Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Murray v Federer as it happened

Flushing Meadows, 25 August-7 September

 

US Open

Final result:

R FEDERER (Swi) bt A MURRAY (GB)

6-2 7-5 6-2

 

 

 

 

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

 

By Caroline Cheese

 

0025: I know it wasn’t the result many of you were hoping for, but you have to give it to King Fed. The Swiss mister showed flashes of genius tonight and Murray – only 24 hours after beating the world number one – wasn’t quite there. Lay off him, though. No one beats Nadal and Federer in the same tournament. It’s tennis law. Murray will win a Grand Slam title. There, I said it. Thanks for your company tonight. Off to bed with you.

0021: “As much as I love Murray’s style of play, Federer deserved to win it tonight for his overall performance over the past fortnight, but Andy’ll be back I’m sure.”
xenosys2005 on 606

0019: Rog has won a car for his efforts but I think he’s more bothered by getting his hands on that sparkly trophy. For the fifth year in a row, Federer is the US Open champion. He is the first man in history to win both the Wimbledon and US Open titles five times in a row and the first since 1924 to win five on the trot in New York.

0018: Here comes “history-making Roger Federer “, as he is introduced by our super-enthusiastic announcer. “It definitely feels great,” says Rog. “After this year, to take this home is incredible. It means the world to me. I’m not going to stop at 13 – that would be terrible! I congratulate Andy – he’s done great these last two weeks. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of him in the future.”

0015: Andy Murray gives the crowd a forlorn wave as he comes to collect his runners-up trophy. “I had a great tournament but I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play game today. I got the better of him the last two times and he definitely set the record straight today. I’ve learnt I’ve got a lot of improving to do if I want to win one of these things. I love playing in front of this crowd – it’s been the best time of my life.”

0012: The Stars and Stripes are waving in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, along with the flags of Switzerland and Great Britain – which still looks rather nice actually. Bit of bla-bla to go before we get to the presentation.

0011: “Not too shabby from Fed. Great to see him get number five, well-deserved, and a nice cap on what has been for him a disappointing hard-court run. Murray very gracious, and gave it a good go, coming back from what looked like being blanked in the third.”
Im_partial on 606

0009: Federer’s experience told in that final, the world number two delivering when it counted – in particular in that closely-fought second set. Murray couldn’t quite produce his best, but not many players do in their first Grand Slam final. He will be back.

0007: “Federer was simply awesome. Unlucky Andy, you have a lot of years ahead of you.”
Andrew, Edinburgh, via text on 81111

Murray 2-6 5-7 2-6 Federer
Murray refuses to concede defeat and is fuming as he puts a lob narrowly long. Federer’s forehand puts him two points away from the title – but Murray responds with a sizzling backhand down the line and Fed sees his forehand go wide after hitting the tape. An errant backhand gives Murray game point but Fed pounces on a weak second serve to make it deuce and a Murray error gives Fed his first championship point. Two brave, brilliant volleys from Murray save it but Fed earns another with a brutal backhand. The crowd don’t want this to end – but it has. Murray scampers around the back of the court sending up lob after lob but Fed puts him away in the end, falling onto the court as he celebrates his 13th Grand Slam title, his first for a year and his fifth US Open in a row.

2358: “Federer has been top class but you can’t help but feel like Murray’s time is yet to come in the sport.”
Anon via text on 81111

Murray 2-6 5-7 2-5 Federer
Hold the back page. Murray powers away a forehand winner to bring up a break point and then a searing return makes Fed net. Who wrote him off? Come on, own up.

Murray 2-6 5-7 1-5 Federer
Three cheers. Murray gets a huge roar from the crowd as he puts in a massive effort to hold serve for the first time in the set.

2352: “I think Roger will pass Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams now. I can’t see how he won’t get two more in the rest of his career.”
Jeff Tarango on BBC Radio 5 Live

Murray 2-6 5-7 0-5 Federer
The crowd aren’t enjoying this much. Murray looks completely spent. Federer, though, deserves all the praise in the world. Grand Slam number 13 is a game away.

Murray 2-6 5-7 0-4 Federer
I can’t watch. A double fault puts Federer 0-30 up and a poor backhand into the net gives the world number two three break points. Murray trots to the net in very unconvincing fashion and doesn’t seem at all surprised to see the backhand flashing past him. This could be over very quickly.

2346: “Unfortunately, Federer really seems to have got his game back together at the moment. Nadal wouldn’t have had any answer for this either.”
cilurnum on 606

Murray 2-6 5-7 0-3 Federer
Murray looks to bounce back, engaging Federer in a mesmerising rally from the baseline – but then ruins all his good work by belting a backhand long. No matter, a sizzling forehand forces Federer into his zillionth volley error of the match. The world number two survives from deuce, but good battling from Murray.

Murray 2-6 5-7 0-2 Federer
Federer plays Murray at his own game, a delicate drop shot leaving his opponent flat-footed. Federer places a simple pass cross-court to bring up three break points. Murray puts a tame forehand into the net and that’s a break to love. The 21-year-old now has a mountain ahead of him – and he looks far too weary to climb it.

Murray 2-6 5-7 0-1 Federer
Just three sets, Andy, just three. Fed holds to 15.

SECOND SET

2335: “My days!!! Roger just played the best game ever man!! Whoa!!!”
intellectualAdam on 606

Murray 2-6 5-7 Federer
Good start from Federer, whipping a forehand into the corner to make it 0-15, and it gets better, the champion finally nailing a decent volley. Murray’s first serve deserts him at the worst possible time and Federer chip-charges to bring up three set points. An absolutely scintillating rally ends with Federer chasing down a drop shot and sending his forehand down the line. The world number two punches the air with delight – and I think he senses title number five.

2330: “Come on Murray, do it for us people on night shifts… You’re adding a lot of fun to a very tedious work place! I cant think of anything better than seeing you wipe the smile off that smug Federer’s face!”
Laura, Ipswich, via text on 81111

Murray 2-6 5-6 Federer
Murray wins the point of the match so far, running back to collect a Federer lob before rocking the world number two with a brutal forehand onto the baseline. He had no right to win that point. Fed shanks a backhand and that’s 30-30. Murray’s return is called long – to gasps from the crowd – but the Brit doesn’t challenge. Strange.

Murray 2-6 5-5 Federer
Murray batters his head with his racquet after a loose forehand into the trams on the first point, but the British number one recovers brilliantly with a backhand winner. Federer goes walkabout again and that allows Murray to come through quite comfortably.

Murray 2-6 4-5 Federer
At 15-15, Murray steps in for a forehand with the whole court at his mercy – but blasts it long. Murray responds with a brilliant cross-court pass, although Fed’s approach shot was poor, but the champion hangs on and the pressure is right back on the Brit now.

