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Tuesday 27 May: Tale of the day

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
By Drew Lilley

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10 pm: Sharapova, Nadal, Serena Williams, Bartoli, PHM, Hewitt, Djokovic, Ivanovic… and that’s just the show courts! Dementieva, Petrova, Berdych, Murray and even a Kiwi in there – Marina Erakovic from New Zealand!

Thanks for bearing with us during the rain breaks. I’ll be in later tomorrow but my team-mates will look after you splendidly until I arrive. Until then… always a pleasure, never a chore…

9.53 pm: Still there? As promised, tomorrow's schedule...

8.50 pm: The schedule for tomorrow isn’t up yet but I’ll stay here until it is and then post it for you – how’s that for devotion to duty eh?

8.12 pm: French No1 Marion hung around off-court for a while, a towel round her shoulders to keep her warm (and should you want one of your own, you can buy one here), but that’s it – play suspended for the night I’m afraid.

7.48 pm: Marion breaks again and ooh, the rain is falling. People are heading for the hills and the covers are coming on. Rafa had won his first game on service without breaking a sweat and had just battled to deuce on the Bellucci serve…

7.45 pm: Marat’s flying (into a third set), Rafa’s starting and Casey’s breaking back (5-5) against Marion. This post was brought to you by the gerundive (ie the –ing at the end of the verb).

7.29 pm: Marat breaks (just thought I’d share that with you before I go and get all sandwiched up). He then goes 4-1 up with an ace that he hit about 20 seconds ago and still hasn’t landed. Whoosh-tastic. Marat-mongous.

7.24 pm: How much do I love you all? How much? Enough to miss my dinner. I’m going to have a sandwich (baguette-stylee of course) and a packet of crisps/chips (garlic and frog’s legs flavour) here at my desk. And maybe a beer, a pastis or a flagon of Bordeaux since I am in France after all. Actually my daily allowance won’t stretch to that – local mineral water it is.

7.22 pm: Marion breaks, Casey breaks back. You go girl. Ripper. Little beaut. Unreal (and other Australianisms).

7.15 pm: There we go, allez Amelie. The French GS-winner finally wins 6-1 in the final set, breaking Savchuk after the Ukrainian had saved two match points including one with an ace. Rafa’s up now. That rain-break really did Amelie the world of good - she was fighting demons out there before but it was night and day once she came back out. She faces Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round after the Spaniard defeated France's Pauline Parmentier earlier on. By the way, the Frenchies believe that someone called Parmentier discovered the potato and brought it back to Europe and have a dish called hachis parmentier which Brits call Shepherds or Cottage Pie. Fact of the day.

7.11 pm: Amelie’s 5-1 up and ooh, sorry Marat fans, Lisnard sneaks it 7-5 in the tie-break with a lovely drop. And blimey, my breakfast buddy Robin Haase (we’re in the same hotel for those who haven’t read the entire blog) is 2-0 and 1-0 down in the third to Cilic. Ouch. Niet goed as they say where Robin comes from.

7 pm: 6-2 6-3 6-1. That’s what Robin Soderling has just handed out to No13 seed Johnny Monaco. Whoosh. The Argentinean clay-courter can pack his bags. Triocki – Gicquel is next up on Court 2, while the victorious Swede will face Zverev or another South American Capdeville in the second round. Wawrinka meanwhile has proved that he is (a) Stan the Man and (b) No9 seed with a 3 4 3 win over Kohlschreiber coalwriter cabbagewriter. Ascione and Reynolds up now on 9, they’re 1-1 from last night.

Ooh, Marat. A break and indeed set-point down, he throws down a drop, JR comes to the net and the cricket-style, Marat gets down on one knee (be still your beating hearts, ladies) and lofts a cover drive over the Monegasque’s head – an inch-perfect lob and soon it’s a tie-break. Aie aie aie, ooh la la (as my 2-year-old daughter says a lot – she mostly speaks English and Swiss German but she likes certain French words and ooh la la is one of them, or rather three of them). Anyway, ooh la la, Amelie is 3-0 up in the final set. Rafa – get warmed up, you’re on next. Blimey, 4-0 it is now. Bravo Ameeeeeeee!

6.53 pm: Ooh, Safin breaks back! I could sense your vibes being sent to him from around the world. The big man’s a fighter, as he proved at the Aus Open this year, even if he did go down in five sets to Baghy – a match attended by regular poster Sophiex0x0, she tells me. And speaking of Aussies who are all smiles, here’s one out on Lenglen – Casey Dellacqua, who beat Amelie down in Aus – against Wimbly finalist last year Marion Bartoli. Aye aye, this should be a good match. That’s the great thing about a Slam – you get cracking match-ups in the first round already.

