Lawn tennis remains a luxury in France

“Grass is good for the cows!” », railed Guillermo Vilas, a dominant tennis player in the 1970s but borrowed from the London lawn of Wimbledon. An enchanted parenthesis today, playing on grass was the norm yesterday when three of the four major Grand Slam tournaments on the tennis circuit were played on grass.

Since the end of the 1980s, the US Open and then the Australian Open have been played on “hard courts”. A fast surface par excellence, grass still enjoys its credentials in Great Britain, which still has more than 1,200 courts according to the British Tennis Federation.

Tennis: the very financial reform of the ATP world circuit

The queen surface across the Channel has never been democratized in France. The oldest grass court in France is located… at the British Embassy, ​​in the heart of Paris. It is in this bucolic setting that handpicked personalities try their hand at the lawn mowed close to the ground – 5 to 7 millimeters high – to the tunes of Wimbledon-sur-Seine.

For the governing bodies of French tennis, the game on grass is not a priority. “We have never visited a club, we have never developed any particular expertise, because it is a surface that we do not do”, explains with lucidity Nicolas Maignan, equipment manager of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). The courts available represent only a tiny part of the 31,000 tennis courts in France.

Very expensive maintenance

The only grass courts belong to private structures. In addition to the British Embassy, ​​Lagardère Paris Racing has three. The Moliets tennis club (Landes), yet a pioneer in the field, abandoned its two courts in 2021.

Destined to become an international center at the beginning of the 21st century, Moliets-et-Maa was equipped with the three surfaces (hard, grass, clay) of the Grand Slam tournaments, with the aim of attracting French players. in their preparation for Wimbledon. This project was nipped in the bud and the land was gradually abandoned by the licensees.

The particularity of the lawn is that it deteriorates very quickly and therefore requires pharaonic maintenance. Therefore, it can become impractical and any ambition for profitability is futile. “Per year, the grass courts brought us a maximum rental of €1,000”explains Frédéric Casenave, teacher at the Moliets club since 1989.

Profitability was one of the challenges of the Lawn tennis club of Deauville (Normandy) which had the project to create a “French Wimbledon”. In 2016, eleven natural grass courts came out of the ground in record time, with the ultimate goal of creating a professional tournament. But far from attracting the expected crowds, the club closed down three years later.

Cloister of greenery

Being played outdoors, the turf is also sensitive to the weather, which makes maintenance difficult. The daily regrowth must be monitored, the tracing of the lines must be regular: the courts are usable during the summer, “beyond that, it’s more difficult”says Frédéric Casenave. In September, for example, we made sure to play in the afternoon because with the morning dew, the supports gave way and the grass deteriorated. In October, it became unplayable ».

The charm of an English green does not, however, leave you indifferent. So, some use it for its shine. The castle of Villandry (Indre-et-Loire), renowned for its gardens, has the particularity of having a grass court since 2010. Bordered by a green cloister, visitors can lend themselves to a game on the lawn for a visit.

“Barefoot, or in shoes, we lend rackets and balls and they can play tennis, explains Henri Carvallo, owner of the castle. Fabrice Santoro (former French tennis player) even came to give a demonstration a few years ago. » On September 16, twelve companies will compete in a leisure tournament in the heart of the castle gardens, the only lawn tennis event in France for three years.



Tennis: the very financial reform of the ATP world circuit

He was indeed there, this Monday, June 20, for his first training balls on the English lawn. Rafael Nadal intends to play the Wimbledon tournament from June 27, which he has not won since 2010, and his painful left foot is asked to be silent. The Mallorcan is far from done with tennis. On the courts as well as outside, as he has just proved by playing the VRP of the “One Vision” plan of the ATP, the association which organizes the world circuit.

The reform presented last week by the boss of the instance, Andrea Gaudenzi, did not really make the headlines. Yet she wants to be ” revolutionary “. It must be said that the Italian has been fine-tuning it almost since his arrival at the helm of the ATP at the start of 2020. Two years of discussions turned upside down by the pandemic, but which finally lead to a strategy shaping the future of the circuit. And obviously, the priority is financial.

