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The Roland Garros Moment You Must See

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018

The Roland Garros Moment You Must See

Mahut/Herbert beat Marach/Pavic for their first Roland Garros title

Nicolas Mahut appeared to be tearing up after partnering Pierre-Hugues Herbert to their first Roland Garros title. Suddenly his six-year-old son, Natanel, sprinted across the red dirt and leapt into his father’s waiting arms as the crowd cheered him on.

Mahut said that Natanel had asked him for two days how he can get down from the stands onto the court. And while he did not know how it would play out, the Frenchman was ecstatic it happened.

“I knew that they had found a possibility. I didn’t know if he was going to go through the locker room or the players’ entrance. I knew he was going to find a way,” Mahut said. “These two, three minutes, when we hugged with Pierre-Hugues and then my child arrives on the court, I felt really blessed. I’m really fulfilled. I don’t think I can achieve something or live something bigger.”

Five years ago, Mahut came excruciatingly close to winning the Roland Garros title with Michael Llodra, leading Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 4/2 in a third-set tie-break for the championship before falling short. But on Saturday, Mahut joined Herbert to wash away those memories, defeating Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic to become the third all-French team in the Open Era to lift the trophy on the terre battue.

Natanel got in on the celebration, leading Herbert and then his father in a ‘floss’ dance to the delight of the home crowd. It is safe to say that for everyone involved, it is a moment that will last a lifetime.

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Halep thought Grand Slam chance had 'gone' again

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Simona Halep thought another chance to win her first Grand Slam title “had gone” before she fought back to win the French Open.

Halep, 26, was a set and a break down against American 10th seed Sloane Stephens but won 3-6 6-4 6-1.

The Romanian had lost all three of her previous Grand Slam finals, including last year’s Roland Garros showpiece.

“I felt ‘it’s gone, it’s not going to happen again, but it’s OK. I have just to play’,” the world number one said.

  • Halep beats Stephens to win French Open
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Halep led by a set and a break in last year’s defeat by unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, and said she used the experience of being on the wrong end of that fightback to help her turn around Saturday’s match.

“When I started to win games, I said that last year the same thing happened to me,” she said. “So I said there is a chance to come back and win it,

“I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that’s why I could win.”

Halep rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time in October and has been the leading player on the WTA Tour this year.

But a first major title had eluded her until now, and she said she “could not breathe” as she closed in on it.

“I was very strong mentally to finish that,” she said. “It’s a special moment. I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis.

“Roland Garros is my favourite Grand Slam. I always said that if I’m going to win one, I want it to be here.”

Wimbledon next… but first a party and a holiday!

Halep said she would celebrate with a “big” party in Paris on Saturday night, then take a holiday before switching her attention to the grass-court season, which culminates at Wimbledon next month.

There she will look to improve on a solitary semi-final appearance in 2014, having lost in the quarter-finals in both of the past two years.

“The grass is coming, I have few tournaments ahead, but now I’m off,” she said.

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“So I’m not going to talk about the next tournaments. I just want to enjoy this moment.”

She said having to answer repeated questions about never having won a Grand Slam was “the toughest” and thanked her “really special” family and friends for giving her the strength to achieve her dream.

“Without them probably I couldn’t come back after losing three finals,” she said.

Stephens ‘glad’ for Halep

Stephens, 25, was bidding for her second Grand Slam title following her success at the US Open in September – a title she claimed just six weeks after she was ranked 957th in the world having had 10 months out with a foot injury.

Having never gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros before this year, she made a strong start against Halep.

The American dominated the first set and went a break up in the second before Halep won 11 of the next 14 games to clinch the title.

Asked what had changed, Stephens said: “She raised her game, raised her level.

“Not much you can really do about that. I competed the best I could, and the better player won the match.

“She’s had a tough journey. I think winning here is very special for her and I’m glad she finally got her first Slam. It’s a beautiful thing, very special.

“No matter how hard the adversity that you go through, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m glad she finally got her light.”

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Nadal needs 'his best' against Thiem in French Open final

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018
2018 French Open men’s final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: Sunday, 10 June Time: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Rafael Nadal says he will have to “play his best” to beat Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s French Open final and secure an 11th Roland Garros title.

Nadal, 32, has won a record 10 titles in Paris and has lost only twice at the tournament since his debut in 2005.

The Spaniard has been beaten just twice on clay in the past two seasons and both defeats have come against Thiem.

“I have a very difficult match against a player that is playing great,” 16-time Grand Slam winner Nadal said.