6.48 pm: Davydenko breaks and that’s it, the No4 seed is through. Well played sir. Smooth movement, sending his opponent back and forth while expending a minimum of effort himself. He’ll play the winner of Safin and Lisnard next up – speaking of whom, JR Lisnard has just broken… Sorry Marat fans…

6.45 pm: No-one wants to win the match on Chatrier. Amelie has saved three set points, but it would be more accurate to say that Olga Savchuk has squandered three opportunities. Amelie’s playing scared out there. Set point No4 and the tattooed Frenchwoman again backs off, backs off and Savchuk finally puts away a smash. Third set, Rafa will have to wait… (and so will you Rafa fans).

6.38 pm: Ooh, Cilic took the tie-break 8-6 to lead Robin Haase van Nistelrooij one set to love. And my lanky breakfast buddy is a break-point down… which he saves in masterful fashion, galloping to the net and putting away a backhand volley. Hup Robin hup. Laat de leeuw niet in z’n hempie staan or something like that. Don’t let the lion stand in his slippers, a common Dutch refrain when encouraging their sporting heroes. And it’s worked. Robin holds, it’s 2-2. Clay-court marathon alert. We had a three-setter yesterday that lasted 3h41…

6.29 pm: Amelie holds, just… Right, Marat-watch. Lisnard wins the opener on serve and then Marat replies in kind, behind big serves that send “JR” into the backhand court before Marat whips the ball over to the other side, blows on his nails and then strolls back. Cool as a cuke. His service returns are all over the show at the moment, however – more a danger to the front row of the Court No1 crowd and low-flying birds than his opponent. It’s early doors though and it’s chilly out there.

6.19 pm: We could have up to three hours more play here – it was still light up until 9.30ish last night (OK, light is a relative term but playable). Maria won’t be out but if Ame finishes off her match (she’s down 2-3 so don’t hold your breath) then out comes Rafa the campione. Davydenko’s moving around fine and I don’t think he still has his thigh strapped.

6.15 pm: Crikey, Amelie’s already playing. 7-5 2-2 15-15 on the Ame serve.

6.13 pm: Ooh I say, here he comes. Winner of the 2000 US and 2005 Aus Opens and pin-up of the year for the past decade. Marat Safin, come on down. He’s looking as tall and broody as ever. He’ll be up against a partisan crowd though as he faces Monegasque and former French David Cup player Jean-Rene Lisnard.

6.05 pm: Great move by the organizers. There is still a hint of dampness in the air but it’s perfectly playable, they wouldn’t come off if they were already on and the conditions were like this so let’s get ‘em out there and playing. The fans in the stands deserve it and so do you all. And here they come! Amelie and Olga are back out, and here come Nikolai Strapped Thigh and Tommy J.


5.55 pm: They are sweeping water off the covers with those special squeegee mops (and yes, squeegee is a word). Still raining…. Not much, and the skies aren’t too ominous and if they're squeegeeing then they must be confident of play… To your posts:

- As Lenemie from Belgium below says, last year’s RG started off with rain and was fine after a few days. You sound more like l’amie than l’ennemi, Lenemie…

- Good grief, Ily from Wolverhampton has posted – exactly where I’m from. Well I’m from Zug in Switzerland now but originally from Wolverhampton.

- What do players do while waiting in the locker rooms? They listen to music, play video games, pace up and down and eat bananas. Diet is the most important thing – you can’t wolf down a bowl of pasta just in case the skies clear and you’re suddenly on court, so it’s all fruit (only takes an hour to digest) and energy drinks.

5.22 pm: To keep you further entertained, Araz and Eli are on Wadio Woland Gawwos, chatting up a storm. Speaking of storms, it’s still raining quite a bit here I’m afraid.

5.10 pm: More rain I’m afraid. Fine rain, but rain nevertheless. Do they have video games and the like in the dressing rooms one of you asks (Tristan I think). Oh yes. I thinks it’s Jonas Bjorkman’s son who plays as Rafael Nadal when playing his Dad at video game tennis, and since the pater tends to win, he can legitimately say that “Bjorkman beats Nadal” on regular occasions! Other than that, Svetlana KuziWuzi, who is now on our home page, is a music fanatic and is never without her little personal music player.

