Roger Federer is just three wins away from both a career Grand Slam and joining Pete Sampras as a 14-time major winner, but he’s desperate to avoid sinking beneath a tidal wave of expectations.
With four-time champion Rafael Nadal, who defeated the great Swiss star in the last three finals here, beaten for the first time at Roland Garros, Federer has been widely-tipped to cruise to a first French Open title.
That would make him only the sixth man in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles.
But the 27-year-old insists that Rafa or no Rafa, there is still work to be done on the claycourts, which have, year in, year out, resembled more of a scrapyard for him than a playground.
“I’m used to any kind of a situation, so (Nadal’s defeat) doesn’t affect me in a big way,” said Federer. If he can get past Gael Monfils on Wednesday and then either Juan Martin Del Potro or Tommy Robredo in the semi-finals, he may start thinking that finally the tennis gods, at least those in this south-west corner of Paris, are on his side.
Toni Nadal slams crowd
Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, has called spectators at the Roland Garros tournament in Paris “stupid” for cheering the world number one’s elimination from the event over the weekend.
“I think the Parisian public is so stupid,” he said in an interview with news radio Cadena Ser broadcast late on Monday, one day after Nadal’s four-year Roland Garros reign came to an end at the hands of Sweden’s Robin Soderling.
“The triumph of a Spaniard upsets them. What seems uncalled for is supporting the defeat of someone. It is not a very satisfying way to be happy,” he added.
Tough choice for Cristea
Romanian teenager Sorana Cristea probably won’t have time this week to touch her high school books as she faces Australian Samantha Stosur in a French Open quarter-final.
The 19-year-old is coping with her surprise showing while also completing her studies and travelling the world on the WTA circuit. Despite her transient lifestyle, the smiling Romanian says she tries to keep up a normal school regime. “I’m going to a normal high school with normal classes and the teachers,” she said. “When I’m not there, they know I’m in tournaments.”