“I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

“Sunday is the day to give my best, is the day to increase even a little bit more the level.”

  • Analysis: why is Nadal so good on clay?
  • Halep wins French Open for maiden Grand Slam title

Thiem, who will be competing in his first Grand Slam final, beat Nadal at last year’s Italian Open and won the pair’s most recent meeting at the Madrid Open last month. He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.

All of the Austrian’s victories over Nadal have come in three-set matches, while the world number one has beaten Thiem twice in best-of-five-set matches at Roland Garros, including a straight-set victory in the semi-finals of last year’s tournament.

However, the world number eight says he “has a plan” to beat Nadal.

“If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid,” Thiem said.

“I know how to play against him. I have a plan.

“But I’m also aware that here it’s tougher. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also different story.”

‘We know Thiem can beat Nadal’

Nadal’s remarkable record at the French Open has led seven-time Grand Slam singles champion John McEnroe to claim beating the Spaniard in Paris is the toughest task in sport.

His only defeats in the tournament came in the 2009 fourth round against Robin Soderling and in the 2015 quarter-finals against Novak Djokovic.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash told BBC Radio 5 live that Nadal’s experience makes victory “tough for Thiem”.

“We know Thiem can beat him,” Cash said.

“I’d love to build this up to say Thiem has a real chance and that it will be nip and tuck.

“When you look at it on paper, you say if it wasn’t the final of the French Open and wasn’t on that centre court, then you’d say he has a real chance.

“But it is the experience that Nadal has, it makes it tough for a guy like Thiem.”

‘It’s almost impossible to beat Rafa’

Nadal has dropped just one set in this year’s tournament, in the quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman when he trailed by a set and a break in a rain-affected match.

He beat fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1 6-2 in the semi-finals and afterwards the Argentine said it is “almost impossible” to beat Nadal on clay.

“He’s too strong,” Del Potro said.

“He’s improving his backhand a lot. That’s why he’s the number one and beating all the guys.

“He looks fresh. He is healthy. And the strength that he has and the mentality, everything is perfect, works perfect for him playing on clay.

“Let’s see what Dominic can do. I mean, Dominic beat Rafa in Madrid. Maybe on Sunday he can repeat.”

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Dan Evans loses in Surbiton Trophy semi-finals

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018

Former British number two Dan Evans, on a comeback from a year’s ban for using cocaine, lost in the Surbiton Trophy semi-finals to top seed Jeremy Chardy.

The 28-year-old was beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-3) by the Frenchman, who is a former Australian Open quarter-finalist and was once ranked 25th in the world.

Evans has won 12 of his 15 matches since his return in April.

Ranked 858th in the world, Evans is likely to require a wildcard to make the main draw of Wimbledon this summer.

He reached a career-high ranking of 41 in March 2017, a month before he tested positive for cocaine at an event in Barcelona.

He reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2016, losing to Roger Federer in straight sets on Centre Court.

In the women’s semi-finals in Surbiton, 21-year-old Briton Harriet Dart was beaten 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) by Switzerland’s Conny Perrin.

  • Halep beats Stephens to win French Open title
  • Live scores, schedule and results
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Halep wins French Open for first Grand Slam title

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Simona Halep finally won her first Grand Slam title with a gutsy comeback victory over American 10th seed Sloane Stephens in the French Open final.

Halep, who had lost her three previous major finals, went a set and a break down at Roland Garros.

But the 26-year-old Romanian battled back to take a see-saw second set against the US Open champion.

She then raced away with the third to win 3-6 6-4 6-1.

  • Reaction: Halep thought chance had ‘gone’ again
  • Relive Halep’s victory over Stephens
  • Alerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone

“I did everything I could. It is amazing what is happening now,” Halep said.

“I have been dreaming for this moment since I started playing tennis.”

Halep clinched victory with her first match point, Stephens unable to return a powerful first serve.

The top seed dropped her racquet in celebration, covering her face with both hands before Stephens walked around the net to warmly hug the champion.

Given a standing ovation by the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd, a tearful Halep climbed into the stand behind the baseline to celebrate with her family and coaching team.

Focused Halep achieves Grand Slam dream

Halep had lost in two previous French Open finals – to Maria Sharapova in 2014 and Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 – and against Caroline Wozniacki in this year’s Australian Open showpiece.

The world number one said in the build-up to this match that she felt relaxed and would not be fazed by the pressure of winning her first Slam.

And so it proved as she delivered in front of an expectant crowd.

Halep was the favourite to finally land her first major title against an opponent who is better known for her success on hard courts rather than clay.