More profits for more players

Because the observation is bitter. According to the ATP, tennis can boast of one billion fans on the planet and thus claim fourth place in terms of popularity (after football, basketball and cricket). Except that the little yellow ball points far away in terms of the income generated by its show. Globally, it crunches only 1.3% of the 52 billion dollars in revenue from the media, when football devours 40.6%, and basketball 8.6%. In other words: the product is poorly displayed and poorly sold.

The ATP’s solution is therefore to ensure that the tournaments it organises, mainly the Masters 1000, are upgraded. To do this, they will be longer (12 days rather than 8) and will welcome more players. (96 rather than 56). The American tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami are already in this format. They will be joined by Madrid, Rome and Shanghai in 2023, by the Canadian Masters and Cincinnati in 2025. Only the Bercy and Monte Carlo tournaments remain concentrated over 8 days, their infrastructures not allowing an extension for the moment.

In addition to this growing system, there is a desire for transparency in tournament costs, allowing real revenue sharing with players. At the same time, the ATP promises a 35% increase in bonuses by 2025, and a 37% increase in bonuses distributed at the end of the year to 30 and no longer 12 players. All the measures must ultimately benefit more than 140 players, while less than a hundred really share the cake today. “As a result, they welcome the reform rather well, because more of them will be able to afford solid coaching allowing them to recover better, to better manage their season, underlines Lionel Maltese, lecturer at Aix-Marseille University and consultant for the Open 13 Provence, ATP 250 tournament. On the other hand, smaller tournaments will no doubt find it even more difficult than before to land big headliners. »

The utopia of unitary governance

The ATP certainly evokes a solidarity redistribution for the smallest tournaments through its subsidiary ATP Médias which must collect the new exploitation and broadcasting rights, but for the ATP 500 competitions (11 tournaments) and ATP 250 (40 tournaments), guaranteeing a solid board will be a headache, with players who are truly untouchable. “The black hole of the reform is that it does not offer flexibility on points in the ATP ranking either, continues Lionel Maltese. If we credited certain tournaments like Marseille or Metz with 300 points for example, instead of 250, the leeway to seduce players with something other than the financial aspect would be interesting. There should be more proportionality in the points rather than these rigid levels, 1,000, 500, 250.

The reform is not more talkative on other less striking and stumbling points. What about the physical and mental health of the players, yet more and more undermined? The debate on the duration of the matches, however still pregnant between the proponents of the end of the matches in five sets and the defenders of the tradition, is dodged. The ATP first formulates what to inflate its business, before a second phase of its plan which pursues the chimera of a unitary governance. Shared today between the ATP, the WTA in charge of the women’s circuit, the International Federation, and the four organizers of the Grand Slam, it is hue and dia, as shown by the debate on the participation of the Russian champions (read opposite). The collective strategy is still in limbo. “There is still a lot of work to do,” recognizes the ATP plan. Indeed.


Wimbledon, without Russians and without points

The English tournament remained firm on the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians from its garden. The ATP and the WTA have therefore decided that no points will be awarded during the fortnight. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has made the same arrangement for the junior and wheelchair events. Many players are annoyed by the measure, regretting coming to almost play “an exhibition”. The debate is decided differently by the US Open: the American Federation (USTA) organizer accepts Russians and Belarusians, who will line up under a neutral flag from August 29th.



Should anti-doping rules be the same in all sports?

►”The anti-doping rules are already the same everywhere”

Vincent Guillarddoctor at the French Tennis Federation, referent during the Roland-Garros tournament

The question of whether Rafael Nadal is doped or not is difficult because it is not known exactly which injections were performed. He announced at a press conference that he had played with his foot asleep, we don’t know where, but I don’t think he could have played with a completely anesthetized foot. Only his team can communicate on what he has done or not. But to my knowledge, there is no anesthetic that is a doping product. Nadal therefore remained within the anti-doping regulations.

A medical debate for the player and his staff

Regarding the relationship to pain and the possibility of reducing it to be able to participate in a competition, each athlete acts according to his state of mind and what he has the right to do. When we are sick, we take medicine to get treatment. On the Tour de France, I think that some athletes occasionally take antibiotics for an illness, and that’s not why they are taken out of the race.

From the moment when they have a priori done nothing against the anti-doping rules, the debate concerns above all the athlete himself and his medical staff: it is up to them to know what they want to do and how they want it TO DO. For them, it’s above all a medical debate, on the best way to deal with the Müller-Weiss syndrome, which this player suffers from and we don’t know to what extent, and it’s also a sporting debate, for choose the method that will allow it to perform.

