The French Open in quotes (C/P)
The French Open in Quotes
The pre-tournament preparations
The favourites were working hard on the practice courts, hoping to see their efforts pay off once the matches started.
“After eating so much meat from the neck, the time is coming to eat the dessert.”
-- Larri Passos, coach of Gustavo Kuerten
And those less familiar with the unique footwork required on clay were struggling to master the slide.
"There's definitely an art to it. You see players like Moya and Ferrero who grew up on the surface, and they're so natural on it. I still do that American slide -- slide, hit the ball, slide a little more and then almost lose my balance."
-- James Blake
The future is ever a misted landscape...
Players moonlighted as prognosticators, with greater and lesser degrees of success.
“The winner of Roland Garros will definitely be a Spanish speaker - or a Portuguese speaker.”
-- Carlos Moya -- right!
"The way I'm playing, if I stay confident and hit the ball exactly how I like to, I don't see any problems in beating Maggie."
-- Alicia Molik (who went on to lose to 15th-seeded veteran Maggie Maleeva, 6-3 3-6 6-1) -- wrong!
"Probably the next round he'll go."
-- Lleyton Hewitt, commenting on the prospects of his executioner Tommy Robredo (who went on to defeat Gustavo Kuerten and reach the quarterfinals) -- wrong!
Should we call it quits?
Early round defeats prompted retirement musings from the veteran victims.
“I will take a break and have more treatment and see what happens. If it doesn't react well then I will just have to stop."
-- Monica Seles, first round loser
"I'm going back home. I need to rest and think about what I want now in my life."
-- Alex Corretja, first round loser
“It's just that I might not be back again next year, that is as simple as that.”
-- Yevgeny Kafelnikov, second round loser
"I always said that the day that I woke up and found it difficult to get out of bed to train, I would stop."
-- former Roland Garros semifinalist Fernando Meligeni, who actually did retire in Paris
"In my 16-year career, I only cried twice and both times were on this court."
-- former Roland Garros champion Michael Chang says an emotive goodbye to Roland Garros
Fight fight fight!
In order to thrive, it helped to be, well, “fighty”.
“I have always been fighty, that is something you are just born with, I don't know where it comes from for me”
-- Ashley Harkleroad (after her 7-6 (7/2) 4-6 9-7 upset of Daniela Hantuchova)
Other young prodigies had to defend their perceived lack of “fightiness“..
“For sure, I can’t say I have the same fighting spirit as him. He is much better than me in that department. But it would be unfair to say I don’t have any. If that was true I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
-- Richard Gasquet after his first round loss, when asked to compare his fighting spirit to that of his adolescent rival from Spain, Rafael Nadal.
A defending champion left no doubt about his “fightiness” after four arduous five-set marathon wins, reaching the semis in a proud attempt to defend his title.
“It's a very special match, because it was fighting all the time and trying and trying and trying.”
-- Albert Costa, after his third round win over Nicolas Lapentti
To fight, perchance to die?
“I had never been beyond the third round before in this tournament and I didn't want to miss out again this time. I was willing to die on the court.”
-- Arnaud Clément
Players just wanna have fun
It’s not just about fighting. It’s also about enjoying the moment, win or lose.
"I don't mind that I lost. I was moving well out there and having fun."
-- Paradorn Srichaphan, a first round loser
“The crowd was really unbelievable. It was so exciting; everything was perfect, except I lost.”
-- Mario Ancic, after narrowly failing to topple Andre Agassi in the second round
To have fun, it helps to be young.
“I just remember when I was in the same position she's in, starting to be on tour. I was having a lot of fun. She's probably having a lot of fun, always looking forward to the big match, playing the No. 1 players in the world.”
-- Venus Williams, a 22-year-old geezer, reflecting on the fun that her 18-year-old executioner Vera Zvonareva might be having
But even the geezers can enjoy themselves on occasion.
“I feel that I can still play good tennis and move out there and sometimes enjoy it. So it's a good deal.”
-- 31-year-old quarterfinalist Conchita Martínez
The head is an important factor in tennis:
“It‘s all between the ears, man.”
-- Andy Roddick, after his first round loss to Sargis Sargsian
But this didn‘t stop one player from whacking his head with his racket.
"If I break the racket I'm going to have to pay for it, so why not just hit my head? That doesn't cost anything,"
-- Younes El Aynaoui
The Parisian crowd
Serena Williams enjoyed silencing the crowd in her quarterfinal win over local favourite Amélie Mauresmo:
Q. Is it more satisfying to you to be swept along with the crowd behind you to victory or to extinguish a crowd when it's behind your opponent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely more fun to extinguish them.
But a weeping Williams found the hostile crowd during her semifinal loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne to be much less fun.
"I think it's bad when people start booing between serves and others are egging them on by doing ridiculous things."
-- Serena Williams
The losing finalists were both blown out, failing to bring their "A games" to the big occasion.
“My serve was not going well today. Forty-seven per cent, that's not good enough. My length of shot wasn't good enough, my volleys weren't good enough.”
-- Martin Verkerk
“I think so far in this tournament I haven't played my best tennis. And I haven't come close to what I'm capable of doing.”
-- Kim Clijsters
And coincidentally, the winners were inspired by the memories of their deceased mothers.
“When I woke up this morning, I said, 'You'll have to win, you'll have to do it for your mom.'”
-- Justine Henin-Hardenne
“She was there in the front row today.”
-- Juan Carlos Ferrero
Wimbledon begins in just two weeks!
“I win Wimbledon, no?”
-- Juan Carlos Ferrero