4.50 pm: Covers still on, we’re being patient, as are you so thank you for that and for your kind words down below. Let’s have a look at some of these comments:

- All GS tournaments in Oz from 2011 onwards? Nice idea! If the Aussie dollar got a bit stronger I might go down there and take Melbourne by storm!

- You want me to do a Cliff Richard impression on centre court? (For non-Brits, Cliff is a national institution of a singer who was the UK’s answer to Elvis back in the late 50s and is now a housewives’ favourite. A few years ago he was in the Royal Box at Wimbly’s centre court during a rain-break like this one and led the crowd in singing a medley of his hits…) Those of you who listened to Radio Roland Garros last year will have heard me sing Aha’s “Take on me” on the airwaves. When Araz and Eli get back on, maybe I’ll take requests…

4.20 pm: Play to start at 5 pm. The mild-mannered sports blogger has transformed into the caped crusader SuperDrew and managed to “Hold back the rain” (one for you Duran Duran fans out there, a group who, like me, are from the West Midlands of England).

Glad to see you lads and lasses having fun down there in message board territory. Your questions. Yup, the colder it is, the lower the ball stays and that partially negates the Nadal whippy lefty forehand. Someone cleverer than I will explain that it’s all to do with the heat generating more grip or purchase on the surface and then transmitting more impetus and particularly more spin to the ball.

3.52 pm: The rain looks to have stopped and it’s reasonably bright outside. No play before 4.05 is the latest official communiqué (they’ve given me a keyboard without accents but the auto-correct kicked in on the word communiqué. I’ll have to write it each time I want an é on Amélie or Améééééééé).

3.29 pm: Just been to get a bottle of water and it was wet wet wet out there. I could basically have stood outside with my water-bottle open and it would have filled quicker than holding it under a tap. It’s quite windy though so it might blow past quite quickly. Talk amongst yourselves below in the mean time.

3.22 pm: Blimey! Cilic and Haaaaaase were 4-4 in the first-set tie-break when they went off! Poised. On a knife-edge. Hanging in the balance. Couldn’t be any closer. Tighter than a journalist’s wallet that match is…

3.19 pm: Play suspended throughout the ground. Curses. Foiled again by that pesky precipitation…

3.18 pm: NO! The heavens open and play is suspended on Chatrier…

3.16 pm: Safina wins over the tattooed Katy Bondarenko. Davai Dinara as they say where she comes from. Out on Lenglen, Davy Denko is having his left thigh rubbed and now even strapped by the massoooosse. Hmm. Worrying times for the Russian No4 seed, but not that worrying as (a) he’s back out now and (b) he won the second set, like the first, 6-3.

3.13 pm: Svetlana Kuznetsova has completed her match in double-quick time, overcoming Aiko Nakamura 6-2 6-3 thanks to two breaks in each set. Fine form, she’s on is our Sveta – daughter of a family of professional cyclists, dontcha know?

3.12 pm: Let’s have a look at Court 2: Robin Soderling against No13 seed Juan Monaco. Soderling shocked the world (well, those watching the game) by taking the first set and even in the second, clay-courter Johnny Monaco is in a little bother. The Argentinean’s serve is letting him down but ooh, as I write that, he saves a break point with a deft back-hand drop, the like of which Haase dropped earlier. Soderling’s hitting it deep and forcing JM back on his heels and then coming into the net. He’s playing well so far and the Argentinean needs to change things up a little – especially as he’s just gone another break down.

Ah, Dinara breaks back and then holds. 4-3. Her brother’s up soon. That’s Marat Safin, Grand Slam winner and general all-round heartthrob. I’ll give you a fashion warning again when he comes out as I know that he has a million fans around the world who will be itching to see how he’s looking (and you traditionalists can tut tut and switch to another screen for a minute or two while I wax lyrical).

3.02 pm: Fashion alert (those of you who find these passages trivial or demeaning can Ctrl TAB on your computer to the live scoring pages for five minutes). Katy Bondarenko is wearing her hair up today (very fetching it is too) and her open-backed dress is half-revealing a whopper of a tattoo. Easy tiger! Very intricate, it looks. And it works – she’s just broken Dinara (who is wearing her usual crop-top-type affair that shows off a little bit of tummy that she’ll no doubt have to cover up at Wimbledon). Aha, Wawrinka breaks back against Kohlwriter.

