Federer Talks Up Mental Edge; Mens French Preview

Posted on May 27, 2006

Mary Pierce
officially pulled from the French draw with foot and groin injuries...The French Open has been rained out for an entire day only once in its history...From Christopher Clarey of the International Herald Tribune: "The year was 1995. Amelie Mauresmo, an unknown French 15-year-old with thick glasses and a fine one-handed backhand, entered the French Open qualifying tournament and managed to get through all three rounds, sobbing with joy after beating an American, Lindsay Lee-Waters, to make it into the main event. It looked like the beginning of something beautiful. Roland Garros stadium, after all, was the same leafy place where Mauresmo's childhood idol, Yannick Noah, had won the men's tournament in 1983, inspiring her to head into her yard and start imitating his strokes without a racket. This, after all, was the same place where Mauresmo had come to live and train as one of the most promising players in the highly structured French developmental system. But despite all the good omens and elemental connections, Mauresmo has never come close to a happy ending. In 12 appearances in the main draw of her national championship, she has yet to make it past the quarterfinals, or to demonstrate the same sort of versatile flair that she has demonstrated on other clay courts around the world."

Best headline Friday came from Tempo in Manilla, the Philippines: "Ho bags tennis title"...Tim Henman on his French Open chances: "The weather has been pretty wet here this week which has made the courts heavy and quite slow. Also we're using a Dunlop ball at Roland Garros this year which is a relatively big ball so that slows things down a touch. Hopefully some better, warmer weather will arrive for next week and the courts will speed up which should help my cause."...Serena Williams confirmed she will miss Wimbledon with her bum knee: "I want everyone to know that I will be back on the tennis court. I'm more excited than ever to resume my playing career as soon as my body is ready. These past months have been very frustrating for me personally as I have had to take this time off to fully mend from a chronic knee injury."...Peru's Luis "Me So" Horna, always a danger on the dirt, may miss the French after injuring his back over the weekend in Poertschach...Aravane Rezai is the first French woman to get through the French Open qualifying since 1997...A Frenchman has never failed to reach at least the third round at Roland Garros...From Andrew Bogush writing for RolandGarros.com in his French Open preview: "James Blake will also have to work hard to see the second round thanks to an opening round date with Paradorn Srichaphan. The 8th seed should be able to take care of the enigmatic Thai, though. Srichaphan lost in the first round in all five clay court events he contested this spring." -- Nice contradiction, do your homework to find that Paradorn sucks year in and year out on clay...Name the last U.S. player in the current draw to reach the third round at Roland Garros?...Ted Schroeder, who won Wimbledon and the US Open in the 1940s, died Friday at age 84...The 'Ugly American' Greg Garber writing for ESPN: "(Roger) Federer, believed by a number of astute tennis observers to be the most gifted player ever, is 38-0 this year against the rest of the world's professional players. He is 0-3 against (Rafael) Nadal -- who was 11 years old when Federer played his first ATP match in 1998. Federer has been ranked No. 1 in the world for 27 consecutive months. Nadal has been No. 2 since July. They led the ATP with 11 tournament victories apiece a year ago and are again ahead with four each this year. No else one is even close to their level. For the record, Nadal has won five of six matches against Federer, three of them on clay, which is Nadal's best surface and Federer's worst. If Nadal and Federer do not reach the June 11 final at Roland Garros -- on the grand stage that is Court Philippe Chatrier -- the tennis world will be tremendously disappointed."...ESPN's Mary Carillo on Roger Federer trying to close the Rafael Nadal gap: "I believe Roger when he says he's getting a better sense of Nadal's game, but there's got to be a part of Roger that's worried. These are important losses, and they've come with him holding match points. He's had some problems closing -- there's no denying that. Clearly, that's something to watch for."