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Open secrets, part I

Monday, May 19, 2008
By Guillaume Baraise

Tickets please!
As is traditionally the case, the last remaining tickets for the French Open went on sale on the Monday before the beginning of the tournament – 19 May – at 9 am at the ticket windows at the Porte des Mousquetaires (2, avenue Gordon-Bennett in the 16th arrondissement of Paris). You can also call +33 1 47 43 45 94 to buy tickets for Tuesday 27 May on Suzanne Lenglen court in the white category (€45) and N°1 Court in the green category (€28). Tickets can then be picked up at the Porte Suzanne Lenglen ticket window – remember to bring some form of photographic identification.

New coach for Gasquet
Having worked with Eric Deblicker since October 2004, Richard Gasquet is now being looked after by Guillaume Peyre, another coach from the private Team Lagardère organisation of which the French No.1 is a member. The current world No.9 has seen his form and confidence plummet since the start of the year and is hoping that the man who coached Cypriot star Marcos Baghdatis to the Australian Open final in 2006 will revive his flagging fortunes. Peyre also trains Gasquet's countryman Nicolas Mahut.

Big names in the qualifiers
The qualifying rounds for the French Open men's singles get under way on Tuesday. Among those players hoping to get through three rounds and make it into the main draw are some famous names including Chilean Nicolas Massu (Olympic champion at Athens in 2004), Spain's Fernando Vicente and Alberto Martin and Belgian Christophe Rochus. Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who reached the third round proper last year, is also in the running alongside some of tennis' most promising youngsters such as Russian Evgeny Korolev (20 years old), Argentinean Eduardo Schwank (22) who has just won three Challenger tournaments in a row and France's Josselin Ouanna (22).

Roddick and Golovin out, Coria in
Tatiana Golovin announced her withdrawal from the French Open a few days ago after undergoing an operation to remove a cyst from her abdomen. Andy Roddick meanwhile is the first big name to pull out of the men's singles with the American suffering from an injury to his right shoulder. His place in the main draw will be taken by comeback kid Guillermo Coria. The Argentinean was a beaten finalist here four years ago but has plummeted to No.733 in the world. Due to his 2004 French Open result however, he has a protected ranking of No.105.

Nadal completes clay sweep
Rafael Nadal has now bagged all there is to win on clay. On Sunday, the three-time Roland Garros winner overcame Roger Federer in the final of the ATP Masters Series in Hamburg (7-5 6-7 6-3), gaining revenge for the previous year's defeat. This was the one clay title missing from the Majorcan's trophy cabinet, with Gustavo Kuerten the only other player to have won the three Masters Series (Monte-Carlo, Rome and Hamburg) on the circuit's slowest surface as well as Roland Garros. For world No.1 Federer, this was the eighth time in nine tries that he had lost to Rafa on clay. Will history repeat itself at Roland Garros? We will find out in less than three weeks…

Things looking up for Mauresmo
At the recent Fed Cup world group play-offs in Tokyo, Amélie Mauresmo went down with a dose of flu, and the former world No.1 was coughing so much that she injured her ribs, causing her to take a break from tennis and pull out of the Tier I tournament in Rome last week as well as this week's Strasbourg event. The two-time Grand Slam winner, who has slumped to No.24 in the world, is now feeling much better however, and has already been spotted in the Roland Garros stadium, putting the final touches to her preparation for this year's French Open in which she will definitely be participating.

Henin tributes
The tributes have been flooding in ever since Justine Henin shocked the world of tennis by announcing her retirement at the tender age of 25. "The best player of her generation," is how former champion Billie Jean King described her. "She was a great champion and a real fighter," said Venus Williams, while her sister Serena was still coming to terms with the news. "What can I say about a player like her? I haven't got time to do her justice. She certainly gave me a lot of trouble as a player…" Men's No.1 Roger Federer, meanwhile, had this to say: "She was a special player who could win on any surface, and this was all the more impressive since she wasn't very tall, meaning that the bigger players had an advantage over her."

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