Saturday, June 6 – 9 p.m.-11 p.m.: women’s final; 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m.: men’s doubles final

Sunday, June 7 – 9 p.m.-12 a.m.: men’s final; 12 a.m.-1:30 a.m.: women’s doubles final

 

(Additional encores will air subsequent days of the tournament and during the week of June 8.)

 

Tennis Channel’s French Open Tonight Schedule (ET)

French Open Tonight will premiere from Sunday, May 24 through Friday, May 29, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Immediately following each premiere are back-to-back replays from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. and 1 a.m.-4 a.m. During the first weekend of the tournament, French Open Tonight will debut from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and will re-air three consecutive times, 6 p.m. -9 p.m.; 9 p.m.-12 a.m.; 12 a.m.-3 a.m. on Saturday, May 30, and on Sunday, May 31.

 

For the second week of the tournament, French Open Tonight will premiere Monday, June 1, from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. followed by three encores, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.; 1 a.m.-3:30 a.m.; 4:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m. On Tuesday, June 2, the show will debut from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. followed by four encores from 8 p.m.-11 p.m.; 11 p.m.-2 a.m.; 2 a.m.-4:30 a.m.; 4:30-7:30 a.m. On Wednesday, June 3, French Open Tonight will premiere from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. followed by two encores from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. and 1 a.m.-4 a.m. The final French Open Tonight will debut Thursday, June 4, and will consist of a four-and-a-half hour special edition from 7 p.m.-11:30 p.m. and will run again once, from 11:30 p.m.-4 a.m.

     

 

     

 

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United States Tennis Association Media Conference with USTA French Open Wild Cards Louisa Chirico and Frances Tiafoe

United States Tennis Association Media Conference Transcript

May 11, 2015

Louisa Chirico

Frances Tiafoe

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Welcome to today’s teleconference.  Joining us today on the line are Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico, the winners of the 2015 Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
Both Frances and Louisa will be competing in the French Open for the first time later this month after earning wild cards into the main draw.
At this time we’ll open up the call for questions.

Q.  Frances, your first visit to the French Open last year didn’t go probably quite as well as you had expected.  What did you learn from that that you’ll take into this year’s tournament?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Well, definitely this year I’m a wild card.  Last year I was one seed in juniors.  Had a lot of pressure on me.  Now I’m going in with no pressure.  Just going to have a lot of fun, just play my game.  Going to soak it all in.

Q.  Could you clarify for me what your coaching situation is.  I read recently that you’re working with Jose Higueras.  Can you explain how that is working.
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Today we had our first practice.  It went good.  I’ve worked with him in the past before.  I think he’s a really good coach.
I think it was a smart move for me.  He’s coached a lot of great players in the past.  He’s also a great player himself.  I thought I needed some extra information.

Q.  Have you played your last Kalamazoo?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  That’s a tough question.  I know you love the tournament more than anything.  I know you’re there every year.
I’m still up in the air whether I’ll be taking a flight to Kalamazoo in the future.

Q.  Frances, I’d read that you liked some of the clay court players from Argentina.  I wanted to ask about what’s drawn you to clay or what you most love about playing on clay courts, then also what you liked about del Potro and Puerta’s approach to playing clay court tennis?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  He’s really the only Argentinian player I like other than Nalbandian.  He has such a good game, hits the ball so hard.  I’d really like to model my game after that, first‑strike tennis, yeah.
I also like his personality.  He loves the game.  The crowds really love to watch him play, and so do I.

Q.  About signing with Roc Nation.  There have been some hip hop performers who know tennis really well.  What have your conversations with Jay Z been like in terms of tennis and also your future?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  We haven’t had too many conversations yet.  I’ve been on the road a lot.  Haven’t really seen him.
I’m sure he has great expectations for me.  Hopefully I can reach my goals, my ultimate goals.

Q.  Louisa, obviously a battle down the stretch for you and Kat to get the wild card.  What are you looking forward to for your first slam main draw?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I mean, we had a couple of tough battles over the last three weeks.  To win the wild card just means so much.
I’m really excited to go play in Paris.  It will be my first Grand Slam main draw.  It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.

