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Friday 30 May: Tale of the day

Friday, May 30, 2008
By Drew Lilley

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10.11 pm: Right, that’s me. Thanks for all your posts, your friend requests and above all for reading. “See” you – should that be e-see you?, tomorrow. Always a pleasure, never a chore…

9.54 pm: What a day. And what a day in store tomorrow – here’s the schedule.

9.50 pm: Venus waves and leaves. Both sisters gone in the same day. Whoda thunk?

9.47 pm: Another weak second serve, Flavia lobs it back, Venus should bury it but leaves it open and little Penn slides it down the line. Match point. Long rally, Pennetta pushes her back, back, back and wins! Flavia is through, Venus is out! Flavia is aaaaall smiles!

9.46 pm: 40-30. Oracene’s head is bowed. Will both daughter’s go out today? Deuce…

9.44 pm: Venus shanks one weeeell wide. The end is nigh… 0-15…

9.42 pm: Venus is fighting but Flavia is simply a little bit better than her at the moment. 5-3, Venus to serve to keep the Williamses in the tournament.

9.38 pm: More questions being asked of the ump, this time about the light. The crowd want to stay on, the supervisor is waiting in the wings… The light meter is checked and the ump says “reprise”, “restart” – ie let’s keep going girls. Applause from the hardy souls who remain.

9.35 pm: Ad Pennetta, Venus longs a forehand, asks the question but the ump comes down and raises the finger. 4-2 to the little Penn.

9.33 pm: Still playing on Chatrier, Venus on deuce on the Penn serve…

9.32 pm: 4-2 Jankovic and they’re off…Play suspended.

9.29 pm: Domi C is trotting around, looks fine.

9.25 pm: Domi C receiving treatment on her left foot. Official injury time-out. Gael La Monf Monfils is back, on his mobile though which is poor show…Big bandage around the middle of her foot, being stuck on with what looks like masking tape.

9.21 pm: Apparently (so studies show) you need three break points to be able to break, on average. JJ just carved out three but the far from Bulki Cibulkova saved them all. Well done that Slovak. Venus holds but Flavia only needs four more games to win.

9.15 pm: It’s a baseline battle between JJ and DC and no mistake. 2-2 in the second. Ditto on Chatrier and Venus keeps making mistakes. 1-0 Pennetta and the Italian is about to serve. Serena at least mixed the good with the less good, Venus just seems disinterested. And of course as soon as I type that, she sends a booming service return down and finishes with a smash. No Serene fist-pumping though. Quiet. Focused? No, more resigned, especially as Pennetta goes 30 then 40-15 up with a great drop. Venus swats away the ball she has just netted like a fly that’s bothering her…

9.09 pm: Forgot to say, JJ’s arm is strapped up after she strained it the other day. And Pennetta takes the first set after a titanic struggle. 12 winners, 10 unforced errors. While Venus has 10 winners and 12 unforced errors. Such a slight difference, and yet…

9.06 pm: The Pen is indeed mightier. Backhand down the wing and Flavia will serve for the set after the changeover. Hello to my new facebook friends by the way.

9.03 pm: Venus is having none of it and breaks back. And then proceeds to almost give it right back! She and little pen play some half-court tennis which little Pen wins to give her two break points, one of which Venus saves on the serve and then Pen sticks a backhand wide…In rallies of 3 shots or fewer, Venus wins. When it goes four or more, the Pen is mightier.

8.58 pm: 18 winners, 17 unforced-ers from JJ. She’s going for her shots. 15-30 on the little pen serve and Venus changes racquets. Gameswomanship? Peut-etre…

8.56 pm: JJ’s serve kicks in and she takes the first set 7-5. Dommy C gave a great account of herself in the first set. Gael Monfils is off, he’s seen enough. Signs autographs on the way though – good on him. Flavia little pen is serving for the set now – imagine both sisters going out on the same day, after people were looking forward to an all-Williams final.

8.53 pm: People below wondering why Rafa had to play three days in a row. A combo of rain and the fact that the bottom half of the draw has to play before the top half – that’s just the way it is. Rafa’s going to get more rest next week so there you go. JJ serving for the set, Venus serving to save the set.

8.51 pm: JJ steps up a gear and breaks to 15. Pennetta does likewise.

8.46 pm: Venus and Flavia is back to 3-3 while JJ – DC is going to dozens more deuces and… JJ saves set-points and holds.

8.40 pm: Cibulkova holds. That game lasted 10 minutes. Check the timecodes if you don’t believe me.

8.37 pm: Pennetta breaks back, Venus says “I’m having none of that” and breaks back up. And they’re STILL on deuce on No1 court.

8.32 pm: Great point. JJ smashes three times, Domi gets them all back and then comes to the net but loooongs a forehand. Shame, after all that effort. Break point JJ, second serve and… no, she hits one out. This game is officially deucetastic.

8.31 pm: Venus breaks Flavia’s nervous service. Gael Monfils is on Court no1, checking out the talent. 4-4 there, an incredible rally comes to an end when JJ gets a lucky net cord. Deuce on the Dommy C serve.