2318: “How about printing a message from a Federer fan for a change? Come on Roger – you’re the best there’s ever been!”
Anon via text on 81111

Murray 2-6 4-4 Federer
During that changeover, the crowd are treated to pictures of actress Charlize Theron snogging her boyfriend on the big screen. Back to the tennis though. Murray is still clutching his knee from time to time, but he’s keeping his focus. The 21-year-old races into a 40-0 lead before taking it to 15 with a second-serve ace.

2314: “I think Andy is figuring it out…”
mexito on 606

Murray 2-6 3-4 Federer
Murray attacks the Federer forehand and is rewarded when the ball hits the net. That’s 15-30 but he then shanks a forehand disastrously. “Noooooooooo,” screams the Scot. Fed gets the forehand back on track and the second seed sneaks ahead in the set again.

Murray 2-6 3-3 Federer
Murray clutches his knee and hops about a bit after every point. Bit worrying. Still, the Brit holds to 15 – in part thanks to another shocker of a volley from Federer. The world number two looks like he has never been to net.

2306: “Murray needs to stay positive. He missed a few break points but if they keep coming, he’ll get one. He just needs to concentrate on popping in a few big serves as he has done in the last few service games.”
Pat Cash on BBC Radio 5 Live

Murray 2-6 2-3 Federer
Federer goes spectacularly off the boil. He puts a routine backhand volley in the net and that’s three more break points for Murray. Fed, though, comes right back. Powering groundstrokes onto the baseline, he saves the first two before somehow winning the third despite some very shaky volleying. The defending champion survives by the skin of his teeth. Might be a very big game that.

Murray 2-6 2-2 Federer
Billie Jean King, wearing some delightful 60s-style sunglasses, is studiously reading something. Shame. She’s missing some good tennis here. Murray seems to have come to the party, while Federer is still showing flashes of brilliance. Murray polishes off the game with the old one-two: a big serve and the easy put-away off the short ball.

Murray 2-6 1-2 Federer
Hello. Hello! Welcome to the US Open final, Andy Murray. He steps in to spank a forehand return cross-court and then hammers a backhand so hard that Fed nets his volley. Break back.

2252: “Murray hangs in. That’s what he does very well – and Federer will miss a few balls. He’s not superhuman anymore.”
Pat Cash on BBC Radio 5 Live

Murray 2-6 0-2 Federer
The crowd have gone a bit quiet and you sense that if Murray can find some inspiration, they might just get behind the Brit. Federer, though, just looks awesome. He races into a 0-30 lead on the Murray serve and it’s almost a shock when Fed sticks a backhand wide. Murray clenches his fist as he forces another error, but then a shanked forehand lets Fed back in. A couple of deuces later, Murray nets a simple forehand and it’s break point Fed. The baseline rally ends with Federer whipping a stunning forehand cross-court. It’s just too good.

Murray 2-6 0-1 Federer
Murray’s head is dropping. A man with a Union Jack painted on his face looks on with concern. Worrying times these. Unless you’re Roger Federer. The champ rises gloriously to put away the smash and that’s a love service game.

2242: “I wouldn’t want to be a teacher in Scotland tomorrow because there are going to be a lot of tired kids because this is going all the way! Come on Andy.”
Anon via text on 81111

2241: “Murray played the first set like someone who played yesterday and has only had 24 hours off.”
Jeff Tarango on BBC Radio 5 Live

FIRST SET

Murray 2-6 Federer
The crowd are definitely behind the artist formerly known as King Fed, but they may swing the other way if this continues. Two stinging forehands have Murray rocking and that’s two set points for the world number two. Yet another forehand hammer forces another Murray error and that’s the first gone in 26 minutes.

2237: “No-one can live with Federer when he plays this well, not even Nadal. It’s just too good.”
Manufan87 on 606

Murray 2-5 Federer
Bad news Murray fans, Federer looks good. Very good. He shows how confident he is by charging to the net and driving a volley cross-court. Murray manages to get it back to 40-30 but Federer bangs down a first serve and all of a sudden, he’s a game away from the first set.

Murray 2-4 Federer
Uh-oh. Murray goes for a big second serve, but it’s just long and his first double-fault of the match gives Fed a 0-30 lead. Federer goes long with a forehand but when Murray nets a routine backhand, it gives the world number two his second and third break points of the match. Going for the big winner, Murray sends a forehand into the trams. HawkEye agrees with the linesman’s call and it’s first blood to Fed.

2228: “Well 50 years I’ve been watching tennis, seen Tim and Greg come and go, I didn’t think I would see another Brit in the final before the end of my time, COME ON!!”
Anon via text on 81111

Murray 2-3 Federer
“Federer’s hitting the ball very hard,” comments a colleague. Devastating analysis. The hard-hitting Federer is winning most of the baseline exchanges for the moment and his serve is looking top-notch too. An easy hold for the Swiss mister.

Murray 2-2 Federer
Federer steps it up, sending a rasping forehand onto the baseline before some brilliant reactions at the net make it 15-30. The world number two is unlucky to see a backhand clip the net and drop wide but after a brutal baseline rally, Murray is the first to blink, mis-hitting a forehand to give Fed a break point. Brave stuff from Murray though, rocking Fed with a deep forehand.

2220: “Federer is just too talented for Murray. The match is on Federer’s racket.”
cheeryBerbatovRules on 606

Murray 1-2 Federer
Federer moves into position to spank a forehand down the line – but Murray scampers over and incredibly loops the pass cross-court. That makes it 30-30 but a big serve helps Federer out and Murray nets a backhand.

Murray 1-1 Federer
Murray loses the first point with an errant backhand but there’s no sign of panic. Two service winners – including his first ace – get him back on track and a cross-court forehand pass takes him to game point. Fed goes just wide. Good start from the Brit.

Murray 0-1 Federer
Fed opens up with two winning first serves before Murray puts a tame return into the net. The world number two seals the game with an effortless backhand winner. Not bad, not bad.

2212: Off we go then. Murray will receive the Federer serve.

2211: Half the crowd seem to be still polishing off their hot dogs outside because the stadium is only slowly filling up. Still, it is Monday so I imagine a few ticket-holders have had to go to work.

2209: “I’m terribly nervously excited!!”
napoleon-solo on 606

2208: A note for the fashion watchers. Murray is wearing his now familiar grey T-shirt and white shorts. Federer has just taken off his special ‘NY 2008′ tracksuit top to reveal a red top and khaki shorts combo.

2205: The umpires goes through the toin coss routine at the net before the players pose for the traditional pre-match photo at the net. “Have a great match,” Federer tells Murray. “Thanks,” says Murray.

2202: Andy Murray makes his entrance into the Arthur Ashe Stadium, waving at the crowd as he does. The Brit looks pretty calm as he prepares for his first Grand Slam final. A fella called Federer follows.

2200: “I am possibly a little older than Andy’s Gran and on this day awaiting two happy events – the arrival of great-grandchild number two and Andy becoming US Open champ. Come on Mr Murray – make my day.”
Supergran via text on 81111

2156: “Anyone feel like singing with me?” asks Harry. “Not really,” the crowd seem to respond. But his rendition gets a good ovation before a very noisy flypast by the Blue Angels.

