Roland Garros – one for all ?
It is enough for only one Frenchman to realize a spectacularly tournament, like Gaël Monfils last year, for Roland Garros to vibrate along. But at a few hours of the beginning of the 2009 edition, French tennis and its new-musqueteers are worrying. Who will surprise us and write history ?
« Musqueteers, musqueteers ! Do I seriously look like a bloody Musqueteer to you ? » You would need to quote Arletty in the movie Hôtel du Nord to have an idea of the atmosphere reigning around Roland Garros’ grounds, three days before the beginning of the tournament. A few days after the bomb of the Gasquet Affair, after a clay season where the most awaited Frenchmen shined by their shocking defeats, and considering the worrying health of Gaël Monfils, perplexity is complete. What happened to the happy and shining young men of the beginning of the season, posing together for the photographers and nicknamed by the most nostalgics ones as the heirs of Lacoste, Cochet, Borotra and Brugnon ? Some genius and promising moments, the Davis Cup, and then the racquets hit it in the water. (I don’t know how to translate to joke here : the author writes « des coups de raquette dans l’eau » which means what I translated but also refers to « des coups d’épée dans l’eau » which means hits of sword in the water, idiomatic expression to say much efforts were done for nothing. But it also refers to the musqueteers with the sword
After France’s defeat against Czech Republic, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gaël Monfils and Richard Gasquet are paddling on the haze platform. (« quai des brumes », another reference to the Musqueteers.) After the beginning of the clay season, you had to look at the minor tournaments of Munich and Estoril to find French quarterfinalists : Simon and Serra in Portugal, Mathieu and Chardy in Germany. It’s not a lot when you remember of this winter’s euphory.
The results of January were indeed promising that each tournament would highlight a French representative. Everyone was beginning to dig up the Musqueteers mythology when, curiously, Davis Cup broke up everything. Simon isn’t there anymore, Monfils is injured, Tsonga is fumbling and Gasquet is suspended. It is now time to forget the missing roofs and let the game in the place.
RICHARD GASQUET’S CASE
Gasquet is a modern d’Artagnan. Perfect antihero of the New Musqueteers legend that we’re trying to write at all cost after every move of the best French players. The one who realizes sensational shots then the one by whom scandal enters the place, he’s impersonating tennis for the best and the worst, in Henri Leconte’s tradition. This D’Artagnan doesn’t save any French Federation queen and is looking for a destiny, between a Team Lagardère Rastignac (another character of the book) and a Frédéric Moreau fate written by Yannick Noah. (I have no idea what he means by that
Summing up today, Gasquet is literature. Press articles, antidoping laws, ITF notes forbidding him to enter the tournament’s grounds because of his suspension. Next chapter : an audience in front of the antidoping law course of the International Federation before mid-July.
THERE IS MORE THAN THE MUSQUETEERS
Paul-Henri Mathieu, Jérémy Chardy, Julien Benneteau, Florent Serra, Marc Gicquel are the Frenchmen who didn’t have their quotas of superlatives in the press yet, but are the most regular players behind the stars à la française. In Roland Garros, they will try to make people forget about the actual doldrums, or more simply, to make themselves some room at the top of the poster. Julien Benneteau will challenge Tsonga after an excellent tournament in Kitzbuhel. A good opportunity for him to exist publicly, after having reached the quarters in Roland Garros in 2006. Mathieu will himself have to close the door to a lower-ranked Frenchman : Laurent Recouderc, who’s having a good run on the Challengers tournaments this year with a win in Rabat. Mathieu only needs a good run in a Grand Slam tournament to join the four biggest stars.
Amongst the apprentices New Musqueteers, we will first mention Jéméry Chardy, who has everything of the romantic fencer (
) His results this year confirm his potential but he now has to do better than last year, which won’t be easy : he had beaten Nalbandian and scared an excellent Almagro. A crazy objective ? Playing Federer in the 4th round. Then, you have Josselin Ouanna who realized a great Metz tournament in 2008 and possesses an aggressive tennis which should be very appreciated in Paris. In a more obscure way, Nicolas Devilder wants to win his first round after playing Nadal in the second round last year.
For Romain Jouan, Guillaume Rufin and Adrian Mannarino, the first match will already be a bonus. For Alexandre Sidorenko, here is a magnificent opportunity to make himself a name : he who is from Russia will play on the biggest court against a very classy player who once had a very seventeenth century beard and salutes his opponent’s best show by putting his short on his ankles (in 2004) : Marat Safin.
How many Musqueteers in the second week this year ? The tendancy isn’t optimistic, but the lovers of Alexandre Dumas can be reassured, tennis is doing all it can to perpetuate the life of its book The Three Musqueteers and the famous saying « one for all, all for one ».