8.29 pm: Flavia little feather Pennetta is 21-9 on the year having won in Vina del Mar and Acapulco on clay, beating Zakopalova and Alizeeeee respectively. She won the junior doubles here in 1999 with compatriot Roberta Vinci, who with a name like that was bound to win…

8.26 pm: Venus is already 15-40 down. She saves the first with a deep passing shot then stops on the second to point out that Flavia had looonged one. The ump confirms and it’s deuce. In the other match, JJ has hit 10 winners to DC’s four but DC leads… Consistency is a virtue and never more so than on clay. Aha, Venus holds to win the opening game.

8.25 pm: Dommy C holds and we’re into a better rhythm here. Dominika’s coming to the net and playing some deep shots. We should be in for a good little battle now.

8.22 pm: JJ holds too. I’ve just been on Dominika’s facebook page and she doesn’t have a status at the moment. I invited her to join the “Drew Lilley’s Roland Garros Blog” group but she’s not accepted yet (feel free to find it and join). She accepted me as a friend though which I thought was quite sweet. Dmitry Tursunov hasn’t updated his status either…

8.16 pm: Little Dommy C holds! 3-2 Cibulkova and a hold is as good as a break in this particular match.

8.15 pm: Out come Venus and Flavia Pennetta, Venus looking absolutely thrilled to be coming out at 8.15 pm. Pursed lips and a crinkled nose – like my Mum when people call me Drew (“his given name's AN-drew”). They’ll be here tomorrow and Sunday, Mum and Dad, so be sure to write in and say hello to them. My wife was chuffed yesterday with all the well wishes.

8.10 pm: Hmm… not a great advertisement for women’s tennis. 2-2, four breaks.

8.09 pm: Three breaks for the ladies, so JJ is serving at 2-1 against Dommy C.

8.08 pm: Schwank leaves head down, almost in tears. What a performance from the youngster who will be back here next year stronger and more confident. He’s had a great 10 days, qualifying and then eliminating Moya and taking PHM to the limit. Djoker is the next up for the French No18 seed.

8.07 pm: PHM WINS!

8.06 pm: PHM mini-breaks. Match-point No5 on his serve…

8.05 pm: 9-9 and let’s have another change-over after Schwank pulls out a cross-courter from the annals. Wilander, PHM’s coach, sighs resignedly…

8.03 pm: 8-8. And Little she-onion (what Cibulkova means in Slovakian apparently) has broken back. 9-8 PHM on the Schwank serve now… The crowd are on their feet, so are the French journalists upstairs here…

8.02 pm: Great serve, Hilary Schwank saves. He’s the only Argentine left here and he doesn’t want to go just yet… And he passes PHM with a beaut. 7-8 on the PHM serve. Third set point…

8pm: 6-6, changeover. Meanwhile Jellybean Jankovic has broken Dominika Perabo Cibulkova to open. Ooh, match point PHM but on the Schwank serve…

7.59 pm: PHM again finds the line with Schwank serving for the set. 5-6 PHM to serve.

7.58 pm: PHM dominates then loongs a smash to give Schwank the chance. 5-4, two services for the Argentine qualifier…

7.57 pm: More mini-breaks and we’re still with serve. PHM finds the line – 4-4.

7.54 pm: The glamour match-up is ready to start on No1 while Hilary Schwank is a mini-break up on Chatrier. PHM then mini-breaks back.

7.51 pm: Tie-break on Chatrier.

7.48 pm: As he did against Hernandez, PHM has had a bit of a wobble but then come good at the right moment. Or has he? Two match points on the Schwanky serve and the Argentinean has saved both. Watch this space…

7.42 pm: It’s all happening, or rather finishing, here. Nole cruises through in straight sets to meet Schwank or PHM in the next round – the former is serving to save the match at 1-2, 5-6.

7.40 pm: The office is rocking here as Chardy beats Beardy Russki Tursunov in straight sets. Murray-masher Almagro lies in wait for the French wild-card (so you see they do give wild-cards to decent players and not just any old Frenchie).

7.38 pm: “Jeremy” clap clap clap! “Jeremy” clap clap clap! The No1 court crowd is over the moon as wildcard Chardy is about to serve for the match and eliminate the No30 seed. PHM meanwhile has broken back against Schwank so we may yet get Venus – Flavia and Dominika – Jelena. The weather’s a bit cooler but we’ve got time and light on our side.

7.27 pm: Djoker breaks in the final (sorry third) set. Simple as. Casey and Carla are 2-3 with serve and Schwank is a break up in the fourth (!) which is keeping Venus and Flavia Pennetta off court. They may come on to Lenglen once Djoker polishes off Odesnik’s world Odesnik’s world party time excellent. Chardy is a break up on Tursunov in the third (and probably final) meaning that we may yet get to see the match-up that lots of people have been waiting for between two great players who are incidentally very attractive – Jelena Jankovic and Dominika Cibulkova. That’ll be on No1 court.

