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News & Photos / Articles / News from the French, part VII

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Rafa at the media day
Gimme five!
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic bumped into each other at their respective practice sessions on Philippe Chatrier court on Friday morning. The world no.2 and no.3 gave each other a friendly handshake before "Fed" had a hit-out with fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka while Nole practised with Japan' Kei Nishikori. Lleyton Hewitt, Gilles Simon, Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova were also out on court, with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray expected later, with all eyes on the Scotsman to see whether he is still suffering the after-effects of the groin strain he picked up yesterday.

Mr and Mrs Sharapova
Recent Rome winner Maria Sharapova seems to be enjoying her tennis more than ever at the moment, no doubt due to the presence in her entourage of her fiancé, New Jersey Nets basketball pro Sasha Vujacic. She gave Roland Garros TV an exclusive video interview (which will appear soon on the site), and the Russian confirmed the persistent rumour, saying "Yes, we will be getting married soon".

Kids day
Famous French DJ Bob Sinclar will be the special guest at "Children's Day at Roland Garros" on Saturday 21 May. The DJ is going to transform himself into a musical designer of tennis matches specially for the occasion, which raises money each year for charity and features the tournament's top stars playing exhibition matches the day before the Sunday Start on the three show courts (Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and No.1) starting at midday. Bob Sinclar will be putting on a show from 3 - 5 pm featuring plenty of special guests, with all the money raised going to Yannick Noah's chosen charity "Fête le Mur", "Tennis en liberté" and also to the FFT's clubs where the money will be invested in educational, social and integration projects.

Sunday start
The tournament directors have announced that the bottom half of the men's drawn and the top half of the women's draw will begin on Sunday for the now traditional Sunday start which was inaugurated in 2007 and has been growing in stature ever since. The featured matches will include French fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the second year running, with the no.17 seed taking on Jan Hajek. Lleyton Hewitt will also play on Sunday (against Albert Montanes), and his fellow Aussie and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur will also feature, against elegant Czech lefty and fancied outsider Iveta Benesova.

Round the world
The women's qualifiers have thrown up a wide variety of different nationalities making it through to the first round proper. The 12 lucky winners include Britain's Heather Watson (the first female player from the UK to qualify in 28 years), USA's Sloane Stephens (who will soon be featuring in an interview on rolandgarros.com as well as players from New Zealand, Taipei, Italy, Greece, Belarus, Canada, two Germans and two more Americans. The 16 men's qualifiers come from 11 different nationalities, four of them coming from France and perhaps more to come should there be any lucky losers.

Media day: What they said
Richard Gasquet (facing Radek Stepanek in the first round): "It's one of the most difficult rounds in the tournament! Radek has a lot of talent and experience and he knows how to play at Grand Slams. I'll need to be at 100% if I'm going to get through. I'm full of confidence after (getting through to the semi-finals at) Rome, and I'm going to be coming forward, dictating the points and trying to keep my fatigue levels down. That's what I need to be working towards in the future - it's what (my coach) Ricardo is telling me. Sébastien Grosjean keeps telling me to enjoy myself and be relaxed, no pressure."

Rafael Nadal (facing John Isner in the first round): "Just to be back at this tournament is a really special feeling. You remember a lot of things from the past years, so in general I feel a little bit like home, with all the people who work here in the locker room, in the players' lobby. Probably this year the favourite is Djokovic, but even last year or three years ago when you told me 'you are the favourite', I didn't feel like this, because when you arrive at the tournament, every round is difficult. Every match, every time you go on court you can win and you can lose. That's part of the game. So thinking about winning the tournament before start of tournament is for me is too arrogant. »

Novak Djokovic (facing Thiemo De Bakker): "I say he (Rafa)'s the favourite. I don't feel unbeatable - nobody is unbeatable, even though I had an incredible run that keeps going. I was saying in the last couple of weeks that I'm really not trying to think about the run that I have, or I'm not trying to think about when this run will end, because that will mean that I'm thinking about losing."

Andy Murray (who will play qualifier Eric Prodon in the first round): "I made a decision not to play the exhibition and practice at 4 pm. I should be fine. I think it was maybe my body just saying to take it easy for a day or so because I have been working very hard. I'm looking forward to the start of the tournament. You've got to be very focused during the French especially, because one bad set or a couple of bad sets and you can get yourself fatigued or tired early in the tournament. So you need to be switched on right from the start."

Aravane Rezaï (who will face Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania): "I'm slowly fighting my way back after a really tough start to the season. It's all good life experience though - what I'm having to go through. I don't really want to talk about my private life - I have a family I love very much and a playing career to think about as well. My main aim is to focus on my tennis and enjoy myself out on court."

Doubles wild cards
The tournament directors have handed out the following wild cards for the doubles tournaments:
Men's doubles:
1. MANNARINO Adrian - PAIRE Benoit
2. CHARDY Jeremy - CLEMENT Arnaud
3. MONFILS Gael - OUANNA Josselin
5. HERBERT Pierre-Hugues - RENAVAND Nicolas
6. RUFIN Guillaume - SIDORENKO Alexandre
7. PATIENCE Olivier - PRODON Eric

Women's doubles:
1. CORNET Alizé - RAZZANO Virginie
2. COIN Julie - JOHANSSON Mathilde
3. PAVLOVIC Irena - THORPE Laura
4. GARCIA Caroline - VEDY Aurélie
7. LARRIERE Victoria - LIM Alizé

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