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Thursday 29 May: Tale of the day

Thursday, May 29, 2008
By Drew Lilley

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10.10 pm: The new schedule hasn’t been published yet, but when it is, it’ll be here. Right, that’s it from me – I need some dinner. Thanks for reading and posting all day (and for wishing the lady wife and me a happy anniversary!). I’ll be back tomorrow of course, with a great day’s play (and good weather) in store. Until then, take care. Always a pleasure, never a chore…

9.48 pm: Oof, what a day. Get ready for the third round, starting tomorrow. Cracking games in prospect. As soon as the schedule is up I’ll post it here.

9.37 pm: On Chatrier, ump Kader Nouni wanted to play on but Maria wasn’t happy about the lack of light. She made her point well, and politely I might add, and so Kader called play off as Bethanie Mattek also agreed. Sharapova had just broken back so they will start again at 2-3 with the No1 seed to serve.

9.35 pm: Play suspended til tomorrow.

9.34 pm: Mini-breakback mountain but Hanescu mini-breaks again. Tiredness creeping in for both players who are making simple mistakes. Hanescu serves for the set at 6-5 and Serra hits a winner. Hanescu asks the ump, who comes down and raises the finger. The ball was out, Hanescu lives to fight another day.

9.32 pm: More French action – Florent Serra is on court 17 taking on Viktor Hanescu from Romania. Serra is 2-0 up at there is a tie-break in the third, with Hanescu a mini-break up at 4-3.

9.30 pm: Maria really isn’t living up to her No1 billing. Mattek leads 3-1 in the second, in shades of yesterday’s first round match for Sharapova.

9.28 pm: Robredo finally takes it. Bravo, nay Vamos, Tommy! He’ll face Stepanek in the next round after No21 seed Radek beat Vanek in four sets earlier today.

9.22 pm: Gicquel holds, Robredo will serve at 5-4, for the match, after the changeover.

9.20 pm: It took Sveta 1h25 – a tad longer than I called but straight sets and impressive nevertheless.

On No2, gallant Gallic Gicquel is fighting to stay in the match but Robredo is showing his class. The Spaniard leads 5-3 in the fourth with Gicquel serving to avoid defeat. Maria meanwhile is at 1-1 with Bethanie Mattek to serve. She’s not hit her stride as yet, the No1 seed.

9.15 pm: Sveta wins. Davai Svetlana! She’ll probably have to face her countrywoman Petrova in the next round as the latter leads 6-3 2-1 (with a break) in her game against Alisa Kleybanova (so a Russian either way). Petrova has just broken with a backhand service return on a second serve that powered down the line.

9.10 pm: Maria fiiiinally takes the first set, 6-2 but that eighth game was a long one. The night is drawing in and a few players are trying either to finish off quickly (Kuzi Wuzi 6-4 5-1), have finished off (Ginepri, who has beaten Andreev the clay-court bandeet) or get the game called off until tomorrow. Gicquel is one of those, having had a massage from the trainer which brought the match ref out. He’s 4-3 (but a break down) in the fourth against T-Rob.

9 pm: Nadia Petrova, the women’s No25 seed who’s been sliding down the rankings this year, is out on court No4 and has just taken the first set from Alisa Kleybanova. Her reward for winning would be a probable date with Kuznetsova, who leads Vania King 3-0 in the second set and is on her own serve now.

8.54 pm: Monfils wins and the crowd (and my Gallic colleagues) go wild! Great win. He’ll face Melzer in the next round (and then it’s Davy Denko after that if he can keep this run going).

8.49 pm: Painful scenes on Lenglen. Horna is in agony with his thigh which the massoooosse has just been rubbing, bring tears to the Peruvian’s eyes. Gael himself can barely continue, so exhausted he is, and we’re back on court after the break with “Little Jack” Horna serving at 30-40, 5-5… Horna attacks, Monfils defends, the Peruvian hits one out and tosses his racquet down in disgust! 6-5 to Monf, and service to the Frenchman to come. The trainer is back out giving the South American’s quads a good pummeling and it would appear that he’s good to go…

8.45 pm: CMoan! The Hew has won, Fish has been served up on a platter. Lleyton now faces Ferrer in the third round (harsh reward for such a fine win) and you Aussies can finally go to bed – oh hang on, it’s time to get up over there…

Kuzi wins the first set 6-4 (despite 11 unforced errors) and there’s still lots of sunshine here. Plenty of time for her to close it out or Van-eye-ah to launch a comeback. Maria meanwhile is 3-1 up. Monfils – Horna-watch coming up.

8.38 pm: Hispanic failure shocker! The Hithpanophoneth are reputed for their clay-court prowess but there is only one Argentinean left in the men’s draw, and that is rank outsider Eduardo Schwank – he of the hotel room mishaps (thank goodness he’s not in my hotel!) Amazing. Nalby out, Chela out…

8.35 pm: Mattek’s dress is actually an off-the-shoulder number – maybe to try to put Maris off her stride by showing the Russian what a healthy shoulder should look like. Maria’s shoulder problems seem to be behind her though and she’s two-up. Two-up is incidentally a traditional Australian game involving a couple of coins and played on ANZAC day, which brings me nicely around to Lleyton Hewitt, who has broken in the third (and final?) set to lead 4-2. CMoan!