It is also an ethical debate

For us, spectators, it is a debate that is more about ethics, even philosophy. Standardize anti-doping rules for all sports? This is already more or less the case, because we are all under the guise of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which defines prohibited products generally, and not by sport, with a few exceptions.

So I don’t understand either when we talk about “grey zone”, an expression which designates products that are not prohibited but which affect performance. The problem is to know what is incriminated: the process or the product used? If this is the product used, in this case an anesthetic, we could also very well imagine giving it to a cyclist who has a slight wrist injury so that he can pedal normally, for example.

I think what matters is more the product that is injected, not the mechanism. We are entitled to think that his staff, with whom he has collaborated for a long time, has done things that are perfectly legal. Especially since I think he was confronted with doping controls during the fortnight. Knowing, more broadly, if what he did tarnishes the image of tennis, it is not for me to decide. This is a debate that goes beyond the sports field.

►”Against suspicion, we must go beyond the regulations”

Roger Legeayformer rider and founding president of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC)

Rafael Nadal himself opened the debate by speaking about it at a press conference after his match. Without saying whether or not the injections he received were a form of doping, he has the merit of having put that on the table, especially since he also affirmed that he would not continue to take these injections this season.

The most important element in my eyes is that an athlete has suppressed the effect of pain in order to be able to participate in a competition. While pain is, along with natural talent and training, one of the effects that most condition athletic performance. By acting on it, Rafael Nadal played against the principle of fairness and therefore against the spirit of sport.

An impossible practice in the bike

I understand the reaction of the cyclists who expressed themselves in the press, and it is very good that Guillaume Martin spoke on Monday 6 in The Team(arguing for “for a certain homogenization of the regulations between the different sports”, Editor’s note). In cycling, you don’t run if you are sick or injured, you start by resting and taking care of yourself and you only come back to competition when you are taken care of. You couldn’t see in today’s cycling what Rafael Nadal did at Roland-Garros.

The anti-doping rules are the same for most sports, it’s true, but given its history with doping in the 1990s and 2000s, the cycling world took extra steps, deciding to ban products that are otherwise authorized by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) is part of this spirit, advocating the ” no-needle (no needles) and even going further than the measures taken by the International Cycling Union.

Remove “grey areas”

When we talk about standardizing the anti-doping rules, we have to be careful with the terms: it’s more a question of requiring other sports to do as much as cycling, and on that, we must also that the actors concerned want it. Anti-doping rules should be standardized in all disciplines, because doping is of the same nature in all sports. This raises the eternal question of knowing where doping begins, and that of the “grey zones”.

We must remove these gray areas, to get rid of suspicion, which is the great problem of sport in general. We are all supporters, and me the first, of the beauty of the gesture and the athlete, but it is also a pity that these performances are questioned. To erase these gray areas, we must go further than today’s rules. And for that, the volunteer track, like at the MPCC – open and transparent – ​​is the best way to go to speed things up.



Roland-Garros: 14th coronation at the end of pain for Rafael Nadal

“It’s extraordinary for me to play here. » Normally, the expression of Rafael Nadal would be classified among the few clichés that the player recites in French on the court after each of his victories on clay in Paris. This Sunday, June 5, however, the public had every reason to believe in the sincerity of the Spaniard, who remained to greet his supporters after his victory in the Roland-Garros final against the Norwegian Casper Ruud (6-3, 6-3, 6 -0).

→ PORTRAIT. Victory of Iga Swiatek, undisputed patron of women’s tennis

If he had come to covet a 14e crowned this year at the Porte d’Auteuil, the “Manacor bull” did not advance in the skin of the favorite, but rather with a muffled step, three weeks after limping during the preparation tournament in Rome, where the Marjorquin had been eliminated in the round of 16. Blame it on chronic foot pain, which had already kept him out of court for five months last season.

An incurable degenerative disease

Like Federer in 2017, Nadal made a triumphant and surprising return to Melbourne in January, at the first Grand Slam of the year, one of the four most demanding tournaments on the calendar, which are played over two weeks. and best of five sets. The title may have brought him the record of victories in major tournaments (21), he could not remove the discomfort felt from the middle to the back of his left foot, which the Spaniard has been dragging like a ball since his first Roland-Garros , contested – and won – 17 years ago.

