Guga and Roland Garros, born for each other
I have a book I bought about Guga and his three wins in Roland Garros. It was written by a reporter from one of our newspapers, and its really cool, since its a compilation of the reports the guy wrote for the daily paper.
As it brings a lot of cool stuff and I would like to share with his fans world wide, Im gonna try to do the translation of the whole thing. Its really big, so it might take a long time.
But I will be posting it in here, in parts as a diary, as soon as I finish each one of them.
I hope its as good a read for you as it was for me, and I also hope I can have enough energy to reach the end. :D
So, good luck to all of us.
And enjoy! :wavey:
The first time I stepped in Roland Garros ground, it was more about pleasure than work. As a member of the O Globo (ps 1) staff, I was in Paris, June 1997, to prepare the infra-structure for the France World Cup work, to happen the next year. After visiting many hotels in small cities around, where the National Team (and consequently the presss) would stay, I took my time during a break to go see some tennis matches on the start of the French Open - Im not really good at it, but Im an enthusiastic amateur tennis player.
I remember as it was today of my meet with friend Chiquinho Leite Moreira, from “Estadão” (ps 2), in the shy seats of Court 6. There Meligeni was, playing argentine Frana. On the court sideways, a kid was wearing a weird t-shirt, and he got my attention:
- Who is the Ray-O-Vac (ps3) player? - I ask, as an irony to his blue and yellow striped uniform.
- Guga. He is brazilian. And he has a bright future ahead - said Chiquinho.
Bright future for a brazilian in tennis?!? As soon as he left the court, I went after him for an interview. There it was starting the story of this book. Guga kept winning and I staying there to watch him.
- Aren´t you going to Nice (where Zagallo´s team (ps 4) was playing France´s Tournament)? - the stunned guys from the newspaper back in Brazil would inquire.
- As soon as the kid loses - I would answer, since something deep inside kept telling me that the real news were there and not on soccer.
You all know what happened after that, and though when I came back to Brazil people kept telling me that I had just witnessed something that would “never happen again”, three years later (2000), I decided to go back to “Rolanga” (ps 5)
- A lightining doesn´t stryke the same place twice - they warned me. Well, but it did! And to have the ultimate challenge on my luck, I came back again in 2001. The result is in the pages that follow. The stories from 1997 and 2000 were already published in the piece I used to write for O GLOBO. The ones from 2001 are brand new, just for this book, that was born from my faith that Guga would keep me unbeatable on my trips to Roland Garros.
And one more thing: I´m seriously considering a shot at the fourth in 2002 (ps 6).
ps 1 - "O Globo" is the name of the newspaper I told you about. Its a very well known one in our country.
ps 2 - "O Estadão" is the name of another newspaper here. :p
ps 3 - I don´t know if Ray-O-Vac is a world wide thing, but it is a type of batteries that used to be sold like water here. :D
It was yellow and blue, in stripes. Thats why he got that joke. lol :o
ps 4 - Mario Jorge Lobo Zagallo, brazilian National Team Soccer coach for that period. He got fired after we lost that "nightmare" World Cup final in 1998. The team was playing a tournament (friendly) in Nice by the time Roland Garros 1997 was going on.
ps 5 - "Rolanga" is a nickname to the tournament. :D
ps 6 - Obviously the reporter couldnt have a clue Guga would get hurt and wouldnt be able to have a real shit at the title this year. I wonder if the guy went there anyway, though. :confused:
Roland Garros 1997 winners
Men´s Singles - Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)
Women´s Sigles - Iva Majoli (CRO)
Men´s Doubles - Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) / Daniel Vacek (CZE)
Women´s Doubles - Gigi Fernandez (USA) / Natasha Zvereva (BEL)
Mixed Doubles - Rika Hiraki (JPN) / Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)
Boys´ Singles - Daniel Elsner (GER)
Girls´ Singles - Justine Henin (BEL)
IN THE YELLOW BALLS KINGDOM
“Allez Fernandô!”(ps 1) “Dá-lhe Guga!” And then it was, among the pumped up brazilian-french crowd, that our tennis players digged up two awesome wins In Roland Garros´ day one. Meligeni - the Fernandô that stunned the french with his fight - beat the argentine Javier Frana in four tough sets: 6/4 6/7(3) 6/4 and 7/5. Guga was faster. He defeted the czech Slava Dosedel in three sets: 6/0 7/5 and 6/4.