8.34 pm: Yes, the No1 women’s seed has been bumped up onto Chatrier and will be looking to finish things off swiftly against Bethanie Mattek before night falls. She’s made a good start, breaking to open. For fashion gurus out there, both ladies are in evening wear, ie fetching little black numbers, as incidentally is Sveta Kuznetsa, who will need to get a wiggle on if she’s to keep that dinner reservation at 9.30. 4-3 to the Russian who is about to serve.

8.27 pm: Monfils has hardly played of late and is looking like his tank is running on fumes out there. 3-4, his Ad on his serve. Hold on there, Gael. Kuzy Wuzy has finally broken again – a mammoth game on the King serve – and then strolled to hold but she ain’t gonna win in the 48 minutes I predicted. Hewitt meanwhile is at 2-2 in the third set with Fish – and OOH, Sharapova on Chatrier!

8.13 pm: Ooh la la. Ferrer wipes le floor avec Battling Fab 0, 1 and 0. Ouch. Aie aie aie. Ferrer could well face Hewitt in the next round, especially as the Aussie is 2-0 up and battling to break Fish to open the third. Ouch, my Sveta prediction has come back to bite me in the derriere. Vania has brokeback mountained and it’s 2-2 on her serve.

8.05 pm: Come on Aussie come on, come on! Fish fillets his chances by double-faulting to hand Hew the second set. CMooooooan!

8 pm: Sveta 2-0 on Vania (pronounced Vanya, not rhyming with Shania) within 6 minutes. Told ya! T-Rob has broken Gicquel in the third, Ferrer’s about to make it 4-0 in the final (OK third) set. The crowd applaud every point by Santoro like it was Yannick Noah back in 1983. Poor guy – he had Federer wipe the floor with him at this year's Aus Open but he takes it all with a smile. He’ll have a fine career to look back on in a few years time and he’s always got a smile on his face.

7.52 pm: Yet another brilliant Russian-watch: Sveta Kuznetsova’s on court No1 (my favourite court here, a nice little arena, all enclosed with great views for everyone). The St Petersburg-born 2004 US Open winner is the champion-elect after JuJu Henin decreed her as her successor. She’s certainly got the game for clay and what’s more she’s a spankingly nice person. And she also has ditched those braids she had last year that really didn’t suit her. Not that the lilac tracksuit top she has on at the moment does her any favours. She faces Vania King, who must have been surprised to get through her first round match here as she was 2-10 on the year coming in. I predict a riot. Kuzy Wuzy to win in 48 minutes.

7.45 pm: T-Rob equalizes against Gicquel but more importantly, Davy Denko (© Drew) has steamrollered Marat in straight sets. Marat really missed out when he was a break up in the first set. Sorry ladies (indeed all Marat fans), you need someone else to drool over now. Davy will face Ivan Ljubicic after the Croatian No28 seed beat Argentina’s Diego Junqueira. Battle of the baldies that one will be.

Monfils meanwhile is serving for a 2 sets to love lead on Lenglen but has just slipped and done the splits, prompting him to say “Sacre bleu” or some other Gallic equivalent of “Oof, me shorts have just ripped”. He’s overcome that Jelena Jankovic attempt at acrobatics and… has won the second set. Good on him – he’s been on lousy form this year and went to Casablanca last week to get some games in as he lost in the first round at Munich, so it’s good to see him on form here. He taps his chest at the end of the set, bigging himself up and well he might.

7.36 pm: Crumbling Fab wins a game! Chatrier is on its feet! And blimey, another of my Facebook friends, Chaka Tadz (Anna Chakvetadze is far too long to type out) has lost the first set to Kaia Kanepi, the Estonian rising star. Alize Cornet will be pleased about that – no love lost between the French fancy and the Russian No3 (and yet she’s No6 in the world. Russia is just tooooo good).

7.30 pm: As was pointed out below, Hewitt has battered Fish in the first set. Be prepared for Fish to be gutted and done like a kipper in the coming sets.

7.20 pm: Wow! Hew’s a break up but how’s about Ferrer? Sorry, forgot to put the link up earlier, here it is. Ferrer bageled “Battling Fab” Santoro and is 1-0 up in the second in 32 minutes. Battling Fab, as they call him here? Wilting Fab more like.

7.12 pm: Irascible Russian losing his temper-watch. Guess which one… tee hee! Marat is 2-0 in sets and 3-0 in games down and has jumped had an angry swish, swish, swish with his racquet. His sister meanwhile is through and will face 25 equally talented Russians between now and a week on Saturday.

7.05 pm: Hewitt – Fish-watch. Fish has a big beard, a la Tursunov, while Lleyton is sporting a wispy attempt at designer stubble. Cap for LLL, tied-on headband for Fish. What, you want tennis comments? OK, the Hew has just broken to lead 3-2 and was looking smooth like a banana smoothie on Bondi beach. Fish of course is no push-over, having got to the final in the Masters Series at Indian Wells this March, beating Nalbandian, Federer, Davydenko, Andreev and none other than Hewitt himself, before losing to Djoker in the final. And now Fish has broken back, no sweat. CMoan, says Hew to himself. He’ll need plenty more exhortations like that between now and darkness.