2.58 pm: Cilic has broken Haase and Kohlschreiber/Cabbagewriter has broken Stan the Man Wawrinka in the second. Let’s watch some Dinara – recent clay tourney winner (in Berlin) and a set to the good here. She’s been over Katy Bondarenko with her powerful serving, touching 180 km/h (that’s £1.25 in old money). Dinara’s hitting a lot of shots deep and trying to use her strength to build up the pressure on the younger (by 2 years) of the two Bondy sisters.

2.52 pm: Is Amelie finally going to do it? It’s been breakback mountain in this set with four in total, and the Frenchie finally has a set point. And no, Olga battles back to deuce. This set could run and run. Amelie’s such a nervous player in front of her own crowd. Another set point and the Chatrier-ites are right behind her. It’s been winner – unforced - winner – unforced so far and Yes! Amelie takes the set 7-5. The stats back me up (for once!): Ame hit 16 winners and 18 unforced errors in that set.

2.42 pm: Ancic is two breaks up on seeded Seppi, Davydenko has taken the first set from Johansson and Stan the Man is about to do likewise against Kohlschreiber. Yup, there we go, the Swissie leads 1-0 in the trans-Rhine derby on the back of a very strong and accurate first serve.

2.35 pm: Why don’t matches carried over from the previous night start first, I’ve been asked below. That way the players have an idea of what time to try to prepare for. A carried-over match could last five minutes or a few hours, meaning whoever’s up after them has to be ready to play almost from start of play onwards. At least this way then can try to calculate and it saves them hanging around too much. Ame has finally got into her stride and is curling over a few good forehand winners. Here she comes now, serving for the first set.

2.26 pm: Strength, depth and accuracy. Sveta’s got them all and she’s raced to a one-set to love lead over Nakamura. Her service hasn’t been great yet but she’s not double-faulted and she took both the break point chances she had straight away. From one GS winner to another, Amelie’s looking all at sea out there. It’s 3-4 and it’s been deucetastic on her serve for five minutes and the French girl can’t hit a winner to save her life at the moment. Break point, Savchuk looooongs it. Amelie lives to fight another day, under the watchful eye of her coach Loic Courtois courtside.

2.25 pm: Stan the Man’s broken back, get in there my little Swiss mucker! Let’s watch some Cilic – Haase. Big Robin and Marin are deucing it up on the Dutchman’s service in the third match. Robin is leaping up to whip his forehands over while Cilic is on the defensive. Aha, the Croat comes to the net and Robin’s passing shot is wide. Break point… second service… and Big Batavian Bob saves it with a deft backhand drop shot right from the baseline that dies just over the net. Entertaining stuff from these two – could be a clay-court marathon here…

2.17 pm: Double break for Svetlana Kuzzy Wuzzy. She’s a great player and a fun person and I hope she does well this year (after being the beaten finalist two years ago). And after breakfasting with Robin Haase, that lassie Barbara Schett was there on the table next to me at lunch. I reckon she’s following me around…

2.15 pm: Ai is 3-0 up against Alla and much to my Swiss chagrin, Kohlschreiber (which in German means cabbage writer) has broken Stan the man Wawrinka (No9 seed no less). However, my breakfast pal Robin Haase held serve to open against Marin Cilic, whom many of you seem to be supporting. Lots of Croats and Dutchies posting this morning.

2.13 pm: It’s breaktastic out there. DavyDenko Donnie Darko breaks Johansson, Sveta breaks Aiko, Dinara Safina breaks Kateryna and Amelieeeee breaks back against Olga. Oof.

2.08pm: Sugiyama – Kudryatseva is under way and will henceforth be referred to as Ai versus Alla. My fingers are tired enough as it is and we’ve got two weeks of this still to come. And Wimbledon.

2.05 pm: Davydenko and Johansson are out as well, as are Safina and Katy Bondarenko and ooh, Amelie’s been broken by her Ukrainian opponent Olga Savchuk.

2 pm: Action! Amelie’s on court, as is Sveta. Ame’s in a bit of trouble as well already, facing a break point. Clay’s not her favourite, as we know (only surface she hasn’t won a slam on, having won Wimbledon and the Aus). Ah, she’s saved the break point though.

1. 37 pm: Covers coming off everywhere!