Of course that we can´t dream of BIG stuff. But for what they played yesterday, Meligeni and Guga have the right to be a little more positive on their dreams.
In the second round, tomorrow, Fernando will play the belgian Filipe Dewulf - theorically an easier match than Frana. On the other hand, Gustavo will have a much tougher match against the swede Jonas Bjorkman, number 23 in the world.
Meligeni and Guga played, respectively, on courts 6 and 7 - separated by only a small fence, in Roland Garros. That way, we could see both matches at once.
When Guga started the warm up, Meligeni was already playing a second set against Frana. Guga won in three sets, left the court all happy, and by his side, the fight was still going on, ferocious.
- I took a peak, and I was sorry for "Fininho" (ps 2). He was all dirty on the clay, sweating, and the thing was still tough. I thought they would go to a fifth - said Guga.
Kuerten´s win came after 1h35min. Meligeni´s only was over after 2h40min.
Guga was more efficient in therms of offense: he got 36 winners - 26 with the forehand and 10 with the backhand (against his opponent´s 10 and 5). Fernando had 20 winners in the four sets: 15 on the forehand, 5 on the backhand (Frana had 24 total, 23 on the forehand, 1 on the backhand).
Also in the serves Guga was better: 8 aces, against 2 from his rival, while Meligeni had 5 and took 10.
In total, Guga needed to win 93 points (vs 74) to win the match. Fernando had 148 (vs 130) to garantee his win.
Meligeni, as usually, was brilliant saving balls that looked like imposible. Frana was mixing hard hit balls with his forehand with deep slices with his backhand. Sometimes he volleyed short, sometimes deep, but when the point seemed to be over, the brazilian would come back with an miracle counterpunch - like a topspin lob after Frana hit four times from the net:
- My tactic was the simpliest: hit the balls very deep, if possible to his backhand. He did more or less the same, but I had less mistakes - summarized "Fininho".
After his vicory, Gustavo Kuerten relaxed playing a car simulator videogame, with a french friend on the players´ restaurant. He won and left as happy as a little kid:
- I am 20, but I feel like a 16 year-old boy!
Guga´s happiness had two main reasons to be: first, defeat Slava Dosedel for the first time and an equalizing of his best Grand Slam result:
- I had already lost to him twice, and if I did it again, it would be too bad. The 6/0 in the first set was decisive, and I got a delicious revenge. And even better for it being in Roland Garros.
Untill now, Guga had only reached the second round of a Grand Slam once - in this year´s Australian Open, he won the first match and lost the second. In Roland Garros last year, he won the qualifying but crashed out in the first round.
Meligeni has a batter record: reached the fourth round in '93 and the third in '95:
- I am always lucky on the odd years here. Who knows if I can go past the fourth round this year??
In '94 and '96, Fernando lost in the first round.
At least in the first round, the american Pete Sampras survived. Healed from a problem in his leg, he breezed through the french Fabrice Santoro (who had beaten him twice on clay) and won 6/3 7/5 and 6/1.
Although he had some bizzarre errors on easy volleys, Sampras was a show on center court. Even the french crowd, who did everything to support their local fave, had to stand up to applaude the third set, in which Pete was just stunning.
On match point, Pete got the french on the run with a volley, that made Santoro crash to the floor, to a "Grand Finale" tipical of the World Number One.
Today is the day to watch Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis. The german starts against the argentine Paola Suarez, while Hingis faces slovakian Henrieta Nagyova. The expectations for a match between the two stars is still growing.
Almost without noise, Monica Seles was awesome in her first match: she demolished japanese Miho Saeki with a 6/0 6/3 win. And the french crowd´s eternal hope Mary Pierce almost let it go to the russian Tatiana Panova. She won in a tight 6/2 4/6 and 6/4 win and left the court with a crying face. As always.
Another one who had problems winning was the austrian Thomas Muster. He had a hard time to beat the german Marc Goellner in a 4/6 7/6 6/2 6/7 and 6/4 win. He left the court with his trademark "I don´t have friends" face...
Two honor guests in Roland Garros stands: Leonardo and Rai, cheered as heroes after yesterday´s tough win on the soccer, which put the Paris Saint German team into the European Champion´s League.