2154: Here he comes. Yes, jazz twiddler Harry Connick Jr will sing America the Beautiful.

2152: “He’s come a remarkably long way, especially from when he was getting criticism a year ago about his fitness. But he always insisted he just needed time for his body to grow. The way he played and lasted against Nadal shows he was right. And it also shows he was right to get rid of Brad Gilbert and take on Miles MacLagan, even though he was just starting out as a coach.”
Murray’s biographer, Rob Robertson, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland.

2146: A well-known sportswear company employed boxing promoter Don King to big up the ‘Grapple in the Apple’ between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal before this tournament. Things didn’t quite work out as planned did they? Still, the wacky American has done his best with Murray… “He’s the double 0 seven of the tennis court: Andy Murray. Blistering back serves, forearm, one two, know what I mean?” Erm, I’m not sure that I do.

2140: “Andy seems pretty calm. Obviously, it’s a new experience when you get to this stage but I think he’s pretty clear about what he’s trying to do. I don’t think anything will surprise me. Andy is very capable of winning.”
Paul Annacone, Pete Sampras’s former coach and current LTA men’s head coach

2137: “Watched yesterday’s match in NYC LaGuardia airport. As John McEnroe said: “If Murray stays aggressive and doesn’t get down on himself he can beat anybody, he is that good.” Come on Murray get stuck in and do us all proud…”
hyflyer on 606

2135: Here’s a treat for you UK users, video footage of Andy Murray as a 14-year-old. He appears to be chewing gum while making mincemeat of the BBC man. Tsk.

2130: “If we take away the scenario, we know Andy Murray has got a big chance, we know he can beat Roger Federer. But it’s a massive occasion and the big question is how will he deal with it? How will the nerves affect him? The crowd will be with Roger, no question. He’s a big favourite here.”
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash

2127: “I have to be up at 4.30 tomorrow for a history trip to France. Should I go to bed now or watch Murray? Not really a hard choice – Murray in four.”
Daniel, London, via text on 81111

2124: “He’s up there with the big three. Nadal was the only one he has never beaten. He’s beaten them all now.”
Andy Murray’s gran Shirley Eskine

 

2119: “The weather is beautiful: sunshine, blue skies and pretty still.”
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Jonathan Overend in New York 2117: “I’m in a tent, camping in Cornwall. I’ve bought my laptop, an internet card, and ready for Murray to sort Fed out. My girlfriend is not pleased.”
Anon via text on 81111

2114: Ooh, I forgot to say. If you’re a 606 fan, opening hours are extended today so you can chat away until 0300 BST tomorrow morning. How marvellous.

2112: “My other half is Scottish and desperately wants a Murray victory, I however couldn’t turn down the 8-15 odds offered on a Federer win, there may be trouble ahead.”
Brian, Liverpool, via text on 81111
I’m no betting expert, but they don’t sound like good odds to me. Am I mad?

2108: Let’s hear from Scottish golfing legend Colin Montgomerie shall we? “As a fellow Scot and fellow Perthshire resident I am delighted. I am passing Dunblane on the way home this evening, we only live 10 miles apart. If he can beat Nadal and then Federer he deserves to win the US Open.”

2104: No one seems to remember 1936, but apparently everyone remembers that 1483 was the year of three kings. Many thanks for all your texts on that, but please, let’s hear no more about it. History’s boring innit?

2102: “The doors are open, the patrons are coming in and beginning to take their seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium.”
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Jonathan Overend in New York

2059: “I’m going to go on the same muscle-building programme as Andy Murray. I’m going to become Super Minister. He’s quite skilful, he’s unpredictable. He’s fast. He’s got instinct. I hope he wins tonight. But one way or the other, this is a top-class tennis player.”
Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond

2055: “I was at a party with Andy’s girlfriend’s brother last week. That sort of makes me famous, right? I’m thinking he’ll win in four sets! Good luck Andy.”
Adam from Burgess Hill, via text on 81111

2052: Andy Murray and Roger Federer have both completed their warm-ups. The four-time defending champion opted for Arthur Ashe Stadium, while Murray stuck with one of the outside courts. Interesting? Or not really?

2049: “Re 2042: Sorry, but only two kings in 1485. Rich 3rd and henry 7th. Basic history mistake.”
Thom, Wokingham, via text on 81111

2047: The great and good of Scotland have been throwing their weight behind Andy Murray today. Here’s His Royal Hoyness Chris, er Hoy: “The fight and determination he seems to have is inspiring for a lot of athletes and if anyone can beat Federer, I’m sure Andy is the man to do it.”

2042: “Re 2027: 1936 was only the third year in history to have three kings. The others being 1485 and 1066, but you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find someone who remembers them.”
Alex, Wimbledon, via text on 81111

2037: According to my extensive research (yup, wikipedia again), Fred Perry, Britain’s last male Grand Slam singles champion, used to shout “very clevah” when his opponent hit a good shot – which would really rile his rivals. Just a little tip for Andy, if he’s reading.

2032: “Forget school tomorrow, I’ll be up as long as long as they’re playing! Had a really awful day today so hopefully Andy can improve it with a winning performance.”
arryaddick on 606

2027: Of course, I especially want to hear your memories of the last time a British man won a Grand Slam singles title back in 1936. A year when the Depression lingered on, the Spanish Civil War began, King Edward VIII abdicated and the Hoover Dam was completed. And the good old BBC started its first television broadcasts. Wonder what happened to the Beeb?

2021: “COME ON MURRAY. Had to get that one out before anyone else!”
Chris in Chepstow, via text on 81111

2017: Look, former Wimbledon champ Michael Stich has got involved already. “I think you have to go for Roger for his experience,” the German told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He has 12 Grand Slam titles. A lot depends on how the match starts. Andy has to make sure the first set is tight. It’s not too bad if he loses it, but he must not let Roger win it 6-2 or 6-3 and cruise it.”

2011: It won’t have escaped your notice that there are still nearly two hours until the big kick-off in New York, and even then, there’ll be all sorts of razzle-dazzle before the players actually get to the court, so this is where you come in. Text on 81111 (charges apply) or get involved on 606 . Don’t let me ask you twice.

2005: Hello. You’ll be here for the big one. The grudge match. The Grapple in the Apple. Four-time defending champion Roger Federer against world number one Rafael Na… you what? A Brit? In a Grand Slam final? Well, bless my soul…

Venus v Sfar as it happened

Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June

French Open

Second-round result:

V WILLIAMS (US) bt S Sfar (Tun)

6-2 6-4

* denotes server

By Piers Newbery

Second set:

Venus 6-4 Sfar
Sfar gives the crowd something to cheer when she battles back from 0-40 and three match points down with a couple of thumping serves. Venus has no mercy on the third though, swiping a forehand into the corner to seal the win. Sfar’s search for a Grand Slam third-round place goes on…..

We’ll be back for Federer v Montanes at around 1330 BST, I would guess.