6.59 pm: To answer earlier questions posted down below (sorry, I was still drooling at Dinara and reeling from the fact that a poster had called me Drewy and was falling in lurve with my writing), Maria might not have time to come on (though Monfils has finally taken the first set) and we should play for another two hours. Maybe she could be moved to another court – nah, looking at it, she’s jut going to have to wait.

Davydenko wins the second set 6-2 and changes shirts. Much to my colleague Orla’s chagrin, Marat does neither. Hewitt-watch coming, I promise.

6.55 pm: Ferrer (No5 seed) leads Santoro on Chatrier – read a preview here. Gael my son is in a tie-break with Horna-th-th-th. It’s 4-4. And next we’ll have a good ocker Aussie Hewitt-watch for you boofheads (term of Australian endearment – contradiction in terms?) still awake out there.

6.51 pm: Right, I’m going to hero-worship Dinara Safina in the same way that you all drool over her hunky bro. Tall, blonde, smiley and incredibly talented – what more could you want? She’s bageled (bagled? bagelled?) her poor opponent who’s name is too long for me to type out again and leads 1-0 in the second. Dinaraaaaa, we loooove you! Only Kirilenko, Sharapova, Dementieva then Kuznetsova stand in her way to the final (ah… trickier than I thought). Wow – all Russian. Bravo Russia – big up yourselves. How much talent have you guys got? A Bolshoi amount of talent. Incredible.

6.41 pm: Enough of Marat (currently 4-1 down in the second), let’s see how his lil sis is doing. Dinara’s on court No17 and leading 4-0 over Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova. Dinara’s the form bunny in the family (ooh, even more so, it’s 5-0 now) after winning in Berlin, beating Serena and Elena on the way. And of course, someone else she beat there was JuJu Henin. Trivia question in years to come – who beat Henin in her last ever match? Clue, she smiles more than her brother…

6.38 pm: Hi hon hi hon, my Frenchie colleagues cry, and they make a cockadoodle doo cock-crowing sound that people in this country make when one of their own wins. Why? Because Gicquel has taken the first set tie-break 9-7 from T-Rob. The Spanish No12 seed will need to turn things around.

6.35 pm: Gicquel slips on set-point allowing T-Rob to make it to 6-6, 6-6. A devilish scoreline and no mistake. Meanwhile Szavay, which I misspelled earlier, has beaten Lisicki and will face Kvitova in the next round, who beat lil Sammy Stosur 2 and 1 earlier on. Aussie Aussie Aussie, out out out I’m afraid there.

6.32 pm: Fed wins. After the first set it was business as usual. He’s doing it the hard way this year, but as many of you have pointed out, the big match in this tourney could well be the potential Nole Djokovic – Rafa Nadal semi…

6.29 pm: Davy breaks to open the second. The Marat bandwagon is losing steam. Jen now reckon she fancies Devilder more after processing a number of photos for him for the gallery. One bandwagon that isn’t losing steam is the Fed Express. He’s serving for the match.

6.26 pm: My facebook friend Maria Kirilenko is on court playing China’s Jie Zheng. She’s listed as “in a relationship” for those of you hoping to be accepted by her and then message or poke her or rate her a one of your hottest friends.

6.25 pm: Knapp means tight in German for those of you who didn’t pick it up earlier and it’s tight in deed – tie-break in the second. And by the time I’ve typed this, Karin the Italian No32 seed has gone from 4-4 to 7-4 and eliminated Olivia Sanchez. She’ll face Maria Sharapova or Bethanie Mattek, up later on Chatrier. And this now means that C’MOOOOON LLLeyton Hewitt with his backwards cap and ideal height and weight will be up next.

6.18 pm: Mini-break back then mini-break up from Davydenko, the latter with a subliiiiime passing shot on the backhand. Marat then tries to find the line on the next point but misses by the width of one of his chest hairs that he is proudly showing off with his unzipped top. Big service and Davydenko takes the first set. Sorry Marat-droolers.

6.15 pm: Mini-break for Malinki Marat! Darn, Davy Dances back and it’s 4-4.

6.11 pm: Federer breaks in the final (sorry fourth) set, while on Lenglen, Gael “La Monf” Monfils my son has broken Luis Horna from Peru, who has no s or z’s in his name for me to mispronounce.

Davy Denko – Safin is into a tie-break, 2-2 with serve at the moment. Tight.

6.02 pm: T-Rob (Tommy Robredo) is out playing Marc Gicquel. I bet Fatima, who posts down below, doesn’t know which match to follow as she regularly drools over both T-Rob and Marat – the latter having been pegged back to 5-5 by Davy Denko. He’ll regret that… You don’t let the No4 seed off the hook like that.

Over in the Chatrier match, Federer has been sliding (an integral part of clay tennis) so much better since the restart.

6 pm: Kolya Davydenko saves one, then two set points. The girls next to me stop drooling and starting looking anxious. Second serve, Marat loooongs it. Deuce. Biiiig chance, right there, just gone.

