Tennis Prose



Roland Garros Observations So Far

By Scoop Malinowski

Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a brutal four setter vs 25 year old qualifier Zdenek Kolar, ranked 134 in the world with a career 1-1 ATP match record (he’s a Challenger lifer so far).

The striking aspect of this match was how much heart and soul and passion and intensity Kolar exhibited vs Tsitsipas while trying to win his second Grand Slam match – he had previously failed to qualify a reported 16 times for Grand Slam main draws before this Roland Garros.

Compared to the flat, dead efforts by Corentin Moutet and Jordan Thompson vs Rafael Nadal, it was refreshing to see a tennis “Rocky Balboa” laying it all on the line and trying to change his career with one match. Thompson and Moutet and so many others almost seem to roll over for Rafa in Paris, as if they know they are not allowed to win so they play accordingly.

But Kolar fought his heart out and pushed the Greek to his limits 36 67 76 67, grunting, double grunting, you could see the Czech Republic veteran, with career earnings under $600,000, was playing with a mindset like his life and career were on the line – an admirable trait we rarely see when Federer and Nadal play unknowns.

Tsitsipas was certainly impressed: “He drove me crazy. It was really frustrating. He was putting every part of his body behind the ball… It was an incredible effort.”

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko lost a marathon vs another WTA drama queen Alize Cornet and after the loss and before the net handshake, Ostapenko covered her ears with her fingertips so as to not have to listen to the euphoric cheers for the French veteran. A funny gesture I have never seen before.

Sebastian Baez blew two match points vs. Alex Zverev and then was arrested in Paris for allegedly assaulting a taxi driver who refused to drive five passengers instead of the legal four. I talked with Baez at Miami Open this year where he reached the semifinal and he seemed like a choir boy type, so this violent episode is hard to believe.

Diego Schwartzman just annihilated Grigor Dimitrov 63 61 62, an opponent he recently lost to in Madrid 60 63. Dimitrov had beaten the Argentine three times in a row today after losing their first meeting in the Istanbul final 2016. Schwartzman will meet top seed Novak Djokovic in the fourth round if Djokovic can beat Aljaz Bedene, who he’s already beaten three times and never lost a set to the 32 year old ranked 195.

Did you notice Nadal is wearing the Aussie colors green and gold Nike kit, which you have to wonder if it’s a Nike ploy to remind Djokovic of his traumatic ordeal in Melbourne in January. I mention this because it reminds me of the outfit Steffi Graf wore at the first tournament she played with Monica Seles after Seles was stabbed in Hamburg, Germany. That first tournament was the US Open 1995 and for that Grand Slam final showdown with Seles, Graf wore a white adidas skirt and collared polo shirt with a tasteless abstract red stain of artwork on the collar which extended down the front of the shirt. The shirt’s design looked exactly how a shirt would look if a player was stabbed in the back by a hired patsy assassin, as Don Budge speculated he believed the stabbing may have been an inside job. Poor taste by adidas back then and Nike now to try to mind game Djokovic in such a tasteless manner, however the gamesmanship adds a layer of intrigue and curiosity to the QF showdown if Rafa and Djokovic can both get there.

“There are no coincidences.”

In a tennis first, coach Patrick Mouratoglou publicly criticized himself for Simona Halep’s three set loss to Quinwen Zheng, blaming himself for not doing a good enough job and vowing to do better. Zheng looks like a future Grand Slam champ, the first for China since Li Na.

Iga Swiatek has won 30 matches in a row and is ripping through the WTA draws like Seles and Graf used to, scoring blowout two set scorelines. Swiatek very well may become the most dominant WTA player since Serena or Steffi.

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  • catherine · May 27, 2022 at 10:24 am

    Mouratoglou’s tweet was rather strange. Certainly I’ve never seen anything like that from any other coach. Is Patrick nervous about his job ?

    Also, has anyone seen Simona’s husband ? If he’s in Paris he’s not been very visible. I haven’t thought Simona 100% this year. She did mention she’d considered retirement and then changed her mind.

    Swiatek is good at maths. In Paris she went to visit Versailles because she admires the classical French style, logic and mathematical perfection.

    Radunescu is also good at maths. In New York she visited the NYSE. She’s interested in the application of maths to money.