Q.  Frances, do you think having been on the grounds of the French Open, not having it be totally new, will make it an easier transition to this big level?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  Yeah, for sure, for sure.  Knowing everything, whatnot, it’s definitely going to be a better experience.
Louisa went pretty far in the juniors herself.  I think she likes Paris a little more than I do.

Q.  Louisa, can you talk about the Wild Card Challenge and how you feel about the process of earning the wild card through the USTA Pro Circuit events.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.  It’s a great opportunity for all of us as players to compete for it.  Over the three weeks, there’s obviously very heavy competition.  It’s nice to be able to compete and then earn the wild card.
Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity that the USTA’s given us.

Q.  What was it like for you?  It was a very tight race.  You clinched it at the very end.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I think all of us were kind of playing under pressure for those three weeks.  We all fought really hard and all obviously really wanted the wild card.
It did come down to the last week, which is great.  I’m really happy to have won it at the end.  So, yeah, I’m really excited.

Q.  Frances, what do you think of the whole process of earning the wild card through the USTA Pro Circuit?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  It was good.  Three weeks, I think whoever wins it well deserves it.  You have three good weeks, all the Americans that play, it’s well‑deserved.  It’s three tough events.
I think it’s good.  All the best young Americans are going to play.  I think it’s definitely a good way to get a wild card like that.  Everyone will compete harder knowing they have that on the line.

Q.  I wonder if it makes things a little easier playing your first Grand Slam not at the US Open, somewhere outside the States.  The US Open brings a whole different set of pressures.  Tell me if you’re happy to get started on this journey somewhere else.
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, to me, I don’t think it would really make a difference being at the US Open or any other Grand Slam.
I think playing Grand Slam main draw for the first time is obviously going to be a new experience.  There are going to be new feelings and emotions that you haven’t experienced before.  It’s all very new and very exciting.
But, yeah, I’m very excited it will be at the French Open.  I do love the clay.  I’ve had some good success in the juniors there.  I’m really looking forward to playing there for the first time in the pros.

Q.  How about you, Frances?  Similar feelings?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  I mean, I would prefer it to be the Open.  I love the clay and everything, but being an American, playing at the Open, I had an unbelievable crowd in quallies on Court 17 last year.  I really like playing in front of the big crowds, people going crazy for you.  You play better, it’s more fun.  Hopefully I can play main draw there this year.
But it’s going to be great for me to go and play in the French Open main draw.  I’m very excited.  Could be a good one, you know what I mean?

Q.  Louisa, you’ve always said that clay has been your favorite surface.  Usually someone from New York who plays a lot indoors doesn’t have that same affection for clay.  Where did that come from and how does it suit your game?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Actually, I did grow up playing most of the summers on clay, which I know is rare, especially for someone from New York, because we play indoors most of the winter.
For the summertime I grew up on clay.  That’s maybe why I’m so comfortable on it.  It does suit my game.  I play a little bit heavier than some of the girls who play flat.  It suits my game.  I guess I’ve always just loved it.  I move pretty well on it, so yeah.

Q.  Do you notice a big difference between the Har‑Tru and the red clay?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  Yeah, I mean, they are different.  The red clay is a little bit softer.  The Har‑Tru, obviously it’s a little bit different.  The courts are not always the same.  It can vary based on clubs and different circumstances, where you’re playing.
But yeah, I mean, they are similar, too.  Movement‑wise.  They’re obviously much slower than hard court or grass.

Q.  A bit of a strange question.  Who would you most like to or least like to play in the first round at Roland Garros?
LOUISA CHIRICO:  That is tough.  This is maybe a weird answer, but I would actually like the opportunity to play Serena, just because you never know.  I think she’s obviously one of the best around right now.  It would be such a great opportunity to play her just to see what the level is like, how she competes and plays.  It would be such an honor to play against her.
I don’t really have an answer for a least favorite.  That’s pretty difficult to answer.  There’s no one that I would, you know, not want to play.