...From The Australian: "The coach of the Iraq tennis team and two players have been shot dead by armed gunmen in Baghdad, the Iraqi Olympic Committee chief said today. According to eye witnesses, the three men were killed because they were wearing shorts. "Armed men assassinated the trainer, Ahmed Rachid, and two players, Nasser Ali Hatem and Wissam Adel Odah on Thursday afternoon in the Saidiya district (of Baghdad)," committee secretary-general Amer Jabbar said. Witnesses said that a Sunni militant group issued a warning a few days before the attack, forbidding the wearing of shorts."...Rafael Nadal on accusations from Roger Federer that he is being coached from the stands by his Uncle Toni: "If my uncle didn't receive a warning in Rome, it must be because he was abiding by the rules. If my uncle was truly giving me coaching tips, he would have gotten a warning. All he was doing was spurring me on, saying, 'Vamos!' [Let's go!] 'Venga!' [Come on!] 'Con fuerza!' [Go for it!]. Explain to me: What kind of rule is this that coaches can't say anything during a match? In what other sport does that happen? I mean, you are paying your coach and taking him to Australia to have him do this during the matches?"...Roger Federer says that instead of Rafael Nadal being in his head, he is actually mentally gaining on the Spaniard: "I know I can wait for the day when I beat Nadal. I've surprised myself how much I've improved since Dubai, as when I played him in Monte Carlo and in Rome. I always felt that I played a bit better. It's also important for me to know, going into the French Open, that I can cope with such a weird-playing leftie. With the lead that I have in the rankings, Nadal must expect that on any given day I can beat him. That's definitely my advantage, that over the years I've created this confidence in myself, that no matter how badly a guy beats me up I know that I can come back. I've sent out a message in the last couple of matches. I really feel that I should have won that match in Rome. And I like to be challenged. It keeps me ready."...SI.com blogger Justin Gimelstob says he is taking a life-is-great attitude in regard to his upcoming ass-kicking at the French: "I was practicing on Court 3 at Roland Garros on Friday morning, getting my butt kicked by Russian Max Mirnyi, when I took a deep breath and a long look around. Considering how poor my shots were and how badly I was getting beaten in our practice match -- this with the French Open just a few days away -- you'd think my mind would be consumed with one of many relevant dilemmas. But instead of getting frustrated with my less-than-satisfying performance, I found pleasure in the beautiful surroundings. The beautifully maintained red clay courts, which the grounds crew meticulously waters and sweeps with unmatched efficiency, and the lush grounds, filled with flowers in perfect bloom and statues of former tennis greats, are part of what give the French Open its artistic identity." -- When did the "outspoken tennis pro" go soft and become a student of the Zen of Losing?...Andy Roddick blogging on his website: "Ok so the ankle first. I sprained two of the three ligaments in my left ankle. Fortunately, neither one is terrible. I woke up this morning and my range of motion was better so that is encouraging for next week. I won't know my status for the French Open for a couple more days. I have eaten schnitzel everyday since I have been here (in dusseldorf). for those who don't know it is basically breaded veal...pretty tasty, but I am convinced it is just the German version of fried chicken haha."...From tennis writer Charlie Bricker: "Paul Goldstein, 29, of San Francisco, at No. 58 and having his best year since 2000, has a pulled right calf muscle and is only 50-50 to play."...From Tom Perrotta writing for the New York Sun: "How uncertain are things in women's tennis? At this year's French Open, which begins Sunday, the women have a rare opportunity. The eight major tournaments dating back to the French Open of 2004 have crowned eight different champions, including five first-time winners. The streak is the longest in the Open Era, which began in 1968, and one shy of the all-time record, last achieved in 1939."...Roger Federer is 4-3 in finals in 2006, reaching the final in all seven of his events, and losing all three finals to Rafael Nadal...From The Telegraph: "Family dominate the Nadal story. (Rafael) Nadal has been coached by uncle Toni for as long as anyone in Majorca can remember. Nadal was bought his first racket when he was four, and then, aged eight, he won a regional competition for under-12s, and later chose tennis over football. Toni, a reasonable player from the Eighties, was behind arguably the most important change in his nephew's game by converting him from a natural right-hander to playing with his weaker left hand."

Also see:
Tennis-X Mens French Open Preview