    Iga’s talked about chasing ‘perfection’ on court. I don’t think this would bother Emma. Just results.

  • catherine · May 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Re Swiatek and her approach – this is her actual comment:

    “I am pretty happy, I think this is my first match on Suzanne Lenglen so thank you for having me here. Being focused and wanting to put pressure on my pressure is really helpful. You have to get in the zone, I am still not an expert. I will work on everything as I am a perfectionist. [on Versailles] That was the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my life. Everything was so symmetrical. I really love maths and everything was symmetrical.”

    Can her liking for perfection, maths and symmetry be found in her playing style ?

    A new approach to tennis analysis 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 27, 2022 at 11:02 am

    Catherine, Halep’s husband might be a PR stunt or some kind of business deal, like Seles and the old tycoon she supposedly married, but you never seem thenm together. Mouratoglou is a PR genius, he lost early at RG and still managed to get positive PR about it, with this apology and promise to work harder. The man is a PR mastermind, could work as a publicist or teach PR in college if tennis does not pan out.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 27, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Catherine, Iga is well spoken, says all the right things so it’s a surprise all the big sponsors are not busting her doors down like they did for Osaka and do for Raducanu. Everytime you look, there’s a new magazine spread on Emma or a new sponsor with her modeling or promoting. It looks like Iga is being left on the dance floor by corporate sponsors. Rolex, Porsche, Morgan Stanley, Gatorade, etc all snubbing the world’s best player but throwing gold at Emma, Leylah and Osaka. Maybe Iga has the wrong skin color or something.

  • catherine · May 27, 2022 at 11:18 am

    Iga is getting sponsors, but a lot are in Poland and/or aimed at Polish speaking market so we don’t see them. She’s going to end up with the numbers though.

    BTW – I don’t remember if I posted this link. It’s about Emma and her army of haters. What Barney says is absolutely true.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 27, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Yes Catherine, but she should be a global superstar for what she’s doing in the sport now. She’s a dominant superstar and may grow even stronger and more dominant. It does not make sense the corporate establishment is snubbing Iga while flocking to Emma, Osaka, Leylah. Iga is just as pretty, charming, well spoken, clean image as anyone in the WTA. It’s possible there is an anti white bias in play. The same thing which Kenin unfortunately suffered.

  • catherine · May 27, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    No antiwhite bias over here, Scoop. Some of Emma’s anti-fans see coddled upbringing, spoilt, over-exposed etc etc. But race doesn’t come into it. Maybe a streak of meanness/envy in British sports fans, and a bit of misogyny as well. Also class – Emma is clearly an upper-middle class person educated at a superior school. Her accent places her.

    It’s possible Iga doesn’t publicise her financial affairs – she’s entitled to do that. Also glossy mags are published all over Europe – Vogue Poland, Elle, Grazia, a whole lot. Iga will be in those. She’s not starving. I also suspect she’s choosy about her endorsements – she’s a bright girl.

    Heaven knows why Emma triggers such strong reactions. Tennis fans squawk and moan that we have no players and then one comes along and she gets trashed. You’d think she goes around stealing babies from prams instead of showing some promise as tennis player.

    I give up. BTW the ELLE cover story on her was amusing and very human.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 27, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    Catherine, I don’t have any feel or sense of how UK fans feel about Raducanu, and so what you say sounds absurd that she is not held in high regard for the miracle she pulled off at US Open. Tennis fans and media can be very silly.

  • Bill McGill · May 27, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    The art on this post is my all-time favorite RG poster and I have an original framed in my office.

    I think there is zero chance that Nadal’s outfit has anything to do with anything other than what Nike hopes to sell and was able to get manufactured in China despite supply-chain disruptions.

    I think your Graf-Seles comment is humorous and entertaining…but borderline insane if serious.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 27, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    Bill, it’s one of the best tennis works of art I ever saw, arresting image which I had to save and find a way to share here. unforgettable image. I don’t believe in coincidences Bill, of all the colors to wear in the next Grand Slam… If you look at the Graf shirt with the blood red abstract collar dripping down the front of the shirt, there is no possible way on earth that was a coincidence. She shirt looked like someone had been stabbed and it looked like blood stains. I’m not saying the shirt spooked Seles but who can say for sure about her subconscious? But that bad line call in the first set tiebreaker set point Seles sure did. She lost the set then bageled Steffi in the second. Steffi Germany definitely had the establishment preference over Seles Yugoslovia IMO.