Q.  Frances?
FRANCES TIAFOE:  I mean, for me, everyone’s good.  For me, my most favorite would be to play Monfils.  That would be really fun.  He’ll get the crowd into it.  I’ll try to get the crowd into it.  You know what I mean?  I think it will be really fun.
My least favorite player, who wants to play Nadal at the French Open?  I mean, if I did play him, I obviously like him, but I think there’s better people to play than him in Paris.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone, for joining us.  I’d especially like to thank Frances and Louisa.  We wish them both good luck in the French.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Related Story:

Louisa Chirico Claims USTA French Open Wild Card

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Louisa Chirico Claims USTA French Open Wild Card

(May 10, 2015) Harrison, New York teen Louisa Chirico, gained a USTA wild card into the French Open.

Stewart won the title in Indian Harbour Beach today in three sets and also reached the final in both Dothan and at the $50,000 event in Charlottesville, Va. However, by rule of the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge, in the event of a tie, the player with the best WTA singles ranking in the published WTA rankings of Monday, May 11, 2015, will be awarded the wild card.  Since Chirico will have the better WTA singles ranking on Monday, she is awarded the wild card. As of Sunday, Chirico is ranked No. 120 in the world and Stewart is ranked No. 201. Chirico will be ranked higher than Stewart tomorrow.

The 18-year-old will join Frances Tiafoe, a 17-year-old from Maryland who is the men’s USTA wild card, at the French Open which begins May 24 in Paris.

Any American that did not receive direct entry into the 2015 French Open was eligible for the wild card, awarded to the man and woman who earn the most ATP/WTA ranking points at select USTA Pro Circuit clay court events. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2015 French and US Opens are exchanged. USTA Player Development awards the women’s wild card to the player who accumulates the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 clay-court events—the Hardee’s Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and the Revolution Technologies Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

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Teenager Frances Tiafoe Claims USTA French Open Wild Card

Francis Tiafoe photo by Cynthia Lum / USTA

Francis Tiafoe photo by Cynthia Lum / USTA

(May 2, 2015) Frances Tiafoe, 17, of College Park, Md., will make his Grand Slam main draw debut after earning a main draw wild card into the French Open by winning the 2015 Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. Tiafoe, who turned pro in early April and is currently ranked a career-high No. 381 in the world, clinched the wild card on Friday evening by winning his semifinal match at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla., against fellow American Tennys Sandgren. On Saturday, Tiafoe competed in his first career USTA Pro Circuit Challenger final in Tallahassee against Facundo Arguello, falling in three sets. Tiafoe finished the wild card challenge with 77 points, reaching the Tallahassee final and advancing to the semifinals of the $50,000 Challenger in Savannah, Ga., and the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Challenger in Sarasota, Fla. Tiafoe led the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge standings throughout the three weeks of the challenge.

 

“I am excited to play in my first career main draw Grand Slam,” says Tiafoe. “This is a big opportunity for me, as it’s a stepping stone for my career. I plan on competing as hard as I can to give myself the best chances to win.”

 

The USTA awards one men’s and women’s singles wild card into the French Open to an American, who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, based on results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2015 French and US Opens are exchanged. USTA Player Development awards the men’s wild card to the player who earns the greatest number of ATP ranking points at a series of USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—$100,000 Sarasota and two $50,000 events in Savannah and in Tallahassee.

 

The women’s Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge concludes next week with the $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. Louisa Chirico, Katerina Stewart, and Allie Kiick are frontrunners, as Chirico won the $50,000 event in Dothan, Ala., last Sunday and Stewart will be competing in her second consecutive USTA Pro Circuit final tomorrow in Charlottesville, Va., set to face Kiick.

 

Tiafoe won his first USTA Pro Circuit singles title earlier this year at the $15,000 Futures in Bakersfield, Calif. He also reached two additional USTA Pro Circuit singles finals earlier in the year and served as a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team against Great Britain in Scotland this March. Last year, Tiafoe competed in US Open qualifying, but has never competed at any other Grand Slam event.