Do you know how much the winner of Roland Garros will get? The "modic" amount of 3.6 million francs (US$ 705 thousand!). Meligeni and Kuerten, for reaching the second round, already got US$ 17 thousand each.
And to think I only started playing tennis after my 30s...
ps 1 - Fernandô - That sign over the O in the end marks the tonic part of the word, in a way we brazilians would represent the way french people pronounce Fernando. :p ;)
ps 2 - Meligeni´s nickname. He is called Fino or Fininho, both coming from him being so THIN. FINO would mean something like that in portuguese.
Wow, hitman!! Thanks for the entries so far, this sounds like an exciting yet ambitious project. I've liked the two pages I've seen so far ;)
lol, yeah, its austrian. :p In portuguese we say it "austriaco" thats where the mess came from. Thanks! :D Ill edit.
You know, up until maybe a week ago, I thought English was your first language. You are much better at English than I am at Spanish (ugh, I hated taking that) or Russian (well, just one year so far :o) ;)
Thanks Hackie :D :kiss:
New part of the storie follows:
I walk through the ways of Roland Garros, absent minded, when I see one of those chin-falling brunettes. I take a couple of steps and then I realize: it´s her! Gabriela Sabatini. I turn back, running, still in time to catch her before she entered the stands. The chat is very quick, but delicious. Ah, Gabi, Gabi, we all miss you so much! Don´t you miss the courts?
Sabatini opens a smile capable of melting in a second the whole iceberg that sank Titanic and convincingly says that no:
- I came for some business reasons, and it´s great to see the friends again. But about playing again, no way!
While se tells me that her current main occupation is shooting commercials for perfurms and classic and sports fashion modeling, the fans that won´t forget her take pictures, wave and even kiss her. Time flies, she´s in a hurry, but I still have to time to ask one more thing:
- Graf or Hingis?
With that angelic way, and at the same time evil, she kills it with one word:
Ah, Gabi, Gabi...
Fernando Meligeni and Gustavo Kuerten come back to the court today. In theory, Meligeni´s chances are bigger than Guga´s.
Filip Dewulf, Fernando´s opponent, is the world number 124, and however he beat the brazilian on their last two matchups, that happened more than three years ago, while the belgian was still among the 50 best players in the world.
Jonas Bjorkman, to play against Guga, is on the top of his form (right now he is ranked at number 23) and has an aggressive, tough-to-crack style.
In the current season, though, both Guga and Meligeni have beaten top ranked players. Guga defeated Andre Agassi and Meligeni prevailed against Michael Chang. It´s gonna be tough, but we can always cheer.
The french people´s love for tennis is so big that, in the last issue of "L´Equipe Magazine", its readers put Roland Garros´ final as the first among the best sports events they would like to watch.
The Parisien Grand Slam tournament had 37% of the votes. In second place came the European Champions League (soccer) with 35% and in third the Monaco GP of Formula One, with 34%. Watching a match from France´s National Soccer Team (warming up for the World Cup next year) came in a modicum eigth place with 18% of the choices.
Steffi Graf had a walk in the park with her last match. She beat the argentine Paola Suarez in a 6/1 6/4 match in which she didn´t have troubles.
Martina Hingis started against the weak czech Henrieta Nagyova, winning in a 6/0 6/2. [ps - some stupid lame comments on women and their microskirts combined with the wind... :rolleyes: Hingis and Kournikova are in the sentence. Then he makes a smart-assed comment on Venus and the irony of her name compared to her beauty. Well, every book NEEDS to have a lame part, isn´t it? :o]
Both won their first round matches and they are the big hopes of the women´s tennis these days. Anna Kournikova was junior world champion in 1995. Venus Williams is seen, in the States, as a Tiger Woods of tennis.
If she wins one more match, Kournikova would have to face the world number one Martina Hingis. Venus Williams, in the case of a new victory, would have Monica Seles in her way.
"Tennis Magazine" reveals that former world number one John McEnroe got married again in the last March the 23rd, to his girlfriend Patty Smith (Tatum O´Neals´ successor). The ceremony was in Haway.
Love for some, pain for others. The same magazine declares that Martina Navratilova is no longer with the german young model Hunter Reno. They lived together for one year.