1143: Mansour Bahrami has his own website too, with the sub-heading “Tennis’ Greatest Entertainer”. Yes.

Venus 5-4 Sfar
Sfar has a smile to herself when she lobs Venus to get to 30-30 but the American holds and is one game from victory. A shot of the crowd shows Ilie Nastase having a chuckle with Mansour Bahrami. What hi-jinks are they planning, I wonder. If there were any bobbies in the area they would be in serious danger of a hat-stealing prank, that’s for sure.

Venus 4-4 Sfar
Sfar gets back on level terms when Venus misses with a backhand return and the Tunisian is still in this, just. Elsewhere, Jankovic is two games from victory against Erakovic, Nalbandian is two sets up against Chardy, and former junior girls’ world number one Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is heading for defeat. Shame.

Venus 4-3 Sfar
Venus moves back in front with a straightforward hold but she walks towards her chair with a face like thunder. If I were her dog Harold, I’d be worried.

Venus 3-3 Sfar
This is getting a bit lively now. Venus earns three break points at 0-40 but the devilish Sfar sliced backhand gets her out of trouble on the first two, and a killer drop shot makes it deuce. A ding-dong exchange at the net goes Venus’s way but the American agonisingly misses a first break point when a pass flicks off the net and drifts wide. Sfar cannot hold out though and tamely dumps a backhand in the net on the second break point.

Venus 2-3 Sfar
An absolute shocker from Venus lets Sfar back into the match. Venus sends a backhand way long on break point and has just made a leisurely morning that bit more difficult for herself.

1115: I’ve just noticed that the recent junior girls’ world number one is in action on Court Three. I first encountered the Russian at Wimbledon last year and couldn’t help hoping that her career would fail to take off – really don’t fancy spending the next 10 years trying to get Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova into a headline. A-Pav leads Flavia Pennetta by a set.

Venus 2-2 Sfar
Having said Sfar has a decent serve, that is when she manages to get the toss right. Still, she overcomes a few dodgy ones to hold serve with a forehand pass that Venus cannot handle at the net.

Venus 2-1 Sfar
A brief alarm for Venus as she faces a break point but Sfar cannot repeat her early break of the first set.

Venus 1-1 Sfar
Well done Selima. Under severe pressure she gets off the mark from deuce. She’s got a decent serve and nifty sliced backhand, just drops too many balls short for Venus to thump away. Meanwhile, everybody’s favourite moody Argentine David Nalbandian has taken the first set against Jeremy Chardy.

Venus 1-0 Sfar
Venus kicks off the second set by holding from deuce after letting a 40-0 lead slip. Match of the day for me looks like being Nikolay Davydenko against fellow Russian Marat Safin. Judging from yesterday’s texts on 81111 , there’s quite an appetite out there for that one among a certain demographic. And I don’t think they want to marvel at Nikolay’s consistency from the baseline.

First set:

Venus 6-2 Sfar
Venus gets to 15-40 with a brutal backhand-return winner. Sfar saves the first with a big serve but Venus attacks the net on the second and Sfar misses with a pass. Plain sailing so far for Venus, as it is on Suzanne Lenglen where third seed Jelena Jankovic has just take the first set against Marina Erakovic.

Venus 5-2 Sfar
Four games in a row for Venus, who is really motoring around the court now, all arms, legs and winners. Some good news – Sfar has a website. Some bad news – it’s in French. If you paid more attention than me in GCSE French, feel free to access it from the link on the right-hand side of this page.

1040: The weather is good at the moment but showers are forecast I’m afraid. Weather permitting, later on we’ll be back with live updates on Roger Federer against Albert Montanes, with news on Rafael Nadal against Nicolas Devilder, who sounds like the kind of cad and bounder who would be played by Nigel Havers in a film.

Venus 4-2 Sfar
Sfar is giving it her all and it’s hard to believe she’s never been ranked higher than 76 in the world. Still, Venus has the edge, battling back to break with a couple of searing forehand winners.

Venus 3-2 Sfar
Another sticky game for Venus but she takes control from deuce, thumping down a smash at the end of one particularly vigorous rally. A reminder that she’s still the best athlete in the women’s game.

1028: A small window into Venus’s world from her blog, regarding her recent journey from Rome to Paris: “Harold, my dog, was with me, and he was so well behaved the whole flight! David and I had a great 2 hour practice on the red clay. Its nice being back on the red clay and grinding! Harold ran all over the court and his paws turned a light orange from the clay. I had to brush him off but it was so cute!”

Venus 2-2 Sfar
Venus smotes a backhand down the line to get to 15-40 and two break points and then attacks the net to punch away a backhand volley. A break back and really impressive game from the American.

Venus 1-2 Sfar
And Sfar breaks to love, who’d have thought? Venus punts a backhand volley long and looks determined to get as much practise in as possible ahead of the grass, meanwhile her opponent takes advantage. Sfar so good. Sorry.

Venus 1-1 Sfar
It’s been a pretty good start, must be the sunshine. Sfar can wallop down a big serve when she needs to while Venus is all action as usual. Tunisia’snumber one (and only ranked player)holds serve.

Venus 1-0 Sfar
Let’s be fair to Sfar, she won three matches in qualifying so she’s obviously got a bit of form. As for Venus, who knows? She’s hardly pulled up any trees so far this year and isn’t a great fan of clay but she’ll still be a big threat at Wimbledon next month. The American makes a bit of a scratchy start but takes the opener with several sorties to the net.

1010: Morning, we’re going to start off with a look at Venus Williams against Selima Sfar. That’s right, the Tunisian number one.

Sfar is ranked 241 in the world, not far off her 31st birthday, and attempting to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time. A tall order I’d say.

Story from BBC SPORT

Nadal v Bellucci as it happened

Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June

French Open

First-round result:

R NADAL (Spa) bt T Bellucci (Bra)

7-5 6-3 6-1

* denotes server

Third set:

1528: A fine performance from Nadal and a magnificent effort from all of you, thanks for your texts – even the dubious ones. Time for a quick break (and for some you I recommend a cold shower) before we’re back with Murray v Acasuso at about 1700 BST. My colleague Caroline Cheese is already going through her pre-match preparations, impressive stuff.

Nadal 6-1 Bellucci
There we have it, Nadal seals victory with another break of serve and, as usual, his relentless power just proves too much for an opponent on clay. A decent effort from Bellucci though.

1526: “Roddick@Queens? Brill, I’ve got weekend tickets. I’m hoping for Rafa, Djokovic, Roddick and Murray in the semis. Hopefully the draw will work out.”
From Sarah, Bucks, via text on 81111

1524: “I think Andy ‘i like to win in a hurry’ Murray will have no problems against Jose ‘i can do so’ Acasuso.”
From Dan, Frimley, via text on 81111 (Good work, Dan)

1522: “Ah fair enough (see 1512 entry) , i think my eyes are deceiving me today, i could have point my life on balls being in and they werent… Maybe its all the pant watching i have been doing.
From Lauren via text on 81111

Nadal 5-1 Bellucci
Nadal has a very minor scare at 0-30 but comes up with a beautiful swinging serve down the centre line for an ace, and he saves a break point by taking charge with his forehand. Nadal wraps up the game with a drop shot that Bellucci, understandably, doesn’t really look like he fancies chasing down. Been a long afternoon.