7.22 pm: Alicia Molik and Mara Santangelo won the women’s doubles here last year but they are a set and 3-0 down to Bethanie Mattek (out on court again after pushing Maria Sharapova this morning) and Italy’s Sara Errani.

7.16 pm: After qualifying for the last 16 of the singles, Agnieska Radwanska is now playing doubles with her sister Ursula against two double-barreled Hispanophones whose names are too long to type out (ok, Medina Garrigues and Ruana Pascual, Annabel and Virginia of that ilk). The Hithpanix are No10 seeds.

7.05 pm: Djoker takes the second, 6-4. Minimum of effort, maximum result. Chardy has done likewise – Tursunov’s Robin Williams beard and Gustavo Kuerten shirt are to no avail at the moment. Carla Suarehhh Nabarrrro took the first set off Case-oh from Perth, but the latter has broken to open the second set.

6.52 pm: It’s up and down on Court No2. The Canarian has broken the Perthite but the latter is now trying to pay the former back. Deuced up. Go Case-o. And by George, by jingo by crikey, Schwank has taken the third set. That match ain’t over yet. The winner will face the Djoker (or Wayne Odesnik) next up. Schwank is all smiles out there, thinking “I’m on Chatrier – Centre Court for heaven’s sake – I’ve qualified, I’ve beaten Moya, I’ve just taken a set off PHM. Is the alarm about to go off? Is my Mum about to say ‘Get up Eduardo, time for school’?”

6.45 pm: Casey breaks back, Chardy breaks up to lead the second. PHM meanwhile is 5-2 down in the third! This fellah “Hilary” Schwank is a battler and no mistake!

6.37 pm: Suarez does another bottle of water, shake of the hair job. Great fun to watch. She leads 3-2 with serve as well so it may be a superstition… It’s hot and sticky out there though so I can’t blame her.

6.36 pm: Djoker breaks again. Simple as.

6.32 pm: Djoker breaks. Simple as.

6.29 pm: Blimey, I know the Canary isles are named after the Latin word for dog, but that was very canine at the changeover from Carla Suarehhh Nabarro. Bottle of water over her head and then she shook her curly hair like a pooch coming out of the river, sending spray everywhere. Maybe Tursunov should do the same with his beard. He looks like Robin Williams…

6.27 pm: Chardy looks to bagel the tie-break but beardy Tursunov passes him to spare himself the ignominy. The Frenchy then returns and volleys and takes the TB 7-1. Incroyable. Would you croy it? I wouldn’t…

6.25 pm: Chardy – Tursunov is into a tie-break. Meanwhile the battle of the French-killers is on Court No2. Carla Suarehhh Nabarro – the Amelie conqueror from the Canary Isles – has broken to lead 2-1 over the Bartoli basher from Perth Casey Dellacqua (Kazay Della Ka, as zey pronounce it ‘ere).

6.15 pm: Bish bosh. Novak takes the first with an ace – his sixth of the set. That’s the way to show ‘em.

6.10 pm: Normal service resumed. Djoker breaker. He’ll serve at 6-5 for the opener. PHM leads 2-0. The French (fit) No1 is cruising into a second week.

6.07 pm: That massoosse did his job! Odesnik breaks right back, much to the Djoker’s chagrin. On a break point in the next game, Odesnik drops a droptastic drop and Nole slips and scrapes his knee. Things not going to plan for the No3 seed.

5.58 pm: On Lenglen, Odesnik seems to have a problem in the right thigh. The masseur, who has had more TV exposure these last few days than any player, is prodding, rubbing and jiggling.

5.54 pm: Youzhny has broken back in a real war of attrition. Chardy – Tursunov meanwhile is 2-2 in the first set while that man the Djoker, Rafa’s big rival in the bottom half of the draw, is a break up at 5-3 against Wayne Odesnik, the surprise package from the US.

5.40 pm: Youzhny – Verdasco is in a fourth set by the way. 2-1 to the Spanish No22 seed.

5.38 pm: Almagro serves out and wins. Murray only has himself to blame. The Spanish clay-court specialist will face the winner of Tursunov and Chardy, which started a few minutes ago.

5.35 pm: Murray nets, is broken and throws his thistle cap on the floor in disgust. Almagro will serve for the match again after the change-over. And PHM has taken the first set.

5.32 pm: Paul-Henri Mathieu (hereafter PHM) – all-round nice-guy and top-ranked Frenchie in the absence of Tsonga – is a break up on Argentine qualifier Eduardo Schwank. Murray meanwhile is 15-40 down. He saves one and then hoo cha cha, second serves and volleys! That was gutsy. And clever. Deuce.

5.30 pm: Murray breaks back with a forehand riiiight on the line. 5-5, game on! The crowd is roight behind him, including a fellow in the front row wearing a tartan bonnet and fake (I hope) ginger wig.

5.24 pm: Murray battles and takes it to deuce at least… Ah, Almagro’s complaining about something. He’s lost his cool and it’s 5-4. He’ll still be able to serve for the match however.