At the time, the player was diagnosed with Müller-Weiss syndrome, an incurable degenerative disease with unknown origins affecting the navicular bone, usually observed in 40-60 year olds. ” This bone is subjected to significant stress and, for reasons that we do not know, loses its vascularization and becomes necrotic,” explained this week Denis Mainard, president of the French Association of Foot Surgery, quoted by Agence France-Presse.

→ LANDMARKS. Between Rafael Nadal and Roland-Garros, a history made of records

While an operation would make his foot too stiff, and would in fact prohibit him from continuing at the highest level, the Spaniard is holding on thanks to “a ton of daily anti-inflammatories, he explained between two games. If I don’t take it, I limp.”

Since the start of the tournament at Roland-Garros, Rafael Nadal has been physically pushed to his limits by the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime in the round of 16, won in five sets. He suffered against world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. He will thus have chained more than eight hours of play at very high intensity in two days.

He started on the same basis in the semi-final, before Alexander Zverev’s ankle twisted and forced the German to retire, after three hours for only two sets, the most hung of the fortnight.


The champion seems to have clung all the more to join the final as it could be his ” last match at Roland-Garros or even [sa] career “he warned at a press conference. “After this tournament I don’t know what will happen. If we can’t find an improvement, a small solution, it will be very hard for me. So far, we haven’t found a solution. »

Despite a preparation also truncated by a rib injury, at the end of March, his coach and former player, Carlos Moya, did not say “not surprised” of the career of his player, who, at 36, has become the oldest to play in a final at Roland-Garros: “ I know what he is capable of doing to survive in the worst conditions, I know his resilience. This is further proof of this tournament. […] You always hope Rafa gets something out of next to nothing. Every game he’s saved since the start of this tournament is like turning into a new player.”he assured The TeamSaturday.

→ STORY. Roland-Garros: Nadal bends Djokovic and qualifies for the semi-finals

“Players have a better resistance to pain in individual sports, because their careers largely depend on this parameter”, agrees Nicolas Rolland sports doctor and referent at the France pole in Poitiers, who already observed several Müller-Weiss syndromes” in his career. “But it’s rarely caught early: tennis players compensate for the pain so much with their muscles that when the pain shows up, you often realize that it’s already at an advanced stage. »

With this 22nd Grand Slam trophy won at the end of the pain, Nadal could be tempted to prolong his effort and further push the record of titles in major tournaments, from Wimbledon in three weeks.



Roland-Garros: Victory for Iga Swiatek, undisputed patron of women’s tennis

After falling in love with the Japanese Naomi Osaka, with a raw personality but too inconsistent results for two seasons, then with the Australian Ashley Barty, world No. 1 before the surprise announcement of her retirement, at 25, in last March, women’s tennis finally had a lasting headliner with Iga Swiatek. Saturday June 4, the 21-year-old Polish logically lifted the Cup at Roland-Garros after showing the court to the promise of American tennis player Coco Gauff (18) in the final of the Parisian Grand Slam (6-1, 6-3 ).

The signs of a boss are less to be found in her press conferences, which are always very conventional, than in reading her match sheets: to pocket her second Roland-Garros, after an unexpected success two years ago for that which was then only the 53e world player, the Pole only needed 1h15 on average over her seven matches, giving up only one set out of the 15 played in Paris. The only player to steal a set from her, the Chinese Zheng in the round of 16, then suffered a surge in the next two, for a 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory at the finish.

With this new success – her sixth title already this season after those clinched in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome – Swiatek extends her unbeaten streak to 35 games, equaling the American Venus Williams, so far the sole holder of the record for a player in the 21st century, after coming back up to the height of the other Williams sister, Serena, in the previous round (34 wins in a row). The Pole, however, remains far from the bar set very high by the Czech Martina Navratilova and her 74 rank victories in the 1980s. “These statistics are not useful, they do not help me”, confided the interested party during her fortnight at Porte d’Auteuil, aware that her series of victories could increase the weight of her next defeat.