Nadal 4-1 Bellucci
Bellucci stays just about alive in this match with his first service hold for a while. Meanwhile, out on Court Three, Julien Benneteau proves he is not in the least bit afraid of Vince Spadea and sees him off in five sets. Just Stephanie Cohen-Aloro against Ioana Raluca Olaru to go before Murray against Acasuso. I am never typing that sentence again.

1512: “Yes Lauren (see 1506 entry) , it is just you.”
From Chris via text on 81111

Nadal 4-0 Bellucci
There’s a bit of mild controversy as Bellucci claims he stopped on a point because he heard a call from the crowd, but the umpire is having none of it. Nadal powers on.

1510: “Can ne1 outlast Rafa? 5 day matches, coming back from 2 sets down… Bellucci has 2 do something brilliant now 2 stand ne chance of winning.”
From Sarah, Cambridge, via text on 81111

1506: “Is it just me who thinks bellucci looks about 9ft tall??
From Lauren via text on 81111

Nadal 3-0 Bellucci
Nadal takes complete control with a second break in this set, grabbing it with a delicate angled forehand. For all those Murray fans out there Vince ‘I ain’t afraid aya’ Spadea is doing his best to hold our man up by taking Julien Benneteau to five sets on Court Three. There’s a women’s singles to follow, so I reckon we’re looking at some time after 1730 BST.

Nadal 2-0 Bellucci
Nadal consolidates the break and Bellucci looks a bit forlorn for the first time today. Should be plain sailing now, but don’t forget we’ve got Andy Murray coming up later. And thank you Helen and Missy for your positive comments, I just hope you’re not reading this while operating heavy machinery.

1459: “Clearly something has got into the water, the ladies on here seem to be frisky today! As a riposte could i just say, Ana Ivanovic is slighty attractive.”
From Stu in Redhill via text on 81111

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
Bellucci looks on course for an easy hold but lets Nadal back in to deuce and the champ soon has a break point. Bellucci does well to win a long rally but Nadal gets the break two points later and that could well be that. The sounds of baying French schoolchildren fills the arena. Terrifying.

Second set:

Nadal 6-3 Bellucci
A confident hold of serve and Nadal moves two sets clear and looks all set for the second round.

1445: To summarise the flood of dubious texts prompted by Rafa and his underwear issues, Jude finds it “loathsome”, Sarah from Bucks is more of Djokovic girl, Steve in West Sussex has odd thoughts about Rafa’s left bicep, and someone out there still holds a candle for Billie Jean. What a world. Oh and, yes, Soph from Cambridge , Roddick will be fit for Queen’s and Wimbledon.

Nadal 5-3 Bellucci
Bellucci goes for a serve-volley early on and takes the point with a stop-volley that would have made Sampras proud. Remember old Pete? Charging into the net, smacking aces, volleying everything that moved… jumpers for goalposts etc. And I’m back in the room – Nadal gets a break point but Bellucci saves it with a fine wrong-footing forehand. A second chance arrives for Nadal and this time he takes it…. with a volley! Dear old Pete would be loving this.

1436: OK, that last text message regarding Nadal crossed the line – you know who you are, ‘anon’.

Nadal 4-3 Bellucci
A few signs of frustration from Nadal in this game as the tenacious Bellucci keeps him on his toes until, at 30-30, the Brazilian skies a backhand and then fails to chase down a drop shot. It’s not easy going for the champion so far but he had a similar match against Juan Martin del Potro early on last year, and it didn’t do him any harm.

1431: “As much as I love Nadal, I wouldn’t rule Bellucci out just yet. He appears to be as much of a fighter as Rafa.”
Sarah from Cambridge via text on 81111 (Thank you, Sarah.)

1431: “I’m with caroline re Marat Safin – phew!”
From anon via text on 81111 (I give up.)

Nadal 3-3 Bellucci
Bellucci gets back on level terms with a very confident love-service game and he’s not going anywhere for the moment.

1428: “Rafa is definitely maintaining those pants (see 1408 and 1418 entries) , believe me i have been keeping a close eye on them :)”
From lauren via text on 81111 (OK ladies, I managed to maintain a sense of dignity and self-restraint through a whole Sharapova match, so I’m sure you can do the same.)

Nadal 3-2 Bellucci
Just watching these two smack forehands is making my shoulder hurt. Bellucci gets to deuce with a cross-court forehand that leaves Nadal scrambling in the dust, but he follows up with a poor approach and Nadal takes the game with… guess what, a massive forehand.

1421: “Thats it. Game over. Bellucci needed to win that first set to stand a chance. If he wins now I’ll eat my own face.”
Pete from liverpool via text on 81111

1418: “In reply to ginny (see 1408 entry) , i have noticed that Rafas new trousers have a slightly looser fit than normal which may mean fewer wedgies, unlucky for us girls!”
From vicky via text on 81111

Nadal 2-2 Bellucci
Bellucci comes through a really entertaining game with a winner off his apparently weaker backhand side.

1408: “Bellucci really needed to take that first set. He might still get a set but he needed to get the early momentum.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

Nadal 2-1 Bellucci
Another tidy service game from the three-time champion and it looks less and less likely that this afternoon will be the first time he suffers a defeat at Roland Garros.

1408: “Is rafa enjoying any of his usual pant picking action this afternoon?”
From Ginny via text on 81111 (Relatively little undergarment maintenance so far but I’ll let you know if the situation changes)

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
Bellucci takes some frustration out with a crunching serve that puts Nadal on his backside, although the champion still gets close to making the return, and the Brazilian holds to 15 with a backhand volley.

1404: ” Im pretty sure the radio1 number is 81199, which means that “bethannie, hollie n rachel” (see 1322 entry) need to sharpen up their texting fingers. best wishes to mr rampage.”
From david via text on 81111

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
It’s bright sunshine for the first time this week at Roland Garros and the sunny outlook is enhanced for my colleague Caroline Cheese with the news that Marat Safin has just beaten Jean-Rene Lisnard. She looks upon Safin in a not entirely professional manner. Back in the real world, Nadal holds to love.

1359: “I’m not sure what the future in this match is for Bellucci, but I certainly think his future in men’s tennis is a very bright one.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

First set:

Nadal 7-5 Bellucci
Good stuff from Bellucci when he comes to the net at 30-15 and takes the point with a couple of sharp volleys, but the Brazilian double-faults to be pegged back to deuce. Nadal gets his first set point but mishits a backhand, and Bellucci saves a second with a forehand. Set point number three and Bellucci double-faults – shame to finish a good set in that way.

1349: “Piers do you think that anyone will take a set off nadal in the first week?”
Mike, having his hair coloured in Newcastle, via text on 81111 (This clockwatch is taking a strange turn but, yes, I think he might lose a set or two early on. Maybe in the next few minutes. Keep us updated with hair news.)