5.59 pm: Kiwiiiii! Erakovic is out again, playing the doubles, and in a tie-break to avoid going out. Agnes Szavay, the Hungarian No12 seed, has just edged a first set tie-break over Germnay’s Sabine Lisicki. Ooh, three set points for Marat!

5.55 pm: Federer bagels the third set. Now THAT’s more like it. Kolya (short for Nikolai) and Marat are 4-4. To Jaco who posted down below about South Africa’s 11 official languages, I was actually at the Afrikaanse Taalmonument last year – the monument to the country’s languages – in Paarl. And very… big… it was too.

5.40 pm: Rafa wins the sprint between him and Rog by a mile, winning the final set 6-1. Rog meanwhile is a break up in the third and 0-30 up on the Montanes serve…Ah. Bad news for Marat fans – the magic has worn off already. Davydenko breaks back and will serve at 2-3. My colleagues weep bitter salt tears…

5.35 pm: Ladies (and gents), here he is – mouthwateringly melt-worthy Marat (or so I’m informed by Elaine, Orla and Jenny sitting alongside me, glued to the screen). And the 2-time GS winner is buzzin’ – 3-0 up on Davydenko and 30-30 on the No4 seed’s serve. Is the big comeback under way?

5.33 pm: One set all. Federer warded off a couple of break points and now it’s level pegging. Devilder meanwhile has taken a consolation game off Nadal in the final, sorry third set. But guess who’s on court No1?

5.28 pm: Andujar falls. They’re dropping like flies from my hotel… Gonzalez will face Stan the Man Wawrinka in the next round – No24 v No9 – the big games will be coming thick and fast. And elegant Elena Dementieva has won, beating Marta Domachowska 6-1 6-4. She’ll face Olga Govortsova after the Belarusian beat Japanese No31 seed Aiiiii Macarena, sorry Aiiii Sugiyama earlier today.

5.25 pm: Turnaround alert. Rog earns a second break then strolls to hold and lead 5-0 in the second. Nadal meanwhile is “anything you can do I can do better”-ing. 4-0 up in the third and eight points from his second victory in as many days.

5.20 pm: My hotel-mate Andujar has taken it to a tie-break in the fourth in his bid to stay in the match against Gonthaleth. But he’s not bidding very high – the Chilean No24 seed is already a mini-break up.

5.18 pm: In the other battle of the pink princesses, home favourite Olivia Sanchez is serving at 1-5 down against Italian No32 seed Karin Knapp. And she’s served and held, but is still two breaks down. Any game involving Knapp should be a tight one (German pun there) but this one certainly isn’t.

5.17 pm: Nadal breaks to lead 2-0 in the final (sorry third) set. Awesome. Inexorable. At the moment – untouchable.

5.15 pm: Ladies and gentlemen, normal service has been resumed. Rog breaks Montanes and leads 2-0. Even in breaking he didn’t look on top form though – coming to the net with the whole court open he hit the ball at Montanes’ feet. The Spaniard dug the ball out but his lob was not high enough and Federer smashed to win. A much-needed confidence-booster however. Meanwhile in the battle of the pink princesses, Marta Domachowska has broken against Elena Dementieva. It’s 4-4 on the Polish girl’s serve and they’re giving it some deuce deuce baby.

5.05 pm: On his own service, Rog nets an easy forehand. Two set points… Second serve, Montanes hits one juuuuust out. Monty to serve now though, Federer longs the service return and the world No1 has lost the opening set (he even asks the chair umpire to check but yes, it was out, the finger is up).

Kazay Dellak Ah wins 6-4 6-2. Aussie Aussie Aussie etc. She’ll face Carla Suareh Nabarro in the next round – the Tinerfe (ie person from Tenerife) who beat Amelie de Montmartre.

Ooh, and despite a few deuces, Devilder succumbed and ceded the second set to Nadal in bagel fashion.

5 02 pm: Tie-break for the Fedster and it’s 4-4, all with serve. And now 5-4 Montanes after Rog loooongs one. Pressure time…

4.56 pm: Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi watch, even though it’s the wee hours for you guys over there. Casey Dellacqua, or Kazay Dellack Ah, as they call her here, is on top form. She shoved Amelie out of the Aus Open and may well do the same to another French Grand Slam winner Nath Dechy (I was informed earlier that we should count the doubles in our discussion, and Nath and Andy Ram won the mixed doubles here last year). She’s been painting the lines since she got back out and whooshka! She’s broken Nath to 15, the deciding point coming on a double fault from the Belgium-residing, Guadeloupe-born Frenchy.

4.55 pm: Montanes holds to lead 6-5. Rog shanked a good few forehands straight into the front row seats there…

4.50 pm: Right here we are, stand by your beds. Federer – Montanes back under way. Elena – Marta has also started and Sammy Stosur, doubles legend, is about to come onto court 6, for any of you Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Ois out there. And if you are out there, then tune into Radio Roland Garros as Antipodean Frank is about to come on the airwaves.

4.30 pm: Covers coming off! Yay!