You can find anything on the sofisticated stores of Roland Garros. The best-sellers are, naturally, the sports clothes. A beautiful jogging, with the tournament´s logomark, can be bought for 380 francs (around US$ 76). A T-shirt costs US$ 30 and a polo shirt, US$ 50. A cap, one of the lowest prices, is at US$ 24.
The tickets to Center Court were worth, yesterday - second day of competition - 500 francs (almost US$ 100), with an adjustment up of about 100 francs from the original price. For the final, a ticket can go up to US$ 2000 in the black market.
It was the seventh match point. All of them for Guga. On the other side of the court, the swede Jonas Bjorkman came with a big serve once again. This time, Guga had a good return. A quick exchange of groundstrokes and Guga hit an approaching shot, with the forehand, very deep. Jonas´ attempt at a passing shot had too much power. Out! Great and well deserved win for Kuerten: 6/4 6/2 4/6 and 7/5.
The unexpected, yet very welcome, result was the happiness of the small brazilian crowd, who by the morning got frustrated by Fernando Meligeni´s loss - to that point considered the favorite to defeat Dewulf.
And if Meligeni match was bad, Guga´s was almost all about happiness.
The 'almost' comes because of the third set turn around. Kuerten was already leading two sets to love, 4/1 and had a break point on the opponent´s serve. He couldn´t acknowledge the break, and worst, got broke on 4/2. The swede got pumped up, and had a quick come back to win the set 6/4.
The confident Guga from the two first sets, though, came back for the fourth. But then he already had someone wanting to prove to him why he was among the top 25 by the other side. And they held serves untill Guga lead at 6/5. Bjorkman had to serve, under extreme pressure.
Guga got the first point, the swede tied at 15. Guga got the 15/30, Jonas got the tie again. The advantage and match point came, but the opponent saved it on a huge serve, causing a bad return.
And there the advantages, deuces and another match-point, for Guga. After a long rally, Gustavo went to the net, and Jonas´ lob was too short. My friend Antonio Carlos de Almeida Braga, aka "Braguinha", got up to celebrate, but Guga blew the overhead, almost killing the brazilians cheering for him.
Then they all came, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth match points (God!), all saved especially due to Bjorkman´s great serve. Jonas also had six opportunities to get the set to the tiebreak, but he was always stopped by Guga´s firm groundstrokes.
In the seventh, though, he couldn´t do it. After 2h37 min of match, brazilian party on Rolanga´s Court Three. The expectations now surround the match with the world Number Five Thomas Muster, clay specialist and Roland Garros´ winner in 1995. It will be a toughie, none doubts that. But after yesterday´s marvelous match, we can´t doubt anymore.
In the press conference after the match, Guga was like a kid after seeing Santa Claus. Sincere, he said:
- I thought the match would be tougher. To tell the truth, I didn´t expect to play so well. Even the shots I usually have problems with were perfect today. I would hit anything, coming any way, and it would go back and in. The forehand and the serve were just *wow*!
About Muster, a humoured comment:
- I saw him play so many times that I can tell you I know him very well. He, on the other hand, doesn´t have a clue on who I am. It is a good thing, isn´t it?
Remembering he should have played the austrian during the last Davis Cup (Muster was fuming with the brazilian crowd and defaulted the doubles match, before the one against Guga), Guga was joking with the international press.
- Maybe he runs away again?
Speaking seriously again, he said bye with a good spirit remark:
- I never played so well and never felt so confident before. I think I can face anyone here and I won´t be easy for them.
A good example of Guga´s superiority can be taken from the match scout. Guga had 39 winner (29 forehand, 10 backhand) against 28 from Bjorkman (17 forhand, 11 backhand). The brazilian had 12 aces against 6. Guga won 152 total points, Bjorkman had 130.
Meligeni went to court Three to cheer on Gustavo, but he was clearly sad. In his match against Filip Dewulf, he practically couldn´t see the ball during the first two sets, "he was perfect", he would say later.
During sets three and four, Meligeni had one of those epic comebacks, his trademark. He started the fifth set serving, and after getting a 30/0 lead, he let it go to 30/30. Then he had a 40/30, but blew an easy ball, and the opponent turned it all around and broke his serve.