5.22 pm: Murray is two points away from going out…

5.17 pm: Patty wins! No opportunity for Emilie to throw her racquet into the crowd this time. She’ll face Slovene Serena-squasher Katy Srebotnik in the next round. And after that (I know, getting ahead of myself), it could be an all-Basle match-up with Ana Ivanovic.

5.14 pm: Peppermint Lefty leads 5-2 and will soon serve for the match. Hopp Patty. Strange isn’t it? Swissies say “Hopp” to encourage their own, Dutchies say “Hup”. I suppose in English back in the day we said “Play up, Miss Barker” (Sue of that ilk, French Open winner in 1976).

5.05 pm: Snif sniff, as the Frenchies say (they’re an “f” short). Alize Cornet’s Roland Garros comes to an end. Agnieska Radwanska was just too solid for the waif-like girl from Nice. The Pole will face the winner of the all-seed match-up between Dominika Cibulkova (aka B-list actress Piper Perabo) and Jelena Jankovic.

5 pm: At least Peppermint Patty is leading 2-0 in the decider. When she lost the second set she must’ve been crabby patty (Spongebob reference there…)

4.57 pm: Almagro breaks. Sigh. Is it all over? And ooh, Aggie Rad is returning for the match, if you see what I mean.

4.54 pm: Yeesh, that really will teach me. My adopted compatriot Patty Schnyder lost three games in a row and it’s 1-1 in sets between her and Emilie jolie Loit. Llodra the Paris-St Germain football fan will face Ernests Gulbis in the Round of 16.

4.53 pm: Drew back and it’s all my fault. Almagro breaks, holds, breaks and holds and Murray is 2-1 down.

4.50 pm: Apparently his friend, the France and PSG midfielder Jerome Rothen is in the crowd watching so it's actually dedicated to him...nice touch!

4.46 pm: Llodra's half-naked, currently throwing everything he can find in his bag at the crowd...that is to celebrate his victory against the beautiful Bolelli (its Elaine back again obviously,no need for Drew's wife to fret!) Llodra's now put on a PSG jersey to please the crowd!

4.43 pm: Loit saves a match point with a drop and then another. Deuce. And then she breaks back! 5-5! Alizeeee has also broken back and so has Almagro, after Murray fluffed a drop to give him another break point.

4.42 pm: Murray wards off a break point with… a beaut of a drop. He’s 3-2 up with serve.

4.41 pm: Aggie Rad is going to beat Alizeeeee at this rate. 4-2 up. She got to the Aus quarters this year so she’s no mug. Schnyder breaks back and is serving for the match...

4.35 pm: Loit wrongfoots Peppermint Patty and it’s breakback mountain, 4-4. Patty’s tatt is on her right shoulder, not the left, for any body art fans out there…

4.33 pm: Pleasant Pole Aggie Radwanska breaks back. She lives in Miami, dontcha know…

4.31 pm: Murray has a break point and… lobs Almagro. The Spaniard leaps to retrieve it but his desperate volley drifts out – Murray breaks! Great tennis form Murray because the Almagro serve was a boomer.

4.28 pm: Youzhny – Berdathco is 5-5 in the second (the Thpaniard took the first) while Llodra – Bellissimo Bolelli is 4-5, but the Frenchie is two sets to the good.

4.26 pm: Peppermint Lefty is a break up in the second and Alize is now back on form (perhaps they tippexed the banner) and is 2-1 and a break up.

4.16 pm: Muzzer wrong-foots Almagro with a cross-courter and it’s one set all. Game on!

4.16 pm: Neecolath loongs a slice, Andy booms a serve. 5-3. Booms an ace, 6-3.

4.15 pm: Aggie Rad makes it a Michelle (Pfeiffer – fiver… ) to come back from 1-4 to win the first set 6-4. For pity’s sake, correct the mistake on that banner otherwise wee Alizeee will lose. Changeover in the TB, Murray and Almagrothth locked at three each a-piece.

4.12 pm: Muzzer has a mini-break, doo dah, doo dah.

4.11 pm: Emilie jolie must be ruing those five set points. Peppermint Patty Swissie Leftie wins the tie-break 7-4. Hopp Suisse, Schwiiz and Svizzera, to use three of my adopted homeland’s four official languages (the fourth, Rumatsch, is far too weird for me to use. It’s like mispronounced Latin). Almagrothth serves out and we’re going into a TB on 7.

4.07 pm: Aggie Rad leads 5-4 after winning her fourth game into a row while surprise surprise, Patty and Emilie are exchanging mini-breaks in the TB. Speaking of TBs, one of those beckons between Murray and Almagro, to whose name I cannot add a “th” no matter how hard I try. Ah hang on, Neecolath Almagro – there you go!

4.05 pm: Patty and Emilie are still going at it hammer and tongs and aha, the Swissie breaks back and forces a TB (after the girl from Cherbourg had five set points).

4 pm: Murray’s serving fine but can’t break Almagro – clay-court bandeet, don’t forget. Battling Patty is at her Ad on the Loit serve looking to force a tie-break. And yup, that banner (saying “Alize, gives us something to dream about” instead of “give us something…”) has well and truly put Miss Cornet off – Aggie Rad breaks back again, it’s 4-4.