If she prefers to detach herself from the media buzz that now surrounds each of her outings, it is because the player has made resistance to pressure the first of her struggles off the field. At the end of meetings spent suffocating her competitors from the back of the court, the Pole then most often sends her one-on-one meetings to the press, following one of the recommendations of her mental trainer, Daria Abramowicz.

A collaboration that began at the age of 17 when the Pole was not yet among the top hundred players in the WTA rankings. “From the start, she was very open (…) She felt that she needed a psychological approach different from what is usually done. It’s pretty rare at that age.” was she slipping this week at Release. “If you have a high level of expectation like Iga, it’s completely normal for there to be pressure, and it’s impossible to make it go away. If you try, you will waste energy unnecessarily. We therefore work in full consciousness: if you accept what you are going through, there is a greater chance that you will be able to shift your attention to something else, such as performance or recovery work. »

In the final of the Champions League, disputed in Saint-Denis during the fortnight and which it ” would have liked “ see, she confessed, or in the spirit of the times fueled by social networks, Swiatek still resists, preferring the wiser reading of the latest Yuval Noah Harari, or an Agatha Christie classic: “Maybe in two or three years, I will be able to do it but, for the moment, it is too difficult. I may not be able to focus enough on tennis. I have to stick to my routine. » The bubble seems necessary in women’s tennis that has lacked stability for several seasons – the ladies’ table winners remained on eight different winners – which has probably predicted peaks too quickly for its young nuggets for several seasons.

Roland-Garros: Nadal bends Djokovic and qualifies for the semi-finals

On the war in Ukraine, the champion does not seem, again, ready to put on the costume of the most recognized sportswoman in Poland behind the footballer Robert Lewandowski, who came to encourage her in the stands on Saturday. She just remembers that “sport is often exploited by politicians”. More at ease when it comes to talking about his passion for Rafael Nadal’s tennis, “I wrote in a small notebook, everything he did until the age of 15”she will support the Spaniard in the final of the men’s draw on Sunday 5 June.



Between Rafael Nadal and Roland-Garros, a history made of records

Between Rafael Nadal and Parisian clay, the love story began in 2005, when he was only 18 years old. Seventeen years later, the Majorcan suggests that the 2022 edition of Roland-Garros could be his last. Undoubtedly the last opportunity for the Spaniard to write a little more his name in the history of the tournament, when he is about to face, Friday June 3 in the afternoon, the German Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

Rafael Nadal has his sights set on a fourteenth final of the Parisian tournament. A record. One of the countless he holds on clay at Roland Garros where he has never been beaten in the final. Of his 21 Grand Slam titles (also a record), the man nicknamed the “Manacor bull” has 13 trophies at Roland-Garros. A fourteenth has never looked closer, as he said this year could be his last appearance in the tournament.

Three defeats since 2005

No other tennis player can claim to have won so many titles at Roland-Garros. A record that is not about to fall: the second in this ranking, Björn Borg (6 titles) ended his career even before the Spaniard began his. Among the players present on the circuit, Novak Djokovic has only won the tournament twice. The Swiss Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka have only one title to their name.

Rafael Nadal is also the only player in the history of tennis to have lifted the trophy without losing a single set during the tournament on four occasions: in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020. In 2017, he even lost only 35 games during the whole fortnight, an average of five games per game. Never seen. He also has the most consecutive wins in Paris. He won 39 consecutive matches between 2010 and 2014.

Three defeats since 2005

Since 2005, Rafael Nadal has left his opponents only crumbs. On the clay court of Roland-Garros, beating the Spaniard is a particularly difficult, if not impossible, task. First, because of his successive victories, the Parisian public pushes him, acclaims him. Only Roger Federer and French players can boast of such popularity.

But above all, because facing Rafael Nadal in Paris is synonymous with elimination, as the latter shows mastery on his favorite surface. Of his 17 previous appearances at Roland-Garros, he has lost only three games (against Robin Söderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015, then in 2020) and withdrew once, in 2016, due to injury. The Mallorcan has won no less than 110 matches. In his rearview mirror, Novak Djokovic (89) and Roger Federer (73) seem very far away.

→ VIDEO. Playing tennis on clay or grass, what does it change?