Nadal 6-5 Bellucci
The, er, “beautiful Nadal” (see below) is back on track with a love-service game and ends with a “C’mon!”, which is a recent variation on his native “Vamos!” Bellucci faces a test of nerve here to see if he can force the tie-break.

1345: “Typical, i’ve been sat waiting since monday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful nadal at his best and when he finally gets on im at work! Relying on you to keep me informed piers!”
From anon via text on 81111

Nadal 5-5 Bellucci
Another perfect drop shot leaves Nadal stranded way behind the baseline and Bellucci holds to love to draw level.

Nadal 5-4 Bellucci
A pumped up Bellucci breaks straight back, much to everyone’s amazement.

1338: “I’m glad to report Rampage (see 1322 entry) is feeling better today and enjoying the tennis.”
From Matt, via text, on 81111

Nadal 5-3 Bellucci
Nadal is really fizzing down the forehands now and when one lands smack on the baseline, Bellucci cannot handle it and gives up two break points. The Brazilian then tries to drop shot Nadal again but the Spaniard is too quick and grabs the break.

Nadal 4-3 Bellucci
Contrary to rumours flying around on 606, Bellucci was not the star of the 1980s film K-9. That was James Belushi. Nor is he related to Italian actress and model, Monica Bellucci, who really is quite special. Thomaz has only a thumping serve and great big forehand with which to make his name. Nadal, who is of course the nephew of ex-Barcelona and Spain defender Miguel Angel Nadal, holds serve.

Nadal 3-3 Bellucci
Two of the biggest left-handed forehands you’re likely to see are locked in battle here – a battle you have to think Nadal will win in the end. Bellucci shows some nice touch with a superb angled backhand though, and takes the game with a big serve.

1322: Don’t forget you can text your words of wisdom if you’re in the UK on 81111. That number is shared with Radio 1 texts, for whom the following message is intended I think: “Rampage was sick last night. Loved it bethannie, hollie n rachel x x x”.
My condolences to Mr Rampage and best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Nadal 3-2 Bellucci
Nadal holds in double-quick time.

1318: “Nadal keeps looping it into the advantage corner, but Bellucci isn’t a rightie. On top of that, Bellucci can really spank high forehands, and Nadal is just feeding em right in there.”
philisophicalarfster on 606

Nadal 2-2 Bellucci
It’s worth noting that Bellucci has won four clay-court titles on the lower Challenger level tour this year and came through three matches in qualifying, so he’s no mug, as they say in Paris. A deft drop shot comes as a shock to everyone, Nadal included, among a barrage of heavy hitting. Still, the three-time champion is the best in the world at getting everything back and recovers the break immediately.

1312: “Bellucci has got beautiful poise on his backhand side and he reminds me of a left-handed Kuerten. He seems to have a sense that he belongs with the top players.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

Nadal 1-2 Bellucci
We’re under way and it remains blustery out on Philippe Chatrier Court, but thankfully no sign of rain yet. Nadal looks relieved to have finally been let off the leash but finds it tough going early on, facing break point after Bellucci smashes a huge forehand winner. The Brazilian goes for too much with another forehand but he converts a second break point to take a surprise lead.

In other early men’s matches, 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero retired in the second set against Marcos Daniel, fifth seed David Ferrer saw off Steve Darcis, and Aussie battler Lleyton Hewitt had a good win over Nicolas Mahut.

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
So, third time lucky, let’s hope this time we can get through without any rain interruptions. They managed two games last night in which both men held serve.

Nadal remains the world number two and three-time defending champion, Bellucci remains the world number 76 and a huge outsider.

Third set:

1240: A quick break now so that I can get a cup of tea, Nadal and Bellucci can warm up, and several hundred French teenagers can nip out for a fag. Back soon.

“I just think at the end it was physically a little too much for Rodina and she didn’t quite have enough. Sharapova, once again, delivers.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 8-6 Rodina
“Ma-ri-a, Ma-ri-a,” chant the youth of Paris, disproving my theory that every French teenager is in London at the moment. Sharapova closes out the match surprisingly easily, with a couple of dust storms and double-fault number 17 proving the only obstacle. She finally seals the win after two hours 28 minutes – zut alors.

Sharapova 7-6 Rodina
The quality of Sharapova’s drop shots has been variable, to say the least, but she finds a winner at the right time to get to 30-30. A backhand error from Rodina hands Sharapova her first break point of the set but she drags a backhand wide. A slapstick rally of net cords and missed chances follows, with Rodina putting a forehand long with the court gaping. Sharapova takes advantage by forcing an error on her second break point and the world number one can see the finish line, at last.

1228: Just to clear up the mystery that has gripped no-one but myself, the Noel Gallagher lookalike in the crowd is in fact her coach, Andrei Youzhny, brother of Russian player Mikhail. So he’s not Hispanic.

Sharapova 6-6 Rodina
Like Kenny Loggins, Sharapova is on a Highway to the Danger Zone here. At 15-15 she gets a huge slice of luck when a thumping forehand catches the net and loops just inside the line. She then pulls a forehand winner down the line before a desperate attempt at a lob that Rodina smacks away. Sharapova recovers with a huge forehand that literally knocks Rodina off her feet. No tie-break so we could be here a while.

1222: “In that game I was expecting a mental cave from Rodina but it didn’t happen, and she looks like a player who almost believes she can win this.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 5-6 Rodina
It’s all looking good again for Rodina at 40-15 but she drags a couple wide and is pegged back to deuce. In a lengthy rally, Rodina withstands a battering and forces the error before sealing the game.

Sharapova 5-5 Rodina
A thumping backhand winner followed by the now traditional Sharapova double-fault leave Rodina at 30-30 and just two points from victory. Rodina is playing in her first ever Grand Slam match, just to get things in perspective. Sharapova again comes up with two big first serves to get herself out of trouble.

Sharapova 4-5 Rodina
A slightly dubious drop shot gives Sharapova the first point – it’s a bit floaty and would probably have lobbed one of the Rochus brothers, but it does the job. The wind is blowing the ball all over the place and Rodina looks frustrated for the first time, as does Hispanic Noel in the stands, but she hangs on. One game from a huge shock. That’s huge, people.

Sharapova 4-4 Rodina
Rodina lunges out wide and hooks a forehand pass around Sharapova at the net for 15-15, and follows up with an even better forehand winner down the line from behind the baseline. Sharapova dumps a forehand into the net and it’s 15-40, two break points for Rodina…..

Sharapova smacks down two of her best serves of the day, the stuff of champions. She then double-faults, but recovers with yet another huge first serve and takes the game with a classic cross-court forehand off her hips.

Sharapova 3-4 Rodina
No sign of cramp as Rodina serves her way to 40-0 and moves back in front. We are getting close to a major shock now – the top women’s seed has not lost in the first round at Roland Garros in the Open era, i.e. since 1968.

