Tramlines

A day of heart at Roland Garros

Tramlines

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It's rare that Tramlines goes for the
straight line on something, instead preferring the heavily sarcastic response.

But for once sarcasm is the last thing
that is called for as TL wants to pay a genuinely heart-felt tribute to
Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.

Eight days ago, the 28-year-old's coach
and fiancé, Stephane Vidal, died after a lengthy battle with a brain tumour.

And, in spite what must be an
overwhelming grief, Razzano fulfilled his last wishes by turning out for her
first round match against 24th seed Jarmila Gajdosova.

Razzano lost in straight sets but just
making the start of the tournament is something to be admired in TL's, and we
are sure many other people's, opinion.

"Me playing here was a decision from
my fiancé," she said in a press conference after her match.

"He wanted me to continue my life. He
wanted me to play here and keep fighting on the court. With my family and
friends here and the public, I tried my best to keep my emotions and play for
him. It took me a lot of courage to go on Court Philippe Chatrier. It was
difficult for me to be here. It was painful, it was hard, but I did it for
Stéphane.

"He had faith in me. He knew I had
this strength he also had, and this is why we worked so well together. We had
courage. We fought together day after day.

"I used all my courage today. I
don't have much. I'm very fragile. I feel lonely, and even though there are
many people around me supporting me, I still have strength in me that keeps me
standing up and moving on step by step.

"It's difficult, especially when you
lose someone who was - and who will forever be - the man of my life, whom I
love and will always love. I have beautiful memories in good times and not so
good times. It's a history that's alive, that we built together for 11 years.
And I'll continue to build it through my sport, through my passion, tennis, which
gives me courage and mental strength.

"I worked on my schedule with
Stéphane all the way to Wimbledon. I said
I'll play Birmingham,
then I would come back home to be with him, and he said, 'We'll see.' He was
already feeling things might turn out differently.

"But he said I have to play Roland
Garros and Wimbledon. These were two
important tournaments for him. Then afterwards, I have no schedule yet. I don't
know. I'll try to recover fast, because I've lost a lot of weight because of
stress and many other things. I want to take time to mourn, then get back on
court."

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Tramlines is not going to dwell too much
on Rafael Nadal's battling first round; everyone else is already doing it.

Yes, he got pushed to five sets for the first
time since he made his debut at Roland Garros in 2005. And yes, he came dangerously close to losing
back-to-back clay court matches for the first time in his professional career.

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Clearly the Spaniard is lacking a little
of the confidence that we have come to know and respect in him. After four
straight defeats in finals to man-of-the-moment Novak Djokovic, and particularly
the two on clay, that is only to be expected.

And Nadal admitted as much himself,
saying after the match: "I was close to be out. I was too nervous in the
2nd and 3rd set tie-breaks.

"The turning point was the break in
the 4th set. After that I started to feel more confident"

But, John Isner's performance is not overlooked
either.

The American is fast becoming the iron
man of men's tennis as he continues to produce outstanding displays in unlikely
situations.

In the end though, the world number one's
mentality and sheer determination won through and Spaniard survives to push
through to what TL hopes will be a Nadal-Djokovic final in another 12 days
time.

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TWEET OF THE DAY: "Taking
a trip on the metro on my todd to meet family for dinner... No idea where I'm
going!" If Andy Murray hasn't' turned up by tomorrow morning, can
someone please alert the Gendarmerie to his whereabouts in a maze of tunnels
under the city.

RALLY OF THE DAY: With
Nadal serving for the match, John Isner was still in impressively formidable
form, forcing the Spaniard to draw on every last reserve at 30-30. A rally that
involved every inch of the baseline and well over 20 strokes eventually ended
when Nadal just beat the wingspan of the American provided a barn-storming
finish to a match that had been thrilling throughout. And it left Isner saying
he felt like he needed "oxygen"!

MATCH TO WATCH ON DAY FOUR: After a
quite frankly shocking run of form in this section during the Australian Open,
when TL failed miserably to successfully predict a single upset, it was pleased
to at least pick the right match to watch on day three (although let's face it,
it wasn't that hard!).

Tomorrow, however, it's a little
trickier. It's hard to see where any upset could come from, but TL thinks it's
found it's most likely candidate.

World number three Vera Zvonareva has
made great strides in consistently in the last couple of years but she is still
prone to the odd lapse in concentration. And Sabine Lisicki is not an easy opponent.
The German was ranked at 22 in the world after reaching the Wimbledon
quarter-finals in 2009 before injury decimated her 2010 season.

Lisicki has been on the comeback trail
recently though and a quarter-final appearance in Stuttgart, where she lost to
eventual champion Julia Georges, could be just the boost she needs to kick on
and challenge the top players once again.

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