“I was part of the tie when we lost away to Lithuania in Group Two, and that proved to be John Lloyd’s last match as captain.
Then, Leon came in and we played Turkey in Eastbourne. The pressure was on because if we had lost that, it would have been Group C, which is a totally different format, and not where we would want to be at all. The tie went really well, we won 5-0, then next up we played Tunisia in Bolton, and I remember Leon doing a presentation to the guys in the team hotel.
The main theme was that we were on a journey back to the World Group. At the time, it seemed quite ambitious and optimistic, but it has proven to be a reality. Andy coming back on board has been a key thing. It makes a huge difference having him there, but it is amazing the journey from those days. It would be unbelievable to end it by winning the Davis Cup.
Obviously, the team struggled for a while without Andy. There is no doubt about it, but it gave certain people a real chance to step up and play. Over the years, a few people have proven themselves in this arena. James Ward, obviously, while Dan Evans had some amazing Davis Cup results too.”
A look at Team GB’s journey from World II group to Davis Cup final:
Dan Evans had zero wins from his last 10 matches, but he was the hero of Britain’s tie against Slovakia: he beat Lukas Lacko ranked 211 places above him in straight sets, and Martin Klizan, ranked 156 places higher, in the deciding rubber.
Britain faced Belgium in the second round. Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins kept the British hopes of a comeback alive after Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis wins. But David Goffin, making his Davis Cup singles debut defeated Josh Goodall in straight sets to propel Belgium to the World Group play-offs.
GROUP I EUROPE/AFRICA 1ST ROUND: GREAT BRITAIN – SLOVAKIA 3-2, Glasgow, hard
Dan Evans defeats Lukas Lacko 6-3 7-5 7-5
Martin Klizan defeats James Ward 6-2 4-6 6-4 7-6
Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins defeat Michal Mertinak/Filip Polasek 6-3 7-6 0-6 6-3
Lukas Lacko defeats James Ward 7-6 6-1 6-3
Dan Evans defeats Martin Klizan 6-1 6-1 4-6 3-6 6-3
GROUP I EUROPE/AFRICA 2ND ROUND: GREAT BRITAIN – BELGIUM 1-3, Glasgow, hard
Steve Darcis defeats Josh Goodall 6-7 6-3 6-4 6-4
Olivier Rochus defeats Dan Evans 3-6 6-5 7-6 6-4
Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins defeat Ruben Bemelmans/David Goffin 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
David Goffin defeats Josh Goodall 6-4 6-4 6-4
Photo credit: Lizzim
2003 and 2004: injuries
In 2003, I was high enough in the rankings (No. 87) for direct acceptance into the main draw but I hurt my elbow, so I had to withdraw.
In 2004, I had a bad left foot injury and I was off from April until July. This time though I came to Paris as I was invited by one of my sponsors. It was the first time that I’d been at Roland Garros. I was on crutches, but it didn’t stop me from going all the way to the top of the stands at Philippe Chatrier Court. I sat on one of the seats to the right of the court to drink in the atmosphere. It’s a fond memory for me. I was disappointed not to be able to play but deep down, I knew that sooner or later I would be able to take part in the tournament.
Tennis on clay:
Tennis on clay is the most complete expression of the sport as far as I’m concerned. The rallies are longer since the surface is slower, so you have to construct every point and implement a strategy to try to grind down your opponent. You need to be more patient, know how to defend and find a way to take control of points. And if you like this surface and feel at home on it, Roland Garros is obviously the temple of clay. It’s a unique point in the season.
2005, first Roland Garros trophy:
I’d won a lot of titles on clay – in Brazil, Acapulco, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so I had a lot of confidence. I knew that I had the game and the strength to go deep. During the tournament, I just took one match at a time, but I knew that if I played my best, I could achieve something.
When I see myself in 2005, I see a player with an incredible energy and enormous powers of concentration. I was on such a good form. I played with real intensity and passion. I was young and I had a carefree attitude you would expect of a 19-year-old. In the final against Mariano Puerta, I knew that it would be a difficult match and that’s what it was. But I knew that anything was possible. This win will always be a key moment in my career. In the space of two months, I went from No. 50 in the world to winning Roland Garros. I handled it well in my head, because after this win, I stayed the same, I carried on working hard to keep on the right path as best I could.