Roland-Garros 2022: the top seeds, a system designed for top finals

The time of the match and the choice of the broadcaster have caused a lot of ink to flow over the past two days. Rafael Nadal (5th in the world) and Novak Djokovic (1st) face off on Parisian clay this Tuesday, May 31. They will finally play at night, on Amazon Prime Video, which has however promised free broadcasting.

→ UNDERSTAND. Amazon beats France Télévisions in the other Roland-Garros match

However, one question remains: why do these two icons meet so early in the competition? Usually, Grand Slam tournaments rather offer this kind of duel at the top in the final, or even in the semi-final. But this year, the ATP rankings of the Spaniard and the Serb, which determine the place in the tournament table, suggested the possibility of an early duel.

Attract fans

In the four biggest tournaments on the circuit (Australian Open, US Open, Wimbledon, Roland-Garros), everything is done so that the best players compete as late as possible in the competition. The objective is to reward performance but also to attract fans, by offering them encounters between the top names on the circuit in high-stakes matches. A way for the tournament to ensure significant media and therefore financial fallout.

To achieve this, the seeding system was put in place. Among the 128 participants in a Grand Slam, the best players are ranked from 1 to 32 according to their world ranking at the ATP. The seeds are distributed after drawing lots in the tournament table but ensuring that no confrontation between them can occur before the third round of the competition. The rest of the table is filled randomly by computer with the other 96 players.

The seeding is not completely random, however. The seeded n°1 is placed opposite the seeded n°2, so that the two players (or players) can only meet in the final. Which explains why Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s unchallenged dominance of tennis has resulted in nine finals played, a record since the Open era began in 1968.

The Wimbledon exception

Theoretically, if the top seeds win their first three confrontations, the draw is made so that in the round of 16 the seed 1 to 4 faces a seed ranked between 13 and 16 and the seeds series n° 5 to 8 play against a seed ranked between 9 and 12. If the favorites hold their rank, the eight highest ranked players are thus found from the quarter-finals. A meeting between Rafael Nadal, 5th in the world, and Novak Djokovic, 1st, was therefore made possible at this stage of the tournament.

→ READ. At Roland-Garros, Gilles Simon capsizes the public and qualifies for the second round

Only the London tournament of Wimbledon has long been an exception. Until 2019 and although it used the seeding system, performance on grass (surface on which the tournament is played) was taken into account in the allocation of places. A singularity which has long favored Roger Federer, a grass specialist, to the detriment of Rafael Nadal, who has repeatedly complained about this specificity, judging that it does not “did not respect the statute” players.

The tournament organizers also reserve the right to make changes. In 2018, former world number one Serena Williams fell to 183rd place in the WTA world rankings after a year away from the courts. A ranking which had not prevented the American from being designated seeded n ° 25.

→ VIDEO. Who was Roland Garros?



The war in Ukraine shakes the world of tennis

More than the refreshing journey of the French squad, which ended with the elimination in the third round, Saturday May 28, of Léolia Jeanjean, Alizé Cornet, Gilles Simon and Hugo Gaston, it is the other red thread of this Roland-Garros 2022. Between two matches, the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 continue to fuel discussions in the locker room.

These concern Parisian clay less than London grass, since the ATP and the WTA, the two associations which govern the men’s and women’s circuits, announced on Friday May 20 their intention to compensate for the ban given by Wimbledon organizers to Russian and Belarusian players to participate in this next Grand Slam tournament (from June 27 to July 10).

→ THE FACTS. War in Ukraine: Wimbledon, the first tennis tournament to ban Russian athletes

The fear of a political recovery of Moscow in the event of a Russian victory – all the more plausible since the world No. 2, the Russian Daniil Medvedev, like the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, semi-finalist last year, appeared on the list favorites – had motivated the decision of the management and the English tennis federation, a month ago. The two authorities then stuck to the “position taken by the British government to limit the external influence of Russia”they said in their press release.

Consequences on the world ranking

A strong decision for the tennis family, which had until then taken its time to align itself with the banning of Russian and Belarusian players, recommended at the end of February by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and followed by most sports federations in the world. world. But who immediately lent the flank to criticism, from the Russian players themselves, who judged her “discriminatory”and from the world number one, Novak Djokovic, to those less accustomed to the spokesperson, such as the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, prompting the ATP to oppose in turn what it described as“unjust”.