  • catherine · May 28, 2022 at 2:52 am

    Scoop – there’ve been a couple of articles in the British press about the puzzling toxicity of reactions to Raducanu. Recent headline from the Guardian sports sums it up:
    ‘Let the summer of Emma Raducanu commence and the hate will surely follow’.

    Basically I see it as an internet thing. Anonymous keyboard warriors, not always tennis fans, feel Emma has an obligation to them. Don’t ask me why. The class thing is also important. Not something you’d find in the US but really matters here.

    Emma has said she doesn’t read online comments, just personal messages.
    Good decision.

    She should be left to make her own way – wherever that leads her.

  • catherine · May 28, 2022 at 5:24 am

    Just a PS on Raducanu. Someone posted BTL on Leylah’s match v Bencic in the Guardian yesterday and by the second line the Leylah comment had turned into another attack on Emma 🙂

    This was about coaching. A number of fans seem fixated on Emma’s turnover of coaches, so far as to take it personally.
    They don’t display much knowledge of how tennis coaching works or what Emma’s set up was at the USO. Perhaps they’re frustrated coaches themselves and have fantasies about joining Emma’s team and turning her game around, thus getting up close to their (secret) heroine…..

  • Sam · May 28, 2022 at 5:49 am

    Scoop, what do you think about Toni Nadal apparently saying, “I’ve already told Felix that I’m not going to give him advice on how to beat my nephew”? 🤡

    If I were Felix, I’d kick him to the curb so fast! 🥾

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 28, 2022 at 8:29 am

    Catherine, I don’t understand what Raducanu has done to provoke any negativity, so what if she flips coaches or she has attracted millions from sponsors, she is the biggest superstar in the wta right now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 28, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Sam, quote reflects badly on Toni, shows he’s a double agent and his real loyalties are still with and always were with his nephew. Felix should have set the rules straight, if I pay you, forget about Rafa, you work for me and me only. Felix again proving he’s too nice and not the sharpest player. Very curious to see his effort level vs Rafa and if he rolls over or tries to kick his a55 and send strong message to Toni. I think he’s going to roll over, hope I’m wrong and he plays lights out as he did vs Novak in Rome.

  • catherine · May 28, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Let Leylah have the last word(s):

    “When we do see each other crossing the halls, practice courts, we always like smile at each other, because we both know what we did was incredible.”

    – Leylah Fernandez on Emma Raducanu, and that 2021 US Open.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 28, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Not friends though )

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 28, 2022 at 11:39 am

    So a little 3 yr old girl manages to get on Chatrier court and get close to Nadal. Where was security? If I were Djokovic I would make sure to have tight security at every moment at Roland Garros because it may be too easy for the deep state of tennis to send a knife wielding maniac patsy like Gunther Parche to do something terrible, like what happened to Seles in Hamburg.

  • MATT SEGEL · May 31, 2022 at 8:23 am

    On Iga, of course ‘woke’ corporations will hesitate entering relationships with ‘non-marginalized’ athletes preferring rather to raise up the voices and profiles of BIPOC’s…the road to hell is truly paved with good intentions.

    On Emma, I think that people want their tennis idols to be tennis player first and fashion and socialite superstars second. Being what society feels is super attractive can be detrimental for an athlete. It’s the curse of being a super model. I think the beautiful women can particularly fall victim, but maybe Zverev has as well. Partying, galas, photoshoots can all take away motivation a little bit, since they are making more money from that than from the sport. People can then envious about people who are famous for their appearance, and it’s then a toxic spiral.

    I did not know the Steffi Graf story…that’s ain’t right

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 31, 2022 at 8:39 am

    Matt, Emma also has to deal with every opponent is extra motivated to beat the US Open princess and put lil miss britches in her proper place. The fame and fortune and glamour girl modeling jobs only adds to the extra incentive. But she is tough and strong and could overcome this challenge too. Pressure is a privilege, the old Billie Jean King cliche, but is privilege a pressure?



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