3.52 pm: Frenchtastic at the moment. Alize leads, Emilie is 5-5 30-30 against the world No10 and Mickael Llllllllodra leads 2-0 over bellissimo Bolelli. The Frenchies in the office are going crazy, breaking out the Burgundy and the paté, particularly as Loit has broken and is about to serve for the set. The girls aren’t too chuffed though as they like an eyeful of Bolelli.

3.50 pm: I tell a lie, the grammatical error has put her off as Alize has let the 19-year-old world No16 break back. The nice Nice girl is still a break up, mind.

3.43 pm: Patty breaks back. She has a Japanese tattoo on her left shoulder which is obviously helping her play. Must be a fad, maybe a Swiss one, as Stan the man Wawrinka has one on his stomach. Not as impressive as the Katy Bondarenko one though. Alize is now 4-1 up and serving – she’s on fire, the wee lassie is. A grammatically incorrect banner encouraging her floats high in the stands but the error has yet to put her off her stride.

3.40 pm: First set to Berdathco. Alize breaks and Murray squanders two break points.

3.38 pm: Youzhny mini-breaks back but needs to hold serve here – still a set point. Murray lays down a droptastic drop to lead 15-30 on the Almagro serve – the press were on his back after his 5-setter in the first round against Eysseric when he fell in love with the drop shot and relied too heavily on it. Since then, he is often heard to say “Nah, drop shots never work, do they?” in ironic fashion whenever he lays a good one down.

3.36 pm: Alize is out on Lenglen facing Polish No14 seed Agnes Radwanska and it’s 1-1 after 5 minutes. Loit is playing like a woman possessed and is at deuce on the Peppermint Patty service and 4-2 up. Youzhny battles back to 4-4 in the TB then nets a forehand to give Berdathco the mini-break back. Murray meanwhile is in his stride, leading 2-1 with service in the second but obviously he is a break down so needs to raise his game.

3.30 pm: Hopp France! Emilie jolie breaks Peppermint Lefty Patty Schnyder. Youzhny meanwhile gets the ump out of his chair to overrule a call, but when the point is replayed, Berrrrdathco mini-breaks.

3.24 pm: Murray got off to a slow start but he’s fighting here. Almgaro is serving at 5-3 but it’s deuce. Youzhny meanwhile broke back against Berrrdathco and was trotting around the court like a particularly bouncy mountain goat. Ooh, Murray’s complaining to the ref about a ball that was called in. Tough luck, it was out. And with his concentration shot, he plays a table-tennis serve that bounces before it hits the net and Almagro has taken the opener.

3.19 pm: Women’s No10 seed Patty Schnyder is on No1 court playing Emilie Loit. Loit had lost every match so far this season before coming into this tournament and she said that she would have retired had she lost in the first round here. She won 8-6 in the final set and was so delighted that she tossed her racquet into the crowd. Same again when she won her second round match but I reckon today will be a bridge too far for her – Peppermint Patty on clay is a tough proposition.

3.12 pm: Whoosh, Nadal wins 1, 3 and 1 against Nieminen. Incredibly strong. Federer looked good yesterday despite the first set but Rafa is on a higher plane on clay. Incredible. He’ll face Youzhny (seed No15) or Verdasco (seed no22) in the next round, with the Russian currently a break down and serving to save the set. Stay calm Mikhail – don’t go smashing the racquet against your head like you did a couple of months ago… Ah he does stay calm and hold, but the Spaniard is about to serve for the set.

3.05 pm: Scotland the brave, Flower of Scotland etc, Murray finally holds a game against clay-court bandeet Almagro. Read the match preview here.

3.02 pm: Benneteau has pulled it off, winning the last set 6-0 as the French continue to fight on...

2.58 pm: Almagro already leading by 3 games to nada against Britain’s only hope Murray…Murray currently serving in the fourth game…

2.49 pm: Murray and Almagro have just started on court 7, the 19th seed Spaniard is hoping to cause an upset against the Scotsman who has improved since his first round performance...

2.38 pm: Well while we’re waiting for the iodine to dry in, Falla has finally taken the 4th set off Benneteau after a tie-break and bello Bolelli is as at advantage, hoping to hold serve…Rafa’s back in action, fingers crossed the blisters stay away…

2.34 pm: Nadal is getting attention to his foot…that’s an impressive tan-line I can tell you!

2.30 pm: Nadal has squeezed another break in there and he’s inexorably grinding his way to yet another victory.

2.18 pm: Zvonareva wins, and will face Oh Canada’s Alex Wozniak next up. And probably elegant Elena after that in what would be a tasty little match-up between two different styles.

2.13 pm: Lots of doubles action at the moment, including Gael Monfils who surely should be conserving his energy! No11 seeds Vera Zvonareva (yet another Russian prodigy) is a set up on local lassie Stephanie Cohen-Aloro. This is as high as Vera has been ranked since 2004 and she is having a cracking season, 32 wins for 8 losses before she came here (that’s a lot of tennis and included a month off after she lost in the opening round at the Aus). She lost to Maria in the Dohar final, to Ana in the quarters at Indian Wells, to Jelena in the semis at Miami, to Serena in the Charleston final and then won Prague. So there! And she’s now 5-4 up.