 

As a junior, Tiafoe ascended to No. 2 in the ITF World Junior Rankings last year and reached the boys’ singles semifinals at the 2014 US Open. He won the prestigious Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in December 2013 in Plantation, Fla., becoming the youngest Boys’ 18s champion in the 67 years of the event. He also took the title at the 2014 Easter Bowl junior tournament and reached the final of the 2014 USTA International Spring Championships. In 2012, Tiafoe won two significant 14-and-under tournaments (Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, and Teen Tennis in Bolton, England) and helped lead the United States to a gold medal in World Junior Tennis—the premier 14-and-under team competition. He is a product of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a USTA Certified Regional Training Center, where he is coached by Misha Kouznetsov and Frank Salazar. Tiafoe’s upbringing has been the subject of national attention, as he and his brother, Franklin, practically grew up at the JTCC while their father, an immigrant from Sierra Leone, worked there as a maintenance man.

 

The USTA first used this wild-card challenge format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at that year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. In 2013, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards, with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open. Last year, young American Taylor Townsend and veteran Robby Ginepri earned the wild cards, with Townsend becoming a top storyline at Roland Garros by reaching the third round.

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USTA Announces 2015 Schedule for Har-Tru Wildcard Challenge for US Players to Earn a Wild Card into Roland Garros

USTA Shield Logo

From the USTA – WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 13, 2015 – The USTA today announced the tournaments for the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge, which utilizes the USTA Pro Circuit to award wild cards into the French Open. The three women’s events will be hosted in Dothan, Ala.; Charlottesville, Va.; and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., and the three men’s events will take place in Sarasota, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; and Tallahassee, Fla. The challenge kicks off today in Sarasota for the men’s events and Monday, April 20, in Dothan for the women’s events.
Har-Tru Sports, the leading provider of clay tennis courts, is in its third year as title sponsor of the challenge. This year, in conjunction with the wild card challenge, Har-Tru is launching a new campaign to recognize court maintenance professionals through the “Love Your Court, Love Your Game” campaign and contest with a cash prize. Har-Tru is also introducing “Court Care Professionals Day” on June 7.
In the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge, the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of the three selected USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events earn main draw wild cards into the French Open. Only Americans who did not otherwise earn direct entry into the French Open are eligible. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2015 French Open and 2015 US Open are exchanged.
All tournaments will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. Fans can also download the USTA Pro Circuit app by searching “procircuit” in the app store to follow the action on their cell phones.
The Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge consists of the following USTA Pro Circuit events:
USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Events
  • 2015 Sarasota Open, $100,000 Sarasota, Fla. (week of April 13)
  • St. Joseph’s/Candler Savannah Challenger, $50,000 Savannah, Ga. (week of April 20)
  • USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger, $50,000 Tallahassee, Fla. (week of April 27)
USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Events
  • Hardee’s Pro Classic, $50,000 Dothan, Ala. (week of April 20)
  • Boyd Tinsley Women’s Clay Court Classic, $50,000 Charlottesville, Va. (week of April 27)
  • Revolution Technologies Pro Tennis Classic, $50,000 Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (week of May 4)
Har-Tru’s “Love Your Court, Love Your Game,” campaign and contest empower tennis players, club staff and contractors to nominate their court-care professional(s) who go above and beyond to create great playing experiences for their members. The impetus of this campaign is to demonstrate appreciation for the people who create an optimal tennis environment that is key to players’ success. The campaign will kick off on Monday, April 13, and end on Sunday, May 10. The winner or winning team will be announced on Sunday, June 7, and receive a $5,000 cash prize. Fans of all ages can create a video, showcasing their appreciation for court-care professionals and the impact their work has had on their game. Submissions can be made by visiting www.loveyourcourt.com.
Sunday, June 7, will also mark “Court Care Professionals Day,” which will honor the contest winner and recognize and celebrate court-care professionals that maintain and preserve great clay-court tennis environments.
“We are so pleased that we have developed the ‘Love Your Court, Love Your Game’ campaign,” said Pat Hanssen, General Manager of Har-Tru Sports. “It’s so important to recognize the contributions of the behind-the-scenes champions for our sport and our industry. To my knowledge this is something that no other manufacturer has done and it’s something that is long overdue.”
The USTA first used this wild-card challenge format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at that year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. In 2013, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards, with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open. Last year, young American Taylor Townsend and veteran Robby Ginepri earned the wild card cards, with Townsend becoming a top storyline at Roland Garros by reaching the third round.
The 2015 French Open main draw will be held Sunday, May 24, to Sunday, June 7.
Information on the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge will be available at www.procircuit.usta.com, www.HarTru.com, and on Twitter through @USTAProCircuit and #HarTruWildcard.
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Rafael Nadal Wins Ninth French Open Title for 14th Major