Dewulf got up 3/0, Meligeni took it back to 3/2, but the belgian held on untill the 5/3 lead, where he got another break to win 6/3, after three hours of match.
A good picture of that match was given by Meligeni himself in one of the yellings he had during the match, frustrated:
- Damn, will this bastard keep on hitting like that? S**t! - he said, desperate (with some spicier words, with that same sense)
The "bastard" was really too much. He hit a drop shot during the match that bounced on Fernando´s side of the court and came back to his´ before Meligeni could touch it.
- S**t! (or almost that...) repeated Meligeni.
There wasn´t much more to be said...
Even losing in the next round, Steffi Graf gathered a big enough prize money to be the second women on history to break the US$ 20 million in prize money barrier. Untill now, only the super-champion and retired Martina Navratilova could do that.
Sampras didn´t take notice of Clavet: 6/1 6/2 6/2. Is the name of the new champion flashing?
THE PRINCESS AND THE GODDESS
It was very close. Shaky, without confidence and irritated about her own game, the world´s new tennis princess, Martina Hingis, was a step from being ousted on round two of Roland Garros. She lost the first set 3/6, was down 3/4 in the second (and receiving) and she wasn´t sent home earlier only because the italian Gloria Pizzichini (ranked 75th) choked to close the match.
Choked so badly that she lost the set 6/4, without Hingis having a single hand in it (almost all the points were on unforced errors). In the third, the italian was totally out of it, and Hingis took control: 6/1.
Hingis, though, was the first to acknowledge her terrible day - she argued with the referees and tossed her racquet to the floor many times. Now she will have to face one of the tournament´s sensations: the beautiful russian Anna Kournikova (junior world champion in 1995), who breezed through the italian Sandra Secchini 6/2 6/2 yesterday.
At 15 years old, one less than Hingis, Kournikova is impressing for her beauty and the power of her game. She hits it hard both sides, and follows to the net naturally, volleying with precision.
And though it can sound weird, the fave for tomorrow´s match, considering what they played yesterday, is a sculptural goddess with her hair in a braid falling to her waist: Kournikova.
Venus Williams, the other up-and-comer, fell along the way. She lost yesterday to the french veteran Nathalie Tauziat, giving the match with a double fault on match point.
Larri Passos, Guga´s coach, is an adept of the "neurolinguistic" (ps 1). At the end of each match, he gets in the locker room with Guga and they stay there for at least half an hour remembering the best plays:
- About the mistakes, we don´t even talk. Later, yes, I try to make it better what I´ve seen as a flaw. But everything without him even noticing. What I want is that Guga has every time more pleasure playing tennis. If he likes to play, he will play better. Therefor, I like to center our talks on what´s good and not in what´s bad.
Larri believes in a win against Muster:
- Which kid doesn´t dream day and night about beating one of the top ten players in the world? Everyone dies for a match versus a top ten and we are making ours true exactly in Roland Garros. We already know exactly what to do, since we studied many times his game, including for that Davis Cup match that never happened. Of course it will be very tough. But it´s not impossible.
What´s needed to beat someone who is among the five top players and one of the best on clay in the tour? Speaks Paulo Cleto, brazilian Davis Cup head coach.
- To beat Muster you need an excelent serve - and that´s something Guga definitely has. Also, you need great groundstrokes - and that´s another one of the highs on Guga´s game. The most important, though, is the consistency. And that´s going to be Kuerten´s biggest chalenge.
Cleto is in Roland Garros only as an observer, and he is liking what he´s seen untill now:
- Guga is wonderful, but against Muster he can´t make mistakes. A little loss of focus and that´s it! He´s gone. The rest is about playing to his backhand and trying to avoid the rocket his drive is.
Muster, who got a nickname Horse for his wonderful physicall preparation, is now being called the Orc (ps 2) because of his terrible mood.
In his match with Jeff Tarango, second round, he didnt shake hands with him by the end of the match, shocking the frenchs while breaking a secular etiquette rule of tennis.
Knowing about the bad humour of the austrian, Tarango exhagerated: served underhand, immitated all of his opponent´s moves, and for just little didnt make Muster cross the court to punch him. Anyway, the orc won 3-1.
Meligeni and Kuerten struggled, but they won the first match of the doubles draw. They beat the venezuelan Nicolas Pereira and the american Jeff Tarango 6/1 4/6 8/6.