2.07 pm: Gulbis in on fine form here. Two sets and 2-0 up in the third. Serving well, returning well, picking his moments and attacking where and when necessary. Lapentti seems to have lost it – netting an easy forehand and that’s 3-0 to Ernests the Latvian swan (apparently Gulbis means swan) with two breaks.

1.54 pm: Gulbis-watch, as requested by someday posting down below. The Latvian prodigy has taken the first two sets from the Ecuadorian journeyman Nicolas Lapentti. You can read more about both players here (Gulbis) and here (Lapentti).

1.52 pm: 10 winners and only four unforced errors and Rafa has won the first set 6-1 with two breaks.

1.48 pm: Maria, in her navy blue not black dress apparently (looks black to me but then most guys are slightly colour-blind apparently), has broken Mattek to win 6-2 3-6 6-2. Her final point was a beaut – a backhand winner right down the line. The No1 seed will now face Karin Knapp in the third round. And she’d better shape up (to sing a line from Grease the musical) as she’s been far from convincing thus far.

1.43 pm: Nieminen has a break point but Rafa weeeeeears him down again. He’s a grinder on this surface, like the 80s snooker player Cliff Thorburn.

1.38 pm: While I was shaking hands with Vince Spadea (American gladiator I ain’t afraid of ya – as his rap record went) who is about to go on Wadio Wolland Gawwos with those two kerrazy kooks Eli and Araz, Bethanie Mattek broke back only to allow Maria to break again. Maria has undoubtedly been the player of the year so far, since the end of last year in fact once she got fit again, but she’s been all at sea here this week. She leads 4-2 but I’m not convinced. Rafa meanwhile has worn down Nieminen and leads 3-1.

1.30 pm: Maria is coming to the net and trying to dominate but she doesn’t want to smash – maybe a legacy of her shoulder problems. Meanwhile on Lenglen this is indeed going to be a long one. Neither of these two is going to budge an inch and Nieminen is going to push Rafa all the way.

1.25 pm: Rafa watch. Nieminen saves a break point but Rafa’s already in his stride – you won’t catch him cold coming out of the locker rooms. Nieminen eventually holds with a two-handed backhand down the line (he like Rafa is a lefty by the way) but he’s no doubt in for a looong day (or a short one if Rafa makes light work of him).

1.22 pm: Ah, that’s more like it. Maria obviously read my comments! Breaks to love and she has just laid down the sweetest drop shot which died mere inches over and past the net.

1.19 pm: Maria struggles but holds the opener in the deciding set. Who’s looked good so far among the women’s favourites? Er… Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina… and that’s about it. Jelena’s looked OK too, but the others either haven’t convinced me or all already out!

1.17 pm: Another shocker! Nadal loses the opening point! On his own service! Just a point though…

1.15 pm: Bennett’s a break and 0-30 up on the Falla serve at 3-0 in the third. Blimey!

1.11 pm: There’s a fair bit of wind out there but Mattek’s not put off her stride. She’s throwing her whole body into forehands and there we go, one set all!

1.08 pm: Mattek, in what is actually a pink Spiderman-style dress, nets a backhand on break point. Maria’s looking a bit “cow on ice” (her words) out there at the moment. Here comes another break point, set up by a double fault, and Maria sends an easy forehand wide! Mattek to serve, 5-3 up. What is this – shock day?!

1.06 pm: The most charismatic man on the circuit, I am asked by a poster down below. Hmm… Roger’s always polite and smiling but never creates waves, which is something that Novak seems to like doing. Andy Roddick (get well soon) is usually good for a one-liner. Most charismatic? Difficult to say. Marat’s too broody (but that’s his charm, isn’t it?)

1.03 pm: Mattek holds. Pinkie’s not going down without a fight.

1.02 pm: Out comes Rafa, all greened up. Falla meanwhile has the trainer attending to him at the change-over…

12.59 pm: Action and matches a-go-go so keep your eye on the slamtracker (see link above) as well as this. Maria and Bethanie are looking at finishing off and Maria has already held her serve. 3-3, after Sharapova won the first set. And she’s already got Kader the ump out of his chair to have a look at a ball-print. Bethanie’s in a different dress today – all pink – while Maria’s in the same black as yesterday (though no doubt a different version).

12.54 pm: Falla – Bennet is into a tie-break. 6-6 in games and points. Mini-break Bennet which gives him a set point, on No1 court with the crowd behind him. Good service, rally starts, Bennett comes in, then goes back which seems to throw Falla and Bennett levels the match at one set all.

12.51 pm: Nadal will be next up against Nieminen on Lenglen. A lot of you complaining that Rafa has three games in a row but he’ll be happy to play now – players always say they’d rather play than train (which is why a lot of them enter the doubles as well). He’ll have an extra day’s rest later in the tournament which Roger for example won’t have so it’s swings and roundabouts.