 

 

(June 8, 2014) Rafael Nadal captured his ninth French Open title, his 14 major title by defeating No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 on Sunday in Paris in three hours and 31 minutes. For Nadal it’s a record breaking five straight French Open titles, a 66-1 record at Roland Garros and a 35 match winning streak in Paris.

In capturing his 14 major, the twenty-eighth-year-old Spaniard has won his 64th tournament title. He is tied with Pete Sampras for second on the all-time list of major tournament titles, three behind Roger Federer who has 17. Nadal has one at least one major for the ten straight years.

Nadal lifts his record against Djokovic to 23-19, a perfect 5-0 when playing him at Roland Garros. He is now 4-3 in major finals against the Serb. Djokovic won at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011 and at the 2012 Australian Open, while Nadal won at the 2010 US Open, 2012 Roland Garros, the 2013 US Open and Roland Garros.

“For me playing here in Roland Garros is just unforgettable, forever,” Nadal said.

Djokovic won the first set, after breaking Nadal in the eighth game and saving break points in the ninth for 6-3.

Nadal broke Djokovic in the 12th game to win the second set 7-5. In the third set, Nadal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third and broke serve again to take the set 6-2.

Djokovic had two chances to get the break back in the third set, in the fifth game and in the seventh, but Nadal held both times and then broke serve again in the final game for 6-2.

In the fourth set Nadal broke Djokovic in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, but the Serb broke back and held to even the set at 4-4. Nadal held for 5-4 and won the match when Djokovic double-faulted on match point.

“It was a great start; came back in the second,”Djokovic said in his post-match interview with media.  “Could have gone to the tiebreak and was quite even.  I lost that service game 6 5, and then the momentums went his side.

“I started, you know, playing quite bad, you know, and didn’t move as well.  Struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set.

“Then in the fourth started to feel a little bit better, but then just crucial points he played better.  I wasn’t playing at the level that I wanted, especially in the second part of the match.

“You know, that’s sport.  It’s how it is.  These kind of big matches obviously take the best out of players.  And of course it’s a huge challenge.  I tried to do my best.  My best wasn’t as the best against him in Rome a couple weeks ago.

“But, you know, it’s how it is.  Congratulations to him.  He was a better player in the crucial moments.  Of course it’s disappointing for me, but life goes on.  It’s not the first time or last time that I lost a match.”

“Without that second set, I don’t know if I have this trophy with me now,” Nadal said.

“He deserves to win this tournament,” Nadal said. “I am sure he will do it in the future.”

For his efforts, Nadal will receive €1,650,000 in prize money. He will remain No. 1 in the world.

At 45 clay court singles titles, Nadal is one title away from equaling the record of Guillermo Vilas at 46.

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Maria Sharapova Wins Second French Open Title

(June 7, 2014) Once describing her movement on clay courts as that of a “cow on ice,” Maria Sharapova has now captured the most important clay court title for a second time in three years by defeating No. 4 seed Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 for the French Open title on Saturday. The victory marks her fifth major tournament victory – 2012, 2014 French Opens, 2008 Australian Open, 2006 US. Open and 2004 Wimbledon.

The win is 27-year-old’s 32nd tournament win. She will move up to No. 5 in the world when the next rankings come out on Monday and Halep who made her first major final appearance will rise to No. 3.

Coming into last year’s French Open Halep was ranked No. 57 in the world.

