Finally some live tennis! My first live tournament of the year!

My first memories of Roland Garros are from the early 80’s, watching Lendl, Wilander, Navratilova, and Evert battle on one of the 3 French TV channels. And of course like every French people, I remember Noah’s historic win over Wilander in 1983, his overwhelming joy and his run to embrace his father.
Leconte booed during the trophy presentation in 1988, Edberg heartbreaking defeat against Chang in 1989, Agassi flashy outfits, Graf-Seles breathtaking final in 1992, Guga samba tennis in 1997… Time flies.

May 2004: my first trip to Roland Garros. Agassi, Safin, Ferrero, the Williams sisters, I finally got to see some of the best tennis players I had watched for years on TV.

Marat Safin, 2004:

Marat Safin, Peter Lundgren

Marat Safin

Fabrice Santoro and Peter Lundgren, 2004:

Peter Lundgren, Fabrice Santoro

Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2004:

Juan Carlos Ferrero

From then I was hooked, and Roland Garros 2004 was the first of many tournaments I’ve attended over the years: the US Open, the Queen’s, Bercy, the Lagardère Trophy, the Optima Open, the Open GDF Suez and of course Roland Garros (in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Roger Federer, 2006:

Roger Federer

Ilie Nastase, 2007:

Ilie Nastase

Novak Djokovic, 2008:

Novak Djokovic

Court Philippe Chatrier, 2010:

Court Philippe Chatrier

Rafael Nadal, 2011:

Rafael Nadal

Maria Sharapova, 2012:

Maria Sharapova

The excitement of the first tournaments slowly let place to a kind of “been there, done that” feeling, but there’s
nothing like watching a sporting event courtside. Not only can you see and hear everything as it happens, but you also really feel part of the event. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of all those fancy TV replays and close-ups but you avoid annoying commentary.
One of the best thing is court-hopping. Wandering around the grounds with a simple 24€ pass, you get to see as much or as little of the event as you want: watch Sharapova practicing on court 12, Hewitt playing on court 7 or a Goerges-Stosur doubles match on court 16.

I’ll be onsite the first week, covering the tournament for Tennis Buzz but also guest posting for Grand Slam Gal.

The last Masters 1000 of the season, the BNP Paris Masters starts in about a week. I got the chance to attend the tournament in 2010 and 2011 and I’ll be there again this year, so stay tuned for recaps, pics and videos!

Waiting for the 2012 tournament, here are a few pics and videos of the 2010 tournament won by Robin Soderling.

Robin Soderling

The hard-hitting Swede defeated Simon, Wawrinka, Roddick, Llodra and Monfils to capture his first Masters 1000 title, his sixth career title.

“I don’t have a very good record in finals, and especially here in Paris, but I think a final is that one match you really want to win. I’m really happy that I played well today, and now I’m here winning the title. When I won that last point, I just felt so happy and I felt so relieved. I really wanted to win this match so much.”

Following his win, he reached a career high number 4 ranking.

Soderling has not competed since the 2011 Swedish Open in July 2011 due to injuries and illness and his return to tennis is in doubt.

Robin Soderling

Robin Soderling and Andy Roddick

Gael Monfils

2009 runner-up Gael Monfils qualified for the semifinals after victories over Becker, Verdasco and Murray. He then beat Roger Federer in a three set thriller 7-6 6-7 7-6, but Soderling proved too strong in the final.
Monfils, who was sidelined for several months this year with knee problems, has decided to end his season and won’t play the tournament this year.

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Michael Llodra

Llodra, then ranked 34, beat two former Bercy champions, Djokovic and Davydenko, to reach the semifinals in Bercy.
And he was just one point away from the final: he got 3 match points in the 12th game of the final set, but Soderling raced to the net each time for winners.

Michael Llodra

Michael Llodra

Novak Djokovic

Winner in 2009, Djokovic lost to Michael Llodra in the third round of the 2010 tournament. One month later he lead Serbia to their first Davis Cup victory.

Novak Djokovic

Nikolay Davydenko

Davydenko won his first Masters 1000 title at Paris Bercy 2006 by defeating Dominik Hrbaty in the final. In 2010, he defeated Thomaz Bellucci and Tomas Berdych before losing to Michael Llodra.

Nikolay Davydenko

Nikolay Davydenko

Andy Roddick

Despite his powerful weapons, his serve and forehand, Roddick has never done well at Paris Bercy. In 2010, he lost to Robin Soderling in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

In the stands:

Former Roland Garros finalist Magnus Norman and Soderling’s coach at the time:

Magnus Norman

Larry Stefanski, Andy Roddick’s coach:

Larry Stefanski

Amélie Mauresmo:

Amélie Mauresmo

Guy Forget and Mansour Bahrami:

Mansour Bahrami and Guy Forget

More pics and videos of Paris Bercy 2010.

Nike created a limited edition Court Ballistec 2.2 in conjunction with the US Open. The shoes were sold at the US Open, with only a limited quantity available at the US Open Nike Store. Nike and Rafael Nadal played off Wilson tennis balls and applied the tennis ball material to the Court Ballistec 2.2. A perfect idea for the US Open.
The shoe features a tennis ball-like upper with a yellow sockliner, midsole, and XDR outsole. A rubber toe cap and white Swoosh add detail.
The shoes were only available in size 15 for $40. You had the option of buying a left or right shoe for $40. This is a great collector’s item, and a better buy for people that wear size 15.

Via Niketalk

Rafa dominated from first point on and defeated Tomas Berdych in straight sets 6-3 7-5 6-4. The win gave him an eighth career major title just past the age of 24. Nadal joins a list of greats that includes Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall. Just 5 players won more majors than Nadal: Rod Laver (11), Bjorn Borg (11), Roy Emerson (12), Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (16).

The world number one struggled in the early rounds, but played his best tennis when needed, especially against Andy Murray in semifinals and Berdych in final.

I think the biggest difference between us was that when he get a chance, he just took it, you know. He give me one in the second set, one in the third set, and none of them I can, you know, bring it to my side and just made a break.
That just show how strong he is. I think it was just really about the small difference.

Next goal for Rafa: to win the US Open, the only trophy missing to his impressive collection.

Third round: Rafael Nadal vs Lleyton Hewitt
Head to head: 5-4
2009 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
2008 Beijing Olympics, Hard Nadal 6-1, 6-2
2007 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(5)
2007 ATP Masters Series Hamburg Clay Nadal 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
2006 Queen’s Club Grass Hewitt 3-6, 6-3 RET
2006 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
2005 Australian Open Hard Hewitt 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2
2004 ATP Masters Series Toronto, Hard Hewitt 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
2004 Australian Open Hard Hewitt 7-6(2), 7-6(5), 6-2

Rafa and Lleyton met at the same stage of the tournament last year. Rafa is once again the big favorite, as he became the first player in history to win all 3 clay court Masters titles in a single year and the first player to win 3 consecutive Masters events.
But as always, Nadal won’t overlook his opponent: “We know Hewitt. He’s a very dangerous guy and he plays at a very high level. He’s going to do his best to win, of course.”
Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt will give everything on the court: “He cleaned me up last few times. He’s obviously very dominant, especially on this surface. I’m gonna have to go out there and execute what I want to do, and do it bloody well.”

You can follow here live this match between two former number ones.

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