But she was beaten by Stephens’ brilliance, not herself, in the opening set.

After that Halep took control, winning four games in a row early in the second as momentum turned.

An early break in the third set, with Stephens appearing to tire, put the Romanian in command.

Backed by plenty of noisy Romanian support, Halep broke again for 4-0 after an astonishing point in which she wore Stephens down with her relentless returning.

She raced through a hold to love and, after taking Stephens to deuce, served out to win her first Grand Slam at the 33rd attempt.

Stephens fades after strong start

Stephens’ run to her second Grand Slam final came as a surprise to many, given she had never previously made it past the fourth round at Roland Garros.

The 25-year-old American had won all but one of her six Tour titles – including last year’s US Open victory – on a hard court.

But her performances here are further proof she is ready to challenge regularly for more honours.

She will now rise to fourth in the world rankings after dropping to 957th just six weeks before her Flushing Meadows victory, following a foot injury which kept her out for almost a year.

Stephens breezed through the French Open draw, dropping only one set, though she did not face anybody seeded higher until she met Halep.

Many experts predicted a baseline battle in the final – and that is how it turned out.

In the opening set, Stephens’ sharp movement across the baseline enabled her to return everything Halep threw at her, while forcing the Romanian into errors and hitting some wonderful winners herself.

However, she could not replicate the same intensity in the second.

Stephens coughed up the first double fault of the match for 0-30 in the fourth game, in the middle of that momentum shift towards Halep, and from there the signs were ominous.

“It’s not the trophy I wanted but it is still beautiful,” Stephens said.

“Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I’d rather lose to than the number one in the world.”

Halep follows in the footsteps of greats – the key stats

  • Halep is the fourth woman to win a Grand Slam after losing at least three previous finals – following Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert and Jana Novotna
  • She is the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam title, after Virginia Ruzici’s victory at Roland Garros in 1978
  • Halep is the 27th different woman in the Open era to win the Roland Garros title
  • Only seven women have taken longer than Halep (33 attempts) to win their maiden Grand Slam title
  • Halep won the Roland Garros girls’ singles in 2008 and is only the sixth player to do so, then win the women’s title
  • Halep has 24 career wins and nine defeats at Roland Garros. Only Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova have a higher winning percentage.

‘An unstoppable head of steam’ – analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Stephens played a first set of staggering quality, and not even the world number one, on her favourite court, could find the answers.

There was no warning of the change of momentum two games into the second set, but Halep started serving more consistently and after edging a tight second set, built up an unstoppable head of steam.

The Romanian says she is more relaxed, and more fatalistic, this year – and it certainly showed on court. Halep refused to panic, and slowly and surely Stephens started to lose heart.

Three narrow misses in Grand Slam finals – and her response to the setbacks – have endeared Halep to fans all around the world.

In victory she has emulated Chris Evert, who also lost her first three Grand Slam finals before breaking her duck here at Roland Garros.

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Serena Williams should be ready for Wimbledon, says her coach

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Former world number one Serena Williams should be fit for Wimbledon, according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion pulled out of Monday’s last-16 match at the French Open against Maria Sharapova with an injury that affected her serve.

“Within two weeks she should recover and will be able to hit again,” Mouratoglou told BBC Radio 5 live.

“Then she has 15 days to do a lot of fitness and improve her speed on court. She should be ready for Wimbledon.”

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Roland Garros was the first Grand Slam event Williams had entered since she returned to tennis after giving birth to her first child in September 2017.

The 36-year-old had looked in good form in her opening matches before an injury to her right pectoral muscle forced her to pull out of the highly anticipated encounter with long-time rival Sharapova.

“It was a great idea to not play that match against Maria because she couldn’t serve and it would have been difficult to win without serving,” Mouratoglou added.

“Also because it would take an incredible risk to tear the muscle that was very close to being torn.”

Asked whether seven-time Wimbledon singles champion Williams had enough match practice to go deep into this year’s tournament, which begins on 2 July, her coach replied: “I think so.

“On that level, Roland Garros was fantastic because she started not competing great because she had not competed for so long.

“But after the first set of second match the real Serena popped out.”

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Williams beat Kristyna Pliskova and 11th seed Julia Gorges in straight sets in her French Open first and third-round matches. In round two, she fought back from a set down to win against Australian 17th seed Ashleigh Barty.

“I think she is competitive, her level and fitness is back,” Mouratoglou said.

“Plus at Wimbledon she will have the small advantage because she has the serve, which can take her out of bad situations.”

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