4.20 pm: The rain has almost totally eased off, they are squeegeeing away and I reckon we’ll be back on soon. Ah, I say that and it starts spotting again but everyone’s very keen to get out there, so as soon as it stops (or even abates to a mere fine drizzle), they’ll be out there before you can say Nuria Llagosteras Vives, Carla Suareh Nabarro or Virginia Ruano Pascual. Or even Martin Vassallo Arguello, who will serve to save the match at 1-2, 5-6 down to Finnish No26 seed Jarkko Nieminen once we get back out.

4 pm: Interesting bit of Canary Island chat down there in the messages. “Carla Suarez Navarro is from the Canary Islands, where they pronounce the Z like an S, or sometimes don't even pronounce it at the end of words. So her name would sound more like "Carla Suareh Nabarro",” says Ricardo. Indeed. I was there this year staying in a hotel called Principe Paz, and when I’m in Spain, to ingratiate myself I pronounce everything as a “th”. S, C, Z… the lot. Over there, they called the hotel Princhipay Pah, which confirms Ricardo’s assessment.

3.55 pm: Just been outside and the rain’s pretty strong. At least it gives Devilder a time to regroup – after pushing Rafa all the way in the first set he was being brushed aside in the second stanza – 5-0 down he was.All you Aussies, if you’re still awake, must be disappointed that Casey was stopped in her tracks. 6-4 2-1 up she was against Nathalie Dechy. She should still be out there – Dellacqua by name so she shouldn’t be afraid of the rain.

It’s a shame too for my Spanish hotel pal, who sat opposite me at desayuno, as he would call it, this morning (that’s breakfast to you and me). After being swept aside in the first two sets against Chilean No24 seed Fernando Gonthaleth, he took the third on a tie-break and was 5-5 in the fourth.

Someone mentioned below that JJ Jankovic has indeed won a GS – the mixed doubles last year in company of Jamie Murray which is of course true. Murray is out there at the moment with big bad Belarus boy Max Mirnyi, and playing another of my hotel buddies Robin Haase along with South African Rick de Voest (are all Dutch-speakers called something beginning with R? Haase, De Voest, Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy, Krajicek (brother and sister), Cruyff… hang on… that’s not right). Anyway, it’s a set all in that battle. And Robin’s singles conquerer Marin Cilic is getting his just desserts for knocking my breakfast buddy out by losing the first two sets, both on tie-breaks, to Stan the Man, the Swiss swinger.

3.38 pm: The rain is getting a little stronger I’m afraid. As soon as there is an announcement about a weather forecast and when play should restart I’ll let you know.

3.27 pm: The squeegees are out everywhere else but the D’s continue to play. 2-0 Elena, maybe she’s staying on to get her match finished! You know what it’s like. You’re 3-1 up in the final set and it’s getting dark and your opponent wants to go home but you stay on. Or it’s time to vacate the court, the next people are waiting to come on but you’re dying to get one more game in… Elena looks as keen as that. Is she the best player never to win a Grand Slam? Onthebaseline.com debated this subject quite recently and plenty of names were mentioned, not the least of which being the likes of Jankovic and Ivanovic already, as well as Petrova and of course going back to the likes of Pam Shriver. Elena has to be up there. Ah, and she’s off. Play suspended throughout.

3.20 pm: Play suspended everywhere except the battle of the pinky D’s. Olivia Snachez – Karin Knapp on No3 court is also an all-pink battle but they’re waiting under umbrellas (which you can purchase here) for the rain to stop. Elena breaks to open the second set. Such a graceful, fragile player, carrying on despite the rain. She deserves our admiration (as does her opponent Marta Domachowska).

3.19 pm: Rog finally holds after a battle at the net and off they go – play suspended.

3.17 pm: It’s raining quite persistently here but the players are staying out. Federer loooongs one when under no pressure to give Montanes a set point but then booms down an ace. Ah, play suspended in Nadal’s match on Lenglen.

3.13 pm: Salmon pink Elena beats shocking pink Marta 6-1, though the last game went to 348 deuces (well it seemed like it was that many). Meanwhile Federer is at deuce on his own serve at 4-5. Ah, a booming serve right down the middle gets him Ad, ooh, then Montanes cross-courts a beaut. Rog’s in trouble here. He’s No56 in the world this young lad, so no mug, and reached the third round here the last two years. Fed’s not on his game here – Montanes lays down a drop that is too long and Rog has all the time in the world to come in and kill it but he hits it wide.

3.10 pm: Rafa’s strolling away with his second set, holding breaking and holding in double, nay treble quick time. Maybe by a week on Sunday it’ll be quadruple quick time, if you see what I mean. Federer meanwhile is really having his work cut out against Montanes. Maybe’s he’s waiting for game 11 to break…

2.54 pm: Elegant Elena, who reached the final here (and at the US) in 2004 breaks and leads 4-1, while Nadal has again broken and taken the first set – harsh on Devilder who resisted for nine games then Rafa broke when it was too late to come back – in the 10th game. Rafa is getting round to get inside on the forehand at every opportunity and varying the length of his shots, as is his wont.

Montanes is more than holding his own against Federer, 3-2 up with serve.

2.50 pm: We’re D-ed up to the max here. Domachowska – Dementieva and Dellacqua – Dechy. Both are going with serve in the first set. It’s drizzling out there so this is more like the Rafa weather luck but we’re staying out there – it takes more than a few spots of rain to get us off the courts.