Sharapova went down a break in the first set but rebounded to win it. In the second set Sharapova broke Halep twice as she was serving for the set, but lost the last four points of the tiebreak, after leading 5-3 to lose it and be extended to a third set. In the third set both women exchanged breaks early, but the Russian gained the ultimate break of serve in the ninth game of the set, which she backed up with an emphatic hold.

Sharapova had to rally from a set down in three straight matches on the way to the final, beating Sam Stosur, Garbine Murguruza and Eugenie Bouchard.

“This is the toughest Grand Slam final I’ve ever played,” Sharapova said on court after the match. “Really, this tournament means so much to me. It’s a tournament, when I was young and growing up, I wanted to win.

“To think that I’ve won it two times is, I don’t know. So emotional right now, I can’t even talk.”

“To be in your first Grand Slam final is an incredible achievement,” Sharapova said. “You’ve had an amazing two weeks, and this is just the first step. I think you’ll have an incredible career.”

“It’s my first Grand Slam speech, so emotionally it’s really difficult for me,” Halep said to the crowd during the trophy ceremony, after the match. “But I wish to have many more. But of course this one will be very special for me all my life.”

“I had two incredible weeks here. It was an amazing tournament for me,” Halep continued. “I played my best. And I’m really happy that you guys came every match to support me and today also you were amazing.”

Halep was trying to become the second Romanian player to win Roland Garros. The first, Viriginia Ruzici who won in 1978, is Halep’s manager.

Sharapova is now the first Russian player to win a major twice.

The match which lasted 3 hours and 2 minutes was the longest French Open women’s final since 1996 when Steffi Graf defeated Arantxa Sanchez 10-8 in the third set. It was also the first women’s final in Paris to go the full three sets since Jennifer Capriati beat Kim Clijsters 12-10 in the third in 2001.

“If somebody had told me that I’d win at some stage in my career that I’d have more Roland Garros titles than any other Grand Slam, I’d probably go get drunk” Sharapova said. Or tell them to get drunk, one or the other.

“Yeah, it’s really amazing.  I feel that I worked to get to this position.  There’s nothing else.  There is no substitute in these titles.  You can’t just go out there and just do it without putting in the effort, putting in the work.

“You’re not just born being a natural clay court player.  Okay, maybe if you’re Nadal.  But certainly not me.  I didn’t grow up on it; didn’t play on it.  I just took it upon myself to make myself better on it.

“There is no one else that was going to do that for me.  I had to do the work.”

“I think I had good tactics today,” Halep said in her post-match news conference.  “I opened the angles.  Also, I was hitting the ball strong.

“But, yeah, she did what she’s doing always, like to hit the balls very strong.  The serve was really, she had a good kick, and it was difficult for me to return.

“Yeah, she was moving really well.  I think it was a good, very good match today, a good final.  I didn’t expect three sets, three hours, but it happened, and I’m really happy that I could stay very long time on court.

“The atmosphere was incredible.  Of course, forever I will not forget this match.”

Sharapova’s win marks her 32nd career title. She now is second place on the all-time prize money list  surpassing Venus Williams. Serena Williams sits atop the all-time earnings list.

Sharapova now has 10 clay court titles, second among active players to Serena Williams with 11. Her record improves to 19-1 on clay this season and 54-4 since the start of 2012. She now has 20 straight wins in three-set matches on clay.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Routs Andy Murray to Reach Ninth Roland Garros Final

 

 

(June 6, 2014) Rafael Nadal will play in the French Open title for the ninth time after crushing Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 on Friday. The win extends his record streak to 34 straight wins at Roland Garros. He is now 65-1 in Paris.

The world No. 1 and eight-time champion moved out to a 3-0 lead to begin the match and never had to look back.

“It was a bad, bad day,” Murray said.

Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final. Djokovic beat Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The No. 1 ranking will be at stake in the final, with the winner claiming the top spot.

“It’s unbelievable to be in [a ninth] final,” Nadal said. “It’s very emotional for me. When I was a kid, to come here any day and play. Now, 10 years coming here. It’s something I’ll never forget in my life.”

It will be Nadal’s 20 Grand Slam final, second on the all-time list to Roger Federer’s 24.

More to follow…

 

Novak Djokovic Reaches Second French Open Final

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