Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 7 hrs ago
PARIS – The junior events will be getting under way shortly at Roland Garros, a happening you don't need a press release to figure out.
The sudden invasion of professional-looking tennis players dressed to the nines in Nike or adidas who look just like the real thing – except in miniature, many with braces – began Friday and on Saturday, they were practicing wherever there was a court available.
There will be three Canadian girls in the junior singles, led by No. 6 seed Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Blainville, Quebec.
Joining her will be Toronto's Katherine Sebov, who has been working lately with former world No. 3 (and former Genie Bouchard and Aleksandra Wozniak coach) Nathalie Tauziat.
Bianca Andreescu, who is just 14, won two rounds in the qualifying to also reach the main draw.
Andreescu drew the No. 16 seed, Anna Kalinskaya of Russia. Robillard-Millette will play Monika Kilnarova of the Czech Republic, and Sebov drew Eva Guerrero Alvarez of Spain.
As has often been the case in recent years, the Canadian presence on the boys' side is slim.
Only one of the four, Robillard-Millette, is part of the national training centre program in Montreal.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 22 hrs ago
PARIS – After setting the junior tennis world on fire in his final year at that level, Vancouver's Filip Peliwo is finding the transition to the professional ranks to be quite a roller-coaster ride.
But right now, life's pretty good. The 21-year-old has been spending lots of time at Roland Garros, practicing with French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
He warmed him up at noon Friday, hours before Tsonga's straight-sets win over Pablo Andujar later on Court Philippe Chatrier.
So far, so great. Tsonga is through three rounds, although his next opponent, No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych, is by far his toughest challenge yet.
Peliwo, whose ATP Tour ranking got as high as No. 223 just over a year ago, has dropped significantly since then. He currently stands at No. 462, which means he struggles to be eligible to play in events higher than the entry-level Futures tournaments he thought he'd be long done with by now.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 1 day ago
PARIS – It wasn't very long ago that there was no Genie Bouchard, no Milos Raonic.
Back then (we're talking three years ago, at most) the Canadian tennis scene at a Grand Slam went sort of like this: plenty of aspirants in the singles qualifying, a few here and there who made it through. Then some early exits - with the occasional good effort by Aleksandra Wozniak.
And then, it was Daniel Nestor time until the final Sunday.
We may have started to take the efforts by Bouchard and Raonic a little for granted, because in this exceptional year in Paris with Raonic on the shelf and Bouchard already out, it's sort of a "retro" Roland Garros - which isn't necessarily a great thing.
In other words, it's Daniel Nestor time again. The only difference is that those lean singles years were Nestor's Slam-winning years. At 42, he may still have a couple of big titles in him, but he's not coming into this year's French Open with a lot of wins, nor a whole lot of confidence.
As it happened, Herbert and Mahut were the finalists in Australia this year.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 1 day ago
PARIS – Eugenie Bouchard was sitting in an interview room early Thursday evening at Roland Garros, talking about a lost tennis match.
And she was smiling.
The scene was remarkably different than just two days before, when she faced a sea of mostly unfamiliar faces in a massive press conference, trying to find answers for her first-round loss to Kristina Mladenovic.
This time, she was in tiny Room 4 - a room that, given the severe slope on the back wall, is probably nestled right underneath the stands on Court Philippe Chatrier. There were only a few journalists, most of the faces at least vaguely familiar. And the match she lost was her first-round mixed doubles match with Max Mirnyi of Belarus against the No. 2 seeds, Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan.
With Mirnyi's longtime nickname being "The Beast", the potential headlines there were far too easy to write - if you know what we mean.
Bouchard's answer spoke to that.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 2 days ago
PARIS – The last time Canadian Vasek Pospisil and American partner Jack Sock were on the court three weeks ago, Pospisil jumped for a backhand, came down squarely on Sock's foot, and sprained his ankle badly enough that he barely made it back in time for the French Open.
They very well could have been out in the first round, too, against the little-known but game pair of Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic and Joao Souza of Brazil.
Pospisock, as they've come to be known, survived, winning 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (4) after they were very nearly down 0-4 in the third set.
The Can-American pair found themselves down 0-3, love-40 and all that increasingly emblematic energy was completely absent. Sock, the loose one of the two, the one who keeps Pospisil laughing and keeps up a stream of entertaining play-by-play during a match, was silent – as was his howitzer forehand.
Pospisil grimaced a few times on the ankle, but he looked a lot more comfortable than he did in his first-round singles match against Joao Sousa (with an "S", the Portuguese Joao).
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 2 days ago
PARIS – It seems as though it’s one thing after another for Vasek Pospisil, the likeable Canadian player who already has a Wimbledon doubles title under his belt.
The biggest question you get asked about him is about why he always seems to be injured. At 6-foot-4, solidly built with legs like tree trunks, he doesn’t look like the injury-prone type.