1.29 pm: Covers are off Chatrier! Oh ye of little faith! Actually most of you had lots of faith so well done. Still spotting but the start of play approacheth! Bated breath all round…

1.10 pm: Answering your posts. Sorry Moira, yes, Marion Bartoli could (and hopefully will) still play today. I was thinking that she was last up on Lenglen but she’s second so she should be on later this afternoon. Clay is even slower when it’s damp. The dust can turn into like a fine covering of mud. Graf at the net, Agassi at the baseline… yup, their kids are going to be fine all-round tennis players if that’s what they choose! I can still remember Andre in tears here after the 1999 final, four years after his last Grand Slam win and meaning that he’d finally won all four. And then on he went to be a real force in tennis again for the next couple of years…

The rain incidentally is just spotting now. Fingers crossed…

1 pm: We’re looking at 1.30 pm at the moment. Still drizzling here.

12.40 pm: News on Marion Bartoli (a request from Joe B posting down below). The more it rains, the more time she has to recover from the tendinitis that cut short her preparations. She was hoping to play Tuesday meaning that now it will be Wednesday at the earliest before she’s scheduled to come on, maybe even Thursday, so the weather is a boon for her. And her Dad, who’s also her coach, is a doctor, so last year’s Wimbledon finalist is in good hands.

12.35 pm: While we’re waiting here, I want you to tell me who your ideal doubles partner would be. Male or female, it can be men’s, women’s or mixed doubles. While Justine Henin was my favourite player, I think I’d go back to Steffi Graf. I’d hang around on the base line and let her dominate the net. That was a golden period in tennis in my opinion. Graf – Seles, what a rivalry that was and such a shame that it was cut short in its prime. Actually I might have Monica as my doubles partner…

So write in and let me know who your ideal doubles partner would be (for purely sporting reasons, nothing too saucy please!) The winner gets a Internet pat on the back from me.

12. 30 pm: Don’t shoot the messenger… the heavens have just opened and it’s a real downpour. Some of you are asking about schedules – click on the link just above this posting.

12.15 pm: Frustrating here – it’s the kind of drizzle that would definitely not stop play but it’s just enough to keep it from starting. Elaine’s busy posting your comments so keep them coming. Star watch: other than Robin “Ruud van Nistelrooy look-a-like” Haase over breakfast there was blonde bombshell Barbara Schett, former player turned very good interviewer, picking up stats in the press centre. I’ll let you know if I rub shoulders with any more legends.

12 pm: The rain has eased off and we’re aiming for a 12.30 start. Cross those fingers…

11.28 am: Still raining, forecast to rain til 12 then clear slightly. To answer a post down below, damp clay does not bounce as much, hot clay favours wristy topspinners (like Rafa). Roger likes the ball at hip height to hit, but if the clay is hot, Rafa can make it bounce up to shoulder height as he rolls his wrists over the shot. And who says we’ve forgotten Hewitt? He’s our match of the day! Keep those posts coming…

11.15 am: Still rainalicious here. I’m getting flashblacks to Wimbledon 2007… as I mentioned yesterday though, once play gets underway, it takes a real downpour here to get them off court as clay isn’t a dangerous surface when wet, unlike grass. Lots of comments, and if yours hasn’t appeared yet don’t worry, Daniela’s upstairs moderating them at lightning speed, quicker than a Schultz-McCarthy serve. Keep ‘em coming. Having I seen any live tennis yet, I’m asked. Not this year, I’m too busy faithfully blogging for you guys. But we have young Elaine here who has already spelled me on a lunch break without any of you noticing, so I might actually get out and see some play quite soon. Providing the rain stops…

10.42 am: Eww, the rain’s getting worse…Come on all of you people from sunny climes, send us some good vibes, good wishes and above all good weather…

10.37 am: Your comments will be up once we can plough through all the North American and Antipodean ones from overnight so keep posting, fret not they’ll be there. Let us know your tips for the day. Mine is for Robin Haase to beat Mario Cilic (first up, hopefully at 11). I had a quick chat with Big bad Bob after breakfast and he seemed pretty confident.

10.20 am: Well helloooooo! Welcome to today’s blog. And how are we all on this bright and breezy Tuesday? Bright and breezy… well not quite actually. My early morning jog was in crisp conditions but the drizzle has started and the covers are still on for the moment. It’s barely spotting though so we may yet start on time.

We have a top line-up for you today, with Rafa, Maria, Sveta and other people whose names don’t end in –a but they could almost - Mara (Safin), Nicola (Davydenko), Stanisla (Wawrinka), Ma (-rion Bartoli… OK I’m pushing it with that one). Post on the forum down below (the comments from last night and this morning will appear soon, I promise) and let us know who you fancy for today. The schedule’s there at the top of the page, as are all the other useful links (I’m good to you, ain’t I?)

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