2.42 pm: Federer’s determined to make his mark in this opening game but Montanes is determined not to let him, and the Spaniard finally holds after a 10-minuter.

2.40 pm: Nadal broken! I repeat, Nadal broken! He’d already broken Devilder though so it’s as you were, but still. Nadal broken! Tell your friends, it doesn’t happen that often…

2.32 pm: Rafa’s got those straps beneath his knees as usual and it’s not something that ever appears to hamper him. His shots are incredible to watch – his forehands seem to hang, hover, wobble then accelerate in the air all in one…

2.25 pm: Federer’s about to come on court to face Montanes while Elena Dementieva – elegant Elena – will soon appear on No2. Ooh, Rafa’s on Lenglen, 3-2 up with serve over French upstart Nicolas Devilder. Knowing Rafa’s luck it’ll rain any minute now (but since Roger usually gets all the meteorological luck and he’s going to be out at the same time, something’s gotta give).

2.19 pm: And Chardy wins! Allons enfants de la patrie and all that! The No6 seed is out! Whoosh! The Argentinean only took five games in the last three sets. He’ll face Tursunov in the third round after the amply bearded Russian No30 seed double-bageled Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after the first set tie-break (ie the score was 7-6 6-0 6-0). A bagel looks like a “0”, hence bagelling someone.

2.18 pm: Frenchie good news. Chardy is two breaks up on HeadBandian in the final set and serving for the match. And he’s had two break points against him, saved them and now it’s match point.

2 14 pm: Frenchies – do you want the good news or the bad news? Bad: Ameliiieee got rebroken and Suareththth Nabbbbarro has three match-points. And it only takes one – Ameeeee is out. Bravo Carla Suarez Navarro, who is applauded on by her compatriot and former three-time RG winner Arantxa Santchez-Vicario in the crowd (looking absolutely radiant, I might add. Indeed I just have added). Ameee just can’t cut it here at RG. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her retire after Wimbledon (she likes the grass there) as she doesn’t seem to be enjoying her tennis. Maybe Wimbly will remotivate her. But the good news is…

2 pm: Home favourite in trouble alert. Ameliiieeee is not only a set down but a break down in the second. Suareththththth Navarro is serving at 3-2 up and Aha! I’ve brought her luck – Ameliiiiieeeee digs deep and break back. Bravo Amelie.

Ooh! Ooh! Nalby breaks, Chardy breaks back. It’s all ‘appening ‘ere!

1.55 pm: Drew back, thanks Elaine. Cracking stuff as always. So, remember what I said earlier about Blake not having the temperament for Grand Slams? Gulbis has dumped him out unceremoniously in four sets. That’s the No7 seed bidding adieu to the tournament. He arguably has the seventh best talent level in the world does Blake but in the big tournaments, he barely merits a seeding. Poor guy.

Speaking of seeds in trouble, the battle of the (Head-)Bands is well and truly on. Nalby took sets one and two but since then, Chardy the Frenchie has leveled, winning to 2 and 1 in sets three and four.

1.50 pm: Gulbis has just taken the match with a classic backhand down the line…I know a lot of you guys will be happy with that result..

1.46 pm: And Alizé’s most underrated player, Jeremy Chardy has taken the fourth set with ease against Nalbandian (6-1)…who happens to be one of my favourites..come on David!!

1.44 pm: So that makes way for the king of clay Rafafafafaaaaa….

1.40 pm: The guys are getting all excited on Radio Roland Garros (the French ones that is)…Alize Cornet has just broken to win her second match…she’s showing great promise, which is much in need in French women’s tennis…Momo’s dropped the first set..

1.36 pm: Cornet could wrap this up now…0-30 on Dulko’s serve at 4-5 in the final set…

1.34 pm: It’s a case of anything you can do, I can do better…Navarro this time passing Momo with a sweet volley...ooh and then more of the same from the frenchie as she holds serve!

1.30 pm: Ernests is battling it out on every point of Blake’s serve but two forehands long hands the American the game so we’re even-stevens..Momo just hit a nice volley to pass her opponent at the net..she’s gonna need plenty more of that, she ain’t looking too hot…

1.20 pm: Cornet is back out against Dulko on Lenglen after their match got called to a halt yesterday evening and it’s at deuce on the teenager’s serve...

1.16 pm: Gulbis has just given Blake the run around and then drops one over the net to break and take the 3rd set!

1.14 pm: Aha…nobody’s holding serve in Momo’s game..she’s just broken to love so it now stands in her favour to break away in the first set..

1.10 pm: It’s still fairly tight between Blake and Gulbis…the youngster from Latvia seems to have impressed a lot of you..let’s see if he can come away with this set.

1.06 pm: Hi folks! Drew’s just popped out for a bite to eat so it’s Elaine here again keeping you informed…Mauresmo’s game has just kicked off against suave Navarro..she’s already broken serve so let’s hope she holds her own…

1.01 pm: And Jelena does it. The Kiwi was staunch, put up a brave fight and JJ will need to sort out her arm problem before the next round but she’s through to Round 3 where she will face the lovely Dominika Cibulkova.