It isn’t, in fact, a fair question. Some of Pospisil’s woes have been plain bad luck; certainly the severe ankle sprain he suffered less than three weeks ago in Madrid, the one that compromised his singles effort at the French Open (he's still in the men's doubles), was a freak occurrence.
The back woes Pospisil suffered last year aren’t all that unusual in tennis, which seems littered these days with long-term injuries of all kinds. The number of “protected ranking” players in the men’s singles draw was significant – and it didn’t even include Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, both former top-10 players dealing with long-term injuries who ended up not being able to make their date in Paris.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 4 days ago
PARIS – The whole match seemed to go by in a flash - and yet it seemed like an eternity before 22-year-old Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic succeeding in serving it out – on her third attempt.
The 6-4, 6-4 loss sent 2014 French Open semi-finalist Genie Bouchard packing in the first round, as the 21-year-old Canadian's worst-case scenario came true on a gloomy evening in Paris that undoubtedly matched her current state of mind.
Adding insult to injury, Mladenovic is a big-serving, big-hitting, shotmaker. And yet, she basically defeated Bouchard with ... her drop shot. During one stretch, she went 7-for-7 with it.
Bouchard probably wasn't aware of this, but her post-match press conference was broadcast live across the country, in both official languages. Never in recent memory has she seemed so lost, so shell-shocked, really. In a way, she has rarely appeared more sympathetic, more human.
The mask of false bravado she has worn for most of the 2015 season was gone; Bouchard didn't even try to put any kind of positive spin on a decisive defeat that was at once surprising, yet hardly surprising at all.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 4 days ago
PARIS – Daniel Nestor, 42 years old and on tour for more than 20 years, has played a lot of tennis matches.
But he remembers this one pretty well, even though it was 19 years ago.
Just 23 and still a few years away from his best singles efforts – and long before he turned exclusively to doubles – Nestor was playing Frenchman Thierry Guardiola in the second round of the French Open singles qualifying in 1996, after having beaten a player named Claude n'Goran from Adzopé, Cote d'Ivoire, in the first round.
He pulled it out – 4-6, 6-3, 22-20.
That total of 51 games stood as a high-water mark in French Open qualifying, where there is no third-set tiebreaker in any round, ever since.
Until Thursday, when Andrea Arnoboldi of Italy and Pierre-Hughes Herbert went about 4 1/2 hours – spread over two days. Arnoboldi won 6-4, 3-6, 27-25, playing 52 games in the third set alone. Their match was halted after three hours and six minutes for darkness Wednesday evening at 15-15 in the third set.
It was pretty crazy stuff. Here's how it looked on the second day.
Nestor's match was all in one day.
Nestor lost, 6-4, 6-2.
Yes, he said.
Stephanie Myles at Eh Game 5 days ago
PARIS – At the appointed hour of 3 p.m., interested parties trooped over to Court 12, in the back part of the complex right behind Court Suzanne Lenglen, a practice court that has barriers so the fans can't completely surround it. The same court she practiced on Sunday.
No Genie Bouchard. Not even for a nano-second.
It turned out Bouchard practiced at an alternate site earlier in the day (sometimes, this is top-secret information; other times, it's fairly easy to find out) and was already back at her hotel by then. Meanwhile, Vasek Pospisil may have done the same; he didn't have any practices scheduled on site Monday.
There's probably no hidden message of concern with these developments; players regularly book practice courts and fail to show. Sometimes top players with injury concerns choose to practice in private, but in that case they don't book courts. Bouchard certainly has looked healthy in her practices, although she hasn't played particularly well.
Meanwhile, let's flash back to Bouchard from Sunday's practice, where we noted the presence of a couple of fellows.
Even the Wimbledon traditionalist Roger Federer thinks they've gone too far with the all-white thingStephanie Myles at Eh Game 6 days ago
PARIS – For this French Open, Roger Federer is lit up like a My Little Pony Christmas tree.
Candy colours, to some. The only two hues little girls’ clothes come in, to others. The WTA Tour logo colours, to others still.
But in a few weeks, when the seven-time champion hits the lawns of the All-England Club, he knows the party will be over.
And, in discussing fashion in the city that’s famous for it Sunday, Federer couldn’t resist getting in a dig at the overzealousness of the tournament’s “all-white” rule in recent years.
“Obviously it's going to change when Wimbledon comes around because rules have become ridiculously strict over there, and I love Wimbledon, but they have gone too far now,” Federer said after his first-round win over Alejandro Falla of Colombia. “No colour anymore basically. So it's rough there. That's why let's enjoy the color while we can.”
The omnipotent committee told the Swiss maestro that he had to change his shoes, simple as that. No argument. Now, Nike probably knew this might happen, so they got great traction (pardon the pun) out of that one-off appearance.