After an easy first set for the brazilians, the opponents won the second and had a 6/5 with serve in the third set. Not easily, Guga and Fernando broke the serve and got it to 8/6.
Cassio Motta, former brazilian tennis player, arrived yesterday in Roland Garros. One of the best Grand Slams performance was here, when he was leading Henri Leconte in 1986´s fourth round with 2 sets to love. He had two matchpoints during the third set tiebreak, but he couldn´t win it, and lost the focus with a call. He lost the match, with a double bagel on sets four and five.
About the confrontation against Muster, Motta is very objective:
- Guga can win. He is playing very well and Muster is playing very bad. It´s just a matter of playing relaxed and go get him.
1. "Neurolinguistic": I dont know if thats the correct word for it, but its something in which you try only to speak about the positive aspects of the performance. :p
2. They called him something else, but with a similar meaning. As I cant seem to find a way to express that thing, this other one will work fine.
Some stupid comments once again, but oh well :rolleyes:
Next entry: A wonder kid kicks Muster´s ass. :D
“How is this possible? I´m playing my best tennis and this kid is killing me!”
Thomas Muster, screaming after another crosscourt backhand winner from Guga.
“If he keeps playing like this, you can all write there, this kid will be soon one of the best in the world.”
Thomas Muster, in the press conference
THE MUSTER EXECUTION
What was thought to be impossible, at some point in the match it gave the impression it would be easy. Just impression, of course. Gustavo Kuerten was winning, 2 sets to 1, he had four break points on Muster´s serve to score 3/1 in the fourth set, but the austrian bounced back, winning the game and the set, taking it all to the fifth.
Worse: in the decisive set, the world number 5 had an early break to a 3-0 lead. Everything down the drain? No. Taking power God-knows-from-where, Guga came back and won what himself defined as “the match of my life” – 6/7(3), 6/1, 6/3, 3/6 and 6/4, after a marathon of 3 hours and 8 minutes.
With a spot into the fourth round of Roland Garros garanteed – the round of 16 - Gustavo Kuerten will now face the ukranian Andrei Medvedev, 23rd in the ranking. Medvedev, though, was already ranked number 6 in the ATP and is always considered one of the most dangerous opponents on clay. He comes from a win in a Super Nine, in Hamburg, and is in great form – he beat the french Nicolas Escude yesterday, 7/6(2), 6/4 and 6/3.
- It´s gonna be another tough one, but it´s a match with different characteristics. Medvedev plays a step into the court, attacking with flat balls and trying to finish the point early. Muster uses more spin, and that gives more time to the opponent – analysed Guga.
Analysis that deserves respect, facing what him and his coach, Larri Passos, had to show to Muster. Everybody, Thomas himself included, were waiting that Guga would come in forcing the game to the opponent´s backhand. That´s not exactly what happened. In the first four games (2/2 no breaks), Guga was hitting a lot to Muster´s forehand. And he finished lots of points with crosscourt backhand angles – exactly to the opponents “brightest side”.
In the sixth game, however, Muster got the first break and got to a 5/2 lead. Guga bounced back to tie it in 6, but then lost the tiebreak 7/3.
The confidence was already there, though. In the second set, Kuerten had an unbelievable 5/0 lead and Thomas Muster could barely fight off the bagel, playing a whole game with serve and volley (against his game skills). Not even that could shake Gustavo. He closed it in 6/1 and got into the third full of confidence.
He broke Muster already in the opening game, got a 2/0 lead on serve, and kept that edge to win it 6/3 with another break in the end. The suffering was about to start: Guga reached 2/1 in the fourth set, but he lost several break points and the austrian came back from death winning it 6/3 with two breaks. Gustavo would lose his serve yet again, in the fifth set (Muster led 3/0), but an outstanding game – the fourth, won to love – gave him the confidence back.
The break and the tie (3/3) followed and after a new tie (4/4)., Guga and Muster, both exhausted, fought like titans for the ninth game. In the third break point, Kuerten broke and went to serve on 5/4. Full of confidence and playing a speechless and physically drained, Guga closed the match with another game to love. Hand to Kuerten´s direction, Muster said still in the court:
- You played out of this world, kid. You deserved.
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