12.44 pm: Serena tries to paint the line but misses by a thou. Match point, and it’s out! Serena is out, Katarina Srebotnik is through.

12.43 pm: Cetkovska wins and Serena saves two match points. Deuce. Two unforced errors from Katy.

12.42 pm: Ma Williams is in the crowd and looking pensive. As well she might. It’s 40-15, two match points…

12.40 pm: The conclusion of Sharapova – Mattek is up next on Lenglen.

12.38 pm: This time she’s allowed a fist-pump – Ana that is, as she smashes a lob that wasn’t quite high enough to take the match 6-4 6-1. She’ll face the winner of Cetkovska (probably) and Benesova (unlikely). Ooh, Srebotnik breaks and will serve for the match in two minutes.

12.36 pm: Serena is fist-pumping on ever point she wins which as pointed out down below in the forum is getting rather tiresome. Ana’s doing a bit of it as well. Magnanimity, my dears. It’s what winning’s all about.

12.34 pm: Serena smashes into the net. She’s dominating but hasn’t yet broken and it’s 4-4 in the second set. Katy’s all smiles – after all, she’s only 8 points away from a fourth-round tie with Loit or Schnyder.

12.33 pm: Serena starts coming to the net to try to win points, which she does but then she lets Katy off the hook with a drop shot that finds the tramlines on break point. Ana meanwhile is having a quick racquet change. She loses the first point with it but sticks with it nevertheless, giving it a second chance.

12.30 pm: Cetkovska breaks and could well be the first winner of the day at this rate.

12.28 pm: Serena serves at 183 km/h (that’s four feet seven inches in old money) to save a break point and then wins that crucial seventh game in the set with a whippy passing shot to beat Slovene (not Slovak, sorry) Katy at the net. Ana’s stepping up the pace now. Double break point, she takes the first and it’s double break. 4-1 with the darling of the crowds to serve after the change-over.

12.20 pm: Ah, jinx-tastic I am! Ana finally breaks to lead 2-1. Serena leads 3-2 with serve and its 2-2 in the Czech derby.

12.18 pm: Wozniacki has a heavily strapped right arm just below the elbow but it doesn’t seem to be hampering her too much (still the same game, still 1-1).

12.15 pm: If you don’t hear otherwise, then it’s all going with serve after 20 deuces per game between Ivanovic and Wozniacki. 1-1 40-40 at the moment. It’s with serve in the other two ladies’ games while Bennet is now 4-2 up on Falla in a match that has clay-court five-set marathon written all over it.

12.09 pm: Umbrellas out on Lenglen… to shade the players from the sun! Gorgeous day here! Ana and Caroline are doing what they do best – going all deucy lucy on us. Ana’s sitting back and letting Miss Wozniacki, who won’t even reach voting age until after Wimbledon, dominate her. Not a good sign for any Ana fans out there.

12.06 pm: Cetkovska trains over here in France, by the way (little snippet of the day for you there). Serena, serving at 1-1 in the second, nets an easy forehand and berates herself, as well she might. This could (should?) be her year, so if she goes out in the first week, she’ll be kicking herself. And with powerful legs like hers, that’ll leave some nasty bruises.

12 .02 pm: Another set point, and our LovelyAna only needs one. She pulls a decent service game out of the bag when she most needs it and leads one set to love. Iveta’s still battling out on court 2: 3-5, deuce against her countrywoman Petra Cetkovska. Ah, no she isn’t. Petra breaks again and takes the first set. All the sets falling at once. Except Benneteau – Falla, which fell a while ago when the Colombia took it 6-1. “Bennett” has broken in the second though.

12 pm: Another Katy set point and SHE TAKES IT! She again came to the net, bravely and in fact she keeps doing it and leaving herself open but Serena can’t quite find the pin-point passing shot and Katy is strong on the volley and that’s it. 12-12 in terms of winners and unforced errors for Serena, 9-9 for Katy, so she may be playing slightly better percentage tennis. Not a lot to chose between them but Katy took her chances.

11.57 am: Ha, check this one out! Katy serves, she thinks it’s long, Serena hits a winner down the line and the point stands. Katy challenged her own serve and wanted it to be out! Another set-point saved by Serena but then the Slovene carves out another one by battling on the volley at the net. She serves, and… it is long this time. Rally and Serena again saves and again fist pumps. Meanwhile Ana breaks to lead 5-4. If ever one of those two holds their serve, they’ll stroll it. That will be Ana’s problem in the second week – if she can’t serve strongly she’ll get gobbled up.

11.53 am: Hmm, maybe the eighth game is the crucial one, as Ana and Caroline have been playing it for 10 minutes. Benesova is fighting (2-5, deuce) and ooh, Kool Katy Srebotnik has a set point, carved out with a forehand that kisses the baseline. She leans in to serve, doesn’t like the bounce of the ball so changes it, second serve (ooh, the tension), and nets! Agh! Deuce. Long legs Iveta Benesova breaks back – 3-5 (so she’s still a break down). And Ana and Caroline are still playing, 4-3 Ana, and… no, Caroline breaks back! 4-4! Serena then does some line-kissing and gives it a big crouch down, left-fist pump after she saves another set point. Time to post this, you must all be waiting with bated breath…

11.45 am: Eek! Katy Srebotnik leads 5-3! Serena is serving to save the set! Ana and Caroline are in a deucalicious game (Ana seems sluggish this morning but Caroline is no mug – No30 seed). Meanwhile the tall and graceful Iveta Benesova is also serving to save the set, at 1-5 down so she’s in more of a pickle than Serena.