Sharapova 3-3 Rodina
Sharapova opens with a wayward forehand and double-fault number 14 but despite struggling desperately for form, the top seed battles back. A searing forehand winner gets Sharapova to 40-30 and prompts Rodina to crouch down and feel her leg – maybe cramp. Sharapova holds.

Sharapova 2-3 Rodina
In contrast with Sharapova in the previous game, Rodina looks very much in control on her serve. She takes it to love and certainly has the upper hand at the moment.

Sharapova 2-2 Rodina
After plenty of tense, scrappy stuff, we get the point of the match so far at 15-15. Both players strike the ball beautifully in a lengthy rally that ends with Sharapova arrowing a backhand down the line that Rodina just cannot return. She responds with a flowing off-forehand winner but Sharapova edges the game. “C’mon!” she screams, as dad Yuri urges her on from the stands. He scares me.

Sharapova 1-2 Rodina
A big serve sees Rodina hold serve and she looks pretty unflappable at the moment. Sharapova has made 49 unforced errors and 12 double-faults so far. I would consider that a solid set, but the world number one is probably not going to be happy with those stats.

Sharapova 1-1 Rodina
A few unforced errors from Rodina let Sharapova off the hook a bit and the top seed is still shrieking and urging herself to “C’mon!”, which is a good sign if you’re in the Maria camp. I remain utterly impartial.

Sharapova 0-1 Rodina
Rodina takes the lead in the match for the first time and Sharapova will need all her battling qualities to get through this.

Second set:

1133: “Sharapova has given Rodina so many points. All credit to Rodina but she hasn’t done anything dazzling and Sharapova is faltering.”
Alastair Eykyn on BBCi

Sharapova 3-6 Rodina
Sharapova does her bit and moves to 40-0 but Rodina will not lie down and recovers to deuce, at which Sharapova double-faults again. A poor approach and dodgy volley set up Rodina to make the winning pass and level at one set all.

Sharapova 3-5 Rodina
The dust is blowing all over the place and annoying the players during the changeover. It reminds of afternoons spent on Broadstairs beach when I should have been in double English. Fortunately, neither of these two ladies are likely to be smacked in the head by a wayward frisbee. So, Rodina…. a love game betrays no sign of nerves at all and I refer to my original prediction, this could be a test for Sharapova now.

Sharapova 3-4 Rodina
The service problems look to be behind Sharapova as she eases to 40-0, but moments later we have double-fault number 10 and it’s deuce. The world number one grits her teeth and fires a superb forehand winner down the line before closing out the game.

1114: “What’s hurting Sharapova right now is the amount of unforced errors – eight in the first set, 13 so far in the second.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 2-4 Rodina
The camera keeps returning to someone who I presume is part of the Rodina ‘support team’, although he looks like a Hispanic Noel Gallagher. Anyway, Rodina does brilliantly to recover from 0-30 and move two games clear.

Sharapova 2-3 Rodina
Blimey, Sharapova’s serve has fallen to pieces. Successive break points, including one effort that I swear bounces before it hits the net, hand Rodina two break points. The top seed does well to hold serve and looks fine once the ball is in play, but the serve is a worry. She had terrible shoulder problems last year and that could be playing on her mind.

Sharapova 1-3 Rodina
Rodina dumps a forehand into the net and it’s deuce, but Sharapova lets a backhand slide wide on game point and Rodina consolidates the break. If anything the wind is getting stronger out there.

Sharapova 1-2 Rodina
A love game gets Sharapova off the mark and she doesn’t look unduly concerned at the moment. Some fashion facts from Alastair Eykyn on BBCi – apparently Maria is wearing a dress inspired by the 1920s that, according to her website, “reflects her dynamic sense of style”. I’m starting to worry about Alastair.

1055: “I’m starting to notice that backhand of Rodina, she gets up behind it and really transfers her weight well.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 0-2 Rodina
At 15-30, Rodina decides to have a go at the net. Some would say brave, others foolhardy. Sharapova gets Rodina in her sights and batters her with a succession of brutal groundstrokes, forcing the error and getting to 15-40. All credit to Rodina though, she comes battling back to hold serve. Gritty stuff.

Sharapova 0-1 Rodina
Think I’ll steer clear of predictions for today. After Rodina returns from a lengthy ‘comfort break’, Sharapova clearly decides it’s time to practise her forecourt game and trots up to the net. It’s not her natural habitat at the best of times, especially on clay in a howling wind, and she’s soon 15-40 down. The first two break points go begging but Rodina grabs a third to keep the match alive.

First set:

Sharapova 6-1 Rodina
A screaming return winner gets Sharapova to set point and she duly converts to wrap up the set in 29 minutes, making my lazy prediction of a possible test for the top seed look particularly rash. I now predict she will win easily.

Sharapova 5-1 Rodina
We’re up to three double-faults from Sharapova now but from 15-30 she steps aside and hammers an off forehand deep into the opposite corner. Rodina cannot convert a break point, at which point Sharapova gets a time violation warning from the umpire. If looks could kill. Still, she takes it out on the ball and goes on to hold.

Sharapova 4-1 Rodina
OK, Sharapova is up and running now, sweeping to another break and skipping back to her chair, You’ve got to hand it to Maria, she is always completely focused right from the off no matter what the tournament or who the opponent.

Sharapova 3-1 Rodina
With the wind behind her, Sharapova gives us the first service hold of the match. I would say it silenced the crowd but they’re already silent. You never get the impression at Roland Garros that people have been camping out overnight to get into the place. Maybe they’re all out actually playing tennis and that’s why the French have got loads of good players.

Sharapova 2-1 Rodina
Sharapova gets Rodina on the run early on and earns another two break points at 15-40, but Rodina saves the first with a big serve and the second with a running forehand. However, Sharapova clubs a forehand winner to get to advantage and Rodina overhits a forehand – three breaks in three games.

Sharapova 1-1 Rodina
A quick rundown on Rodina – she’s 19, ranked at pretty much a career-high of 103 in the world, and… hang on, she’s just broken back. Could be a test for Sharapova today.

Sharapova 1-0 Rodina
It’s extremely windy on Philippe Chatrier Court at the moment and almost completely bereft of spectators. None of which bothers Sharapova in the slightest and she breaks immediately – nervous start from Rodina.

1009: “The weather ruined my annual French Open dream last night. Ever year I have a dream in which the trophy is handed over to someone but a thunderclap woke me up before I got to see who it was last night.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

WEDNESDAY 1007: Day three of the Rafael Nadal v Thomaz Bellucci clockwatch begins…. with Maria Sharapova against Evgenya Rodina. Rafa will be back after the women’s top seed begins her campaign.

TUESDAY 1910: Play is officially called off for the day, so Nadal and Bellucci will be back tomorrow for a third attempt to play their match. Keep an eye out on our schedule page to see tomorrow’s line-up, should be a busy one.

1848: And the heavens open again! The rain comes pouring down, the umbrellas go straight up, and the covers are across.