1 pm: JJ breaks again. Match point!

12.59 pm: Marina the Kiwi serves at 5-4. Two points with serve and it’ll be all tied up at 1-1 in sets. No, JJ mini-breaks back!

12.55 pm: Gulbis – Blake is going with serve, 4-3 in the third so we’ll have a look at that later. Eranovic is trying to wear out JJ and doing a good job of it. She gets the mini-break by bashing JJ into submission.

12.52 pm: Jankovic and Eranovic is into a tie-break after the Kiwi broke back. At the change-over, it couldn’t be tighter – 3-3. How is JJ’s wrist holding up?

12.45 pm: Whoosh. Three points later and Venus has three break, game, set and match points. Selima saves one, then a second, then has to second serve and Venus seals the deal with a beaut down the line. She’ll face Pennetta in the next round (most likely – it’s 5-1 in that match).

12.40 pm: 4-4 in the second set on Chatrier. Venus comes to the net and puts it into the corner where Sfar is standing so the Tunisian hoists up a backhand lob that Venus scrambles to return and proceeds to net. Venus does the same next time up only better, killing the point. 5-4 Venus and the pressure’s on Selima (which is incidentally a lovely name. Hello and indeed Salaam to any Selima’s out there). Serena’s there watching Venus at the moment.

12.35 pm: Little pen/little feather Pennetta has totally turned back the steam in her match as the Frenchies say. From a set down she’s now 3-0 up over Pavlyuchenko in the third. Blake took the second 6-3 from Gulbis while HeadBandian is serving for the second set against Chardy.

12.33 pm: Erakovic is back to 4-4 in the second set. Jankovic seems to be swinging OK, despite her painful wrist. That lassie plays so much tennis it’s bound to take it’s toll. Less is more, Jelena my lovely, less is more…

12.27 pm: Garcia-Lopez and the bearded Russian are 3-3 at the tie-break change-over (we’re getting hyphened-up again). Ooh, mini-break. Dimi comes to the net and volleys a winner down the line. He now needs to make his two services count. Bimmm. 187 kh/h (three stone 12 pounds in old money) is what his ace is recorded as. A baseline rally follows and G-L mini-breaks back with a cross-courter that goes loooow over the net and dies on the Russian. 4-5 but Dimi pounces on what was a decent first serve and it’s 4-6. Dimi wants this. He’s hungry. Like a man stuck at sea for three months who hasn’t been able to shave and has grown a nautical beard. Which he has. Garcia-Lopez finds the net cord with a forehand and the ball just won’t climb over so Dmitry has the first set. On come the attendants to sweep and dust away the remnants of 75 minutes action. At this rate it’ll be a 6h15 minute job if it goes to five sets. Dmitry’s beard will be even more full by then (my Dad will sigh and tsk at that – something’s either full or it isn’t – it can’t be fuller…)

12.24 pm: How will Lleyton do, you ask below. Or rather JiMMy asks below. He will win, since he is a perfect physical specimen. 1.79m, 78 kilos. The ideal weight for a man. Unfortunately he is 10 years and eight days younger than me, so the comparisons stop there (though my wife is as attractive as his – the lovely Bec Cartwright).

12.20 pm: Injury alert… Jelena Jankovic has the trainer on who is massaging her right forearm and wrist. “It started gradually, little by little, but now it’s getting swollen. I feel like the balls are getting heavier to hit,” she’s saying by way of explanation to the ump. She wants the trainer back at the next changeover.

12.08 pm: A game of two halves on court 3. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (longest name in tennis? Maybe Nuria LLagostera glamourphoto is longer…) took the first 6-3 but Italian No26 seed Flavia Pennetta (little feather I reckon that means but I’m open to contradiction – I’ve been married for four years after all…) leads 3-0 in the second. Flavia’s making her younger opponent run hither and thither at the moment and this looks like going to a third set.

12.05 pm: Nalby has taken the first set from Chardy in the battle of the headbands. Someone should’ve told Jeremy that you can’t out-headband HeadBandian. The hair may be long but the Argentine’s looking to make the points shorter, attacking at the net and whoosh, he can also hit an inch-perfect passing shot from the baseline when he wants to. Which he does to make it 1-1 in the second.

11.57 am: A jackhammer of a forehand from Blake makes it 2-5, and that’s all well and good but it’s a little late for that. Gulbis comes to the net on his next service, putting the pressure on the American who hits a passing shot wide and then they each repeat the move next point up – Ernests puts the pressure on, James folds and there you go. One set to love for the Latvian.

11.55 am: Tie-break it is and Blake is already two mini-breaks down. Ernests drops a droptastic drop and it’s 4-0. then 5-0. Blake wakes up in his serve but it’s still 5-1 at the changeover.

11.48 am: Sets ahoy. JJ wins the first 6-2, Dominika takes hers 6-3 and Venus also snaffles a 6-2-er. Blake doesn’t have his first set though as Ernests the Swan has broken back and leads 6-5. Blake is such a talented player but never seems to win tournaments. The guy is No7 seed here and is worth his ranking but he always seems to freeze in Grand Slams or in the later stages of Masters Series tournaments.