Consequently, the latter has chosen not to distribute to all the actors of the future London fortnight any of the points which are usually due to them according to their career in the competition and which serve as the basis for the world ranking. This last resort reduces, in fact, the most prestigious of the four Grand Slams to a simple friendly tournament, without sporting consequences for the rest of the season, far from satisfying the circuit insofar as the players, who must defend at each tournament the points they had earned there a year earlier, will lose these units without being able, this time, to earn any. “I will go from 60th to 130th in the world. Thanks ! », preferred to irony on social networks the Hungarian Márton Fucsovics, quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2021.

Former president of the ATP players’ council, Novak Djokovic showed himself to be more understanding after his first round at Roland-Garros: I am happy that the players and the ATP have agreed, to show at the Grand Slams that, when they make a mistake, and Wimbledon made one, there are bound to be consequences. » The Serb, as defending champion, would lose the most points, and could find himself in a position to lift his seventh trophy across the Channel while being ejected from his seat as world number one… by Russian Daniil Medvedev. Faced with this incongruity, some headliners, like the Japanese Naomi Osaka, come to ask themselves the question of their participation.

ridge line

More than the controversy surrounding the awarding of these points, the debate recalls the crest line on which the world of sport has been toggling since the war in Ukraine, between the desire not to give propaganda material to the Kremlin, that of not stigmatizing however, Russian and Belarusian athletes themselves foreign to the conflict, and the ability to reassure Ukrainian players. “We don’t want to punish the individual”, noted in early May Amélie Mauresmo, the director of Roland-Garros, where the Russians were able to evolve under a neutral banner.

Asked about this hybrid position before the start of the tournament, Elina Svitolina, the best Ukrainian player in the ranking, described to Release the atmosphere ” odd “ felt by his compatriots on the circuit: We expected to receive more support (…), few Russian and Belarusian players came to see us or sent us messages. It’s sad. Already before we didn’t have great ties with them, now it’s nothing. »


The return to form of Marin Cilic

“I figured he wasn’t missing much. » Eliminated in the third round of Roland-Garros by Marin Cilic, Gilles Simon greeted on Twitter the new victory of the Croatian, Monday, in the round of 16. Because no one saw coming the correction inflicted in less than two hours by the former world number three (6-2, 6-3, 6-2) to the Russian Daniil Medvedev, second in the ATP ranking. At 33, Cilic reaches a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time since 2018, eight years after his surprise US Open title. “I’m here for a long time”, he warned before his match on Wednesday against Andrey Rublev. The Croatian can see a good run in Paris, in a half of the table where Stefanos Tsitsipas no longer appears, disgusted Monday by the young Danish phenomenon Holger Rune.

→ VIDEO. Who was Roland Garros?



The world of Ukrainian sport turned upside down by the war

Qualify your country for the World Cup and make a country ravaged by war dream. This is the magnitude of the task awaiting the Ukrainian football team, Zbirna, which faces Scotland on Wednesday, June 1. A victory would allow the yellow and blue to glimpse a participation in the world in Qatar at the end of the year, provided they also win the meeting scheduled next against Wales.

→ READ. War in Ukraine, day 98: Washington reinforces its aid, kyiv wants Macron’s visit

The match, originally scheduled for March 24, was postponed due to the Russian invasion of the country. Because like everything else in Ukraine, sporting life has been turned upside down by the missiles and troops poured into the territory by Moscow.

Triumph at the Paralympic Games

It has now been a month since Ukrainian players playing in their league have been training in Slovenia. Many of them did not hide their difficulties in concentrating on the sporting objective, knowing their families and friends within range of Russian weapons. Like them, 3,000 Ukrainian athletes have left their country to train abroad since the start of the war.

“All Ukrainians want only one thing, that this war ends”said Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko in tears. “The Ukrainian team also has its own dream, to go to the World Cup. She wants to give incredible emotions to Ukrainians because they deserve it right now”he added.

Shortly after the start of the war, the Ukrainian Paralympic team achieved a feat at the Winter Games in China. The athletes had managed to win 29 medals, beating their previous record and climbing to second place in the medal table.