11.38 am: It’s 3-3 everywhere now so let’s see who wins the crucial seventh game (whoever wins the seventh game in a set goes on to win the set in 90% of cases). Ivanovic and Srebotnik break! They will each serve at 4-3 (and the points finished within two seconds of each other!) Wowzers! (Lovely Ana and equally lovely Caroline are each wearing the same white visor with pink logo. Awww, sweet). Falla – Benneteau meanwhile is 2-1 and still deucy Lucy. Clay court marathon alert…

11.35 am: Lots of Swiss posters today. Hoi and Hopp Schwiiz to you, and read Smash magazine if you get the time – my copy was kindly sent on to my hotel and arrived last night so I’ll be perusing that later. I read below that there is talk of Peppermint Patty having to pull out. One of my colleagues saw her this morning and she was trotting down the stairs like the finely honed athlete that she is so no worries on that count. Emilie Loit beware – Patty’s on form at the moment! Hopp Suisse!

11.30 am: Two-all-tastic. Sultry Serena and Cool Caroline give it some breakback mountain. Serena goes even further and leads 3-2 by holding her serve – and Caroline is obviously getting updates from Lenglen because she’s just done the same, holding (despite another double fault – these will come back to hurt her) to lead 3-2. On No2, Petra Cetkovska is 4-0 up in the Czech derby over dangerous floater Iveta Benesova, who had to come through the qualifiers but will be in the top 50 by next Monday, such has been her form over the last month.

11.25 am: D’oh, forgot to give you a weather report. Sunny, 22 degrees, slight chance of showers later but it’s as sunny as an Ana smile at the moment. 2-ups have become 2-1s in the women’s games, while Falla and Benneteau are giving it some deuces wild. Why do unfinished matches start later, you ask? They start second up as we don’t know how long they’ll last. At least this way those up second now vaguely what time they’ll start, rather than having to be ready to play at 11.15 if for example Maria wins four games in a row to finish her match versus Bethanie Mattek. This way those second up know that they have at least 45 minutes (and that would only be if Ana or Serena double bageled their opponents (that’s two set wins to love, looks like a bagel you see – 0) – or of course if their opponents double-bageled Serena or Ana). (Too many brackets there. Hyphen-ventilating on Tuesday, bracketitis today).

11.20 am: More two-up than an Aussie pub on ANZAC day. Ana (over Caroline), Katy S (over Serena) and Falla (over Benneteau).

11.18 am: We’re under way elsewhere and ooh, Grand Slam champ and former RG winner (in fact the only RG winner left in the draw after the retirements of Justine Henin and Anastasia Myskina) in trouble alert: Katy Srebotnik breaks to open against Serena! Ana’s 2-up by the way.

11.11 am: Wozniacki serves, double faults quite weakly to give Ana her first break point but the dashing Dane gets her act together and saves. Ana carves out another and away we go, she’s a break to the good almost before anyone else has started playing.

11.05 am: Play going to start soon. Danish No30 seed Caroline Wozniacki (2006 Wimbledon juniors winner) warming up against No2 seed and last year’s finalist Ana Ivanovic. Both players wearing pink to match the red clay of the courts.

For those of you who posted messages last night, you’ll have to look at yesterday’s blog to see the comments (which include a message from my wife thanking you all for your anniversary wishes. Awwww).

10.55 am: Gossip from around the courts? Sveta Kuznetsova nearly ran me over in the car park last night but she was all smiles so I forgave her. Top 10 players are allowed to run me over with impunity. Below that, it’s on a case-by-case basis.

10.44 am: Andy Murray’s out there later on over on Court No7 by the way, against No19 seed Nicolas Almagro, who really is a clay court bandeet. So much so that it’s our match of the day. And Todd Perry, who is in my hotel, is in the doubles so we’ll have a quick look at his match later on. They’ve been falling like flies from the singles, my hotel companions (Andujar, Haase, Jesse Huta wotsisname), so hopefully they can do a bit better in the doubles. And if they don’t, well it’s more croissants for me at the breakfast buffet so I’m in the proverbial win-win situation and no mistake.

10.30 am: Morning all! Sleep well, did we? Hope so, because we’ve got a busy day ahead of us. Ivanovic followed by the remains of the day from Sharapova, the Paul-Henri Mathieu and Venus on Chatrier. Lenglen sees Serena, Nadal (again!) Radwanska-Cornet and Djokovic. Jankovic – Cibulkova is on No1, after Schnyder and Tursunov (separately, the bready Russian isn’t facing the frizzy Swissie).

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