11.43 am: Aha, I thought it would only be a matter of time and it was – Cibulkova breaks. Congrats to the Slovakian Piper Perabo (B-list American actress) lookalike. Serena meanwhile is 5-2 up. The 'ovic-es (Jelena Jank and Marina Erak) are still deucing by the way.

11.40 am: Dashing Dominika is serving the better of the two in that match but it’s still only 4-3 nevertheless. Marina the Kiwi is battling, 2-5 on her own serve and it’s been deucey for a good few points now. It really looks like JJ only has to come to the net though to win the point, which she proves to go advantage up. Marina does likewise on the next point behind a booming serve and it’s back to deuce. Fair play to the Kiwi, who must be enjoying the spotlight.

11.35 am: Other interesting matches on at the moment. Miraculous Milagros Sequera (Spanish pun there) is going with serve against Dominika “little she-onion” Cibulkova (which is apparently what the Slovakian No28 seed’s name means). She’s sweeter than that though – she must be a caramelized onion.

11.31 am: Blake’s coasting so let’s have a look at David HeadBandian, the Argentine No6 seed, against Jeremy Chardy, one of dozens of top-quality Frenchies here this year. Chardy beat Gil in the first round. It’s a battle of the headbands this one. Nalby and Chardy both have big elaborate tied-around jobs. And it’s with serve at the moment so we’ll come back to this one in due course.

11.28 am: Venus breaks straight back, coming to the net and dominating. And while we’re on the subject of Grand Slam winners breaking, Jelena Jankovic breaks Marina Erakovic to lead 3-2. (Just kidding, JJ hasn’t won a Slam. Yet. Matter of time – her first may come in the next few weeks…)

11.23 am: First challenge of the day. No Hawkeye here as we have enough dust to see where the ball landed. Venus challenges, the ump confirms the decision and that’s Venus’ fourth unforced error so far. And Sfar follows it up with a break!

11.22 am: Venus holds her opener but Selima the Tunisian holds her own (mainly thanks to Venus netting a wiiiiide open shot at the net) and it’s 1-1. Always nice for the underdog to get on the board early doors, and Erakovic has done even better than that – it’s 2-2 in that match, the last NZ service game won to love with an ace to finish it off. Sweet as...

11.16 am: Glad to see you’re all paying attention. Deliberate mistake of the day – Ferrer has never won a Grand Slam. He was runner-up in the Master’s Cup last year so I must have been thinking of that. Blake breaks to open the match.

11.11 am: JJ is first underway, electing to serve and holding quite comfortably. Oops, forgot to mention the weather so far – how remiss of me (it’s my wedding anniversary today so my mind was temporarily on other things, ie ordering flowers for my long-suffering wife who has to do without me every year on our anniversary since I’m up here blogging). So, the weather is overcast at the moment and I can’t promise there won’t be a drop of rain a little later. It’s muggy though – even at 8.30 when I was jogging (and alongside the river as well where it should be cooler) it was quite close and humid this morning. Tiring conditions out there today.

11.07 am: Keep posting your comments – they’re just starting to appear on the site now (that particular application always takes a while to warm up early doors).

11.06 am: Plenty of English-speaking interest out there – James Blake is on No1 warming up against the Latvian swan Ernests Gulbis (Gulbis apparently means swan). Read more about the Baltic prodigy right here.

11.05 am: Out comes Venus onto Chatrier to face Tunisia’s Selima Sfar (a lot of one-off nationalities today – NZ, TUN, we’ve got Horna from Peru later). Pablo Andujar from Spain is up on court four later – he was today’s breakfast partner in my hotel so we’ll support him later on.

11 am: Out comes Kiwi Marina Erakovic onto Lenglen, followed by Jelena Jankovic. What a moment for the girl from the land of the long flat vowel, sorry long white cloud…

10.55 am: What other gossip is there? Nuria Llagostera Vives reckons she doesn’t make enough money from tennis so has posed for a “gentlemen’s” magazine. A la Ashley Harkleroad who is soon to pose for Play boy. So there you go. Marion Bartoli meanwhile seems to be in a right state. Since Wimbledon where she made the final last year, she has been on a slippery slope results-wise. In an interview after her loss to Casey Dellacqua yesterday, she said that she’s felt lousy for the past five months, has no energy, even if she isn’t playing she can’t just relax or go out for a walk since she’s too stressed out. Poor girl. Does she need a break from tennis? (Some unkind souls might say that with the way her results have been going, she’s been taking a break from tennis all year…)

10.50 am: What are your tips for the day? Will Rafa be too tired after playing two days in a row? He’s up against Ratty Nicolas Devilder – he’s happy to be known as that as he is a self-confessed lower-end talent who makes up for it by gritty, never-give-up play.

10.25 am: Morning all, Drew here ready to regale you all day long and what a packed programme we have. 20 Grand Slam titles playing on Chatrier in the space of four games (12 for Federer, 6 for Venus, 2 for Amelie). And then Rafa and Maria on Lenglen, plus Alize and Gisela. What a day in store. Keep those comments coming in – we’ll be moderating and posting in a minute.

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