It’s true that after that first win, I thought “That’s it, my dream has come true, so now the rest of my career, I will be calmer.” But I’d got it all wrong. Because each season, it was the same thing – you’re nervous, you want to win because you want to get back that indescribable feeling of emerging victorious at a Grand Slam tournament. So this feeling of calm that I thought I had got with that win turned out to be very temporary because a few months later, the tension and the desire to give it my all came back – stronger than before.
Not only the King of clay:
Winning at Roland Garros gives you the strength and the confidence to win elsewhere. Because when you start winning, you get into a virtuous circle: winning boosts your confidence, it makes you calmer, you gain more experience and it gives you a healthy dose of positive energy. Roland Garros is therefore a unique tournament in my career because it also enabled me to win on hard courts, on grass and everywhere else. In 2005, a lot of people thought that I could only play on clay, but after I won the French Open, I went on to win the Masters 1000 in Montreal and the tournament in Madrid (then played on hard courts), so I was good enough to win on other surfaces.
2008, 2012, 2014:
Lots of things have happened to me at Roland Garros. 2008 for example was the year that I was further ahead the pack than ever before. I didn’t drop a set and think that this is the tournament where I played my best tennis.
In 2014 against Novak Djokovic, it was the toughest final physically. I’d never felt that tired – at the end of the first set as well. It was very hot, humid and muggy even though it had been quite cool throughout the fortnight. My body struggled with it. I also had some fitness problems during this tournament.
In 2012, I had cortisone injections to play because my knee was hurting. Thee was another year, I forget which one, when I also needed injections, this time on my foot. But injuries and fitness issues are part and parcel of being a tennis professional. With hindsight, I can see that the injuries led to me missing some important moments and tournaments but at the same time, they allowed me to put into perspective everything that I’ve achieved.
That defeat in 2009 was a hard one to swallow, I won’t deny that, but at the same time it wasn’t a tragedy. You mustn’t blow it out of proportion. I’d won the tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to win Roland Garros every year and that’s normal, I can actually lose, I know that, so I went home and decided to prepare as best I could to try to win it again.
It was a very special victory. Even if I didn’t drop a set this year, it wasn’t as easy as in 2008. I was coming from a long way back. 2009 was a very tough year, both personally and physically. I hurt my knee before Roland Garros then after that it was my stomach muscles during the American swing. I went through some bad times. And after all that, I came back and won Roland Garros again. I was very, very emotional, and this win was the starting point of an exceptional period because I went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open. And once again it all started at Roland Garros.
Source: Roland Garros Magazine
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:
Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2004:
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:
Novak Djokovic, 2008:
Court Philippe Chatrier, 2010:
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 new tennis season is fast approaching, and the best players in the world are busy training hard in preparation for another demanding and gruelling year on tour. But before we launch into 2013, we should take a moment to reflect on the careers and legacies of those who hung up their racquets for the last time in 2012…
Biggest ATP Retirement: Andy Roddick
On his 30th birthday, Andy Roddick called a press conference and revealed that the 2012 US Open would be his final competitive tournament. The decision caught everyone by surprise, but it seemed fitting for a man who, used to giving his all, knew that his body was no longer able to withstand a brutal training and playing regime.
Roddick had been his country’s number one player for most of the last decade. Blessed with one of the biggest serves in the history of the game, he regularly sent down unreturnable deliveries of over 220km/h, accompanied by his trademark compact swing and shotgun-like pop. He resembled an exuberant puppy on the court, pouncing on short balls and unleashing his formidable off-forehand with relish. Not the most naturally fluid of players, Roddick constantly strove to expand his arsenal of shots, and developed a very effective all-court game. Occasionally, his temper got the better of him, and umpires were often in his firing line, but he earned a reputation for being extremely gracious in defeat, and was a fan favourite wherever he played.
At the time, his 2003 US Open win seemed to herald the arrival of a new hero in American tennis, but Roddick’s main misfortune was to have shared an era with Roger Federer. He fell to the Swiss in four Grand Slam finals, including three at Wimbledon. The most heartbreaking was a 16-14 loss in the deciding set of the 2009 Wimbledon final, a match in which Roddick’s serve was broken only once. In all, he had a 3-21 record against Federer, and one wonders how much more decorated the Nebraskan’s career would have been without that perennial obstacle.
Biggest WTA Retirement: Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters has the distinction of retiring for a second time in 2012. The Belgian originally called it a day in 2007, citing mounting injuries and her desire to start a family. The lure of competition proved too strong, however, and she returned to the WTA tour in 2009.
Enjoy his pics and recap on yinyang.co.uk