Athletes enlisted in the army

The results are not the same in all disciplines. If the tennis player Elina Svitolina had started to donate her bonuses to the Ukrainian army, the former world No. 3 finally gave up playing other tournaments, including that of Roland-Garros. Originally from Odessa, she said to herself “very distressed” by war and have “heart unbearably torn (by) what is happening in (his) homeland”.

→ READ ALSO. The war in Ukraine shakes the world of tennis

Former tennis players have meanwhile joined the armed forces against the soldiers of Moscow. Alexandr Dolgopolov, ex-13th player in the world, Sergiy Stokhovsky, ex-4th ​​and Roger Federer’s scorer at Wimbledon in 2013 or even Andrei Medvedev have taken up arms. A choice also made by former Olympic karate medalist Stanislav Horuna.

Other figures have mobilized to bring life to the world of Ukrainian sport. Pole vaulting legend Sergei Bubka, a long-time world record holder in the discipline, is working with the International Olympic Committee to support athletes. “The work must be done to save the athletes and help them prepare for international competitions so that Ukraine is representedhe told Franceinfo in May. It’s a mission. »

Several athletes have perished since the beginning of the war. Some on the front, others in the bombardments targeting civilians. Among them, two young footballers including a second division goalkeeper, a Ukrainian Olympic biathlon hopeful and a young rugby player.



Roland-Garros: Nadal bends Djokovic and qualifies for the semi-finals

What was left? Extraordinary ? Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had already been last year Porte d’Auteuil, during the four hours of a semi-final immediately ranked in the pantheon of tennis. History? In 58 confrontations between the two men – the most frequent duel of the Open era – the term has already had the opportunity to blacken the pages of sports dailies. Human, perhaps, so much the Spaniard, himself physically diminished this season, seemed to owe his victory to the unconditional support of the public as well as to the flaws of the Serbian world number one, Tuesday, May 31, in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros ( 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6).

If the 59e episode of their rivalry will not have reached the heights of their last confrontation in the Parisian Grand Slam, the stands of the central court were able to appreciate an evening rich in twists and turns. They needed that, and some blankets, to warm up in front of this match scheduled at night, due to the agreement concluded since the 2021 edition between the organization and the Amazon Prime Video channel, which had bought the right to broadcast , every evening, the best poster of the day.

“Djokovic unpinned”

Below his standard at the start of the first three innings, Djokovic could not find enough ball depth to hinder Rafael Nadal from the baseline, giving the Mallorcan the opportunity to show the power of his left arm and gratify the stage of some of its “specials”. The Spanish flags could fly during the first hour and a half of the match on the Philippe-Chatrier court. The time needed for the Serb to line up two consecutive games and then emerge victorious, after 17 minutes, from a crucial sixth game in the second set, allowing him to then pick up the score.

The world number one failed to follow up in the next round, stained with unforced errors, and without further managing to consolidate his lead when he dominated the fourth set. After four hours of play, and while the Serb was beginning to show some signs of detachment, Nadal, he always placed his bottles as one would put his pencils on an examination table. “The pressure was on Djokovic, and he unpinned in the tie-break of the last round”, valid Henri Leconte, joining a few regrets captured in the stands shortly after the match point, hit at 1:15 a.m.

Last Roland-Garros for Nadal?

It must be said that the spectators have once again shouted their attachment to the Spaniard, who has become the master of the place over his thirteen trophies in Paris. “The crowd has been amazing from the start, I think they know it’s the most important tournament of my career and I’m not going to play it for very long yet,” exposed Nadal in a press conference. At 35 (he will be 36 on Friday), the left-hander is having a contrasting season, started in the light in Australia, where he became the most successful player in Grand Slams (21, against 20 for Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer). But that he will have spent the rest of the time, like last season already, treating chronic and incurable foot pain, linked to the so-called degenerative disease of Müller-Weiss. “I am not injured, I am a player who lives with this injury”, he explained during the Rome tournament in early May, where he lost in the round of 16.

“It’s not the first time that, a few days after being injured and barely being able to walk, he’s been able to come back fully fit,” reminded Novak Djokovic to the press after his defeat on Tuesday. After being pushed to the fifth set in the round of 16, and fighting 4:12 to get his hands on his quarter-final, Nadal will advance to the last four on Friday against Alexander Zverev, who ended Tuesday after – noon at the course of the future prodigy of Spanish tennis, Carlos Alcaraz (6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6).