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
It’s a battle of the forehands early on and that’s a dangerous game against Nadal, who finds one searing pass that the Brazilian cannot handle. Bellucci holds his nerve though and takes the game with a thumping backhand.

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
A solid enough start from the champion, who does not look in any particular hurry despite the late start.

1838: “Bellucci does have a good serve and has leapt up the rankings – this has the potential to be fascinating.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

1835: The players are out and knocking up , with Rafa sporting a vibrant green number that puts me in mind of the The Riddler from Batman. Bellucci is about to take on the closest thing to unbeatable in sport, I am about to try and eat a baked potato with bolognese while updating this clockwatch. Very different challenges but equally great.

1820: So where were we? Only 28 hours ago we got ready for Nadal v Bellucci, and finally we’re going to get it…

“So the facts and figures don’t stack up too well for Thomaz Bellucci here. While Rafael Nadal is the three-time defending champion, unbeaten at Roland Garros, and increasingly viewed by many as the greatest clay-courter of all time, Thomaz has a less glittering CV.

The man from Tiete, Brazil, has played just six ATP level matches in his career and won only one in 2008. Still, he came through three matches in qualifying, seeing off Martin Slanar, Ivo Klec and Tomas Zib no less.

And at 20 years old he has a year on Nadal, so maybe he’ll be able to tire the older man out. It’s a plan….”
BBC Sport’s Piers Newbery 28 hours ago

1817: Mauresmo wraps things up after seeing two match points go begging, to the delight of those hardy French souls who sat through the rain. And now they should get a bit of Nadal v Bellucci to warm them up.

1807: “When she gets going it’s absolutely terrific, and I’m sure a lot of players would swap their careers with Amelie Mauresmo’s.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

1805: Mauresmo looks to be cruising now at 4-1 up, but you never know with Amelie.

1755: “This weather is just stupid! it going to take the first week to complete just the first round unless this horrid weather improves, gotta feel sorry for the players that are geared up to play, only to be sent back to the lockerroom.”
From Will, Hampshire, via text on 81111 (In fairness, sent an hour ago when it was raining)

1750: Mauresmo breaks at the start of the decider but I wouldn’t bet on her to serve it out from here. Meanwhile, Nikolay Davydenko has raced to a straight-sets win over Thomas Johansson. The Russian could play Marat Safin next – tasty.

1745: “The inconsistency from both women has been disappointing – you feel it’s totally there for the taking for either one of them.”
Jonathan Overend on BBCi

1715: Play is under way again and apparently things are looking good for up to two hours of uninterrupted action.

1654: Would you believe it? The covers are coming off so we might get to see some action soon. Mauresmo and Savchuk will be hoping they can get back out there and finish their match off, not sure if we’ll get to see Nadal and Bellucci though.

1626: At least 30 of Tuesday’s 72 matches have now been postponed, including top seed Maria Sharapova’s encounter against Evgeniya Rodina. There will be more to come.

1550: After much sweeping away of water, the covers are about to come off. Then it starts to chuck it down again. You can forget about 1600 BST, I’m afraid.

1444: Apparently there will be no play before 1600 BST. This is no great surprise, bearing in mind it’s still raining. I am told that only 25 of 56 first-round matches were completed on Monday, stats fans.

1417: Well, we had a good run but the rain is back and the covers are firmly on. What had begun yesterday afternoon as a Rafael Nadal v Thomaz Bellucci clockwatch is now turning into a rainwatch.

The men’s champion will not be in action until Amelie Mauresmo and Olga Savchuk finish their match, with Mauresmo currently leading by a set without looking too convincing. Stay tuned for weather updates.

1240: Amelie Mauresmo and Olga Savchuk are waiting to come out while everyone looks nervously at the sky. In charge of operations and apparently taking the Alan Mills role is a, frankly, very attractive blonde lady. Well done France. More importantly, the players are now out on court. You can follow this one through our live scores, I’ll be back to cover Nadal v Bellucci… fingers crossed.

1225: Look sharp everyone! The covers are off, they’re sweeping the court and we might just get some action soon.

1112: And people moan about Wimbledon, eh? No change in Paris where the rain continues to fall.

1029: I should point out that Nadal and Bellucci are scheduled second on Philippe Chatrier Court after Amelie Mauresmo takes on Olga Savchuk. We’re going to get an official weather update at 1100 BST, but unofficially I can confirm that the covers are on and steadily filling with rain.

TUESDAY 1000: After an exciting couple of trips across London I am back to confirm that it is still raining in Paris, and the start of day three will be delayed until at least 1100 BST. Judging by the weather forecast, we may not get much play today.

MONDAY 1809: There we have it, play is officially suspended for the day. Come back bright and early tomorrow and we’ll have another go.

1801: “Thomaz, with “z”, is usual in Brazil (see 1530 entry) . Though the 1943 orthographic reform changed it to “Tomás”, many parents prefer the archaic name out of fancy. So we can find both, Thomaz or Tomás, or even Thomas. We had another good player of the same name, Thomaz Koch (Roland Garros quarterfinals, 1968).”
From andrefontenelle on 606

1743: Seventeen matches have been postponed for the day. The rain has actually eased off a little, but the covers are still on. Reminds me of Wimbledon last year. Grim.

1740: “Bleak scene at RG. Bellucci has only played six atp matches with one win! haha rafa is unbeaten in french open, im not gonna lie, it doesnt look good for the young brazillian!”
FromWill, Southampton, via text on 81111

1606: “Rain rain go away come again another day I wana c my Rafa play.”
From Sonia, London, via text on 81111

1532: The covers are coming across on Phillipe Chatrier Court – rest assured we’ll be back whenever the action starts.

1530: If there are any Brazilians out there, can you let us know if the use of ‘z’ in Thomaz is a regular thing, or does it suggest that Mr Bellucci has added it for a bit of glamour? By the way, it’s raining properly in Paris so there’s a bit of a delay.

1520: OK, so the facts and figures don’t stack up too well for Thomaz Bellucci here. While Rafael Nadal is the three-time defending champion, unbeaten at Roland Garros, and increasingly viewed by many as the greatest clay-courter of all time, Thomaz has a less glittering CV.

The man from Tiete, Brazil, has played just six ATP level matches in his career and won only one in 2008. Still, he came through three matches in qualifying, seeing off Martin Slanar, Ivo Klec and Tomas Zib no less.

And at 20 years old he has a year on Nadal, so maybe he’ll be able to tire the older man out. It’s a plan….

Story from BBC SPORT

Federer v Querrey as it happened

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June

French Open

First-round result:

R FEDERER Swi v S QUERREY USA

6-4 6-4 6-3

* denotes server

Third Set:

Federer 6-3 Querrey
Federer finishes things off with another break of serve when Querrey goes long with a backhand, and his day’s work is done in one hour 35 minutes. Federer will play Kristof Vliegen or Albert Montanes next. I reckon he’ll win too. Join us later for a bit of Rafael Nadal action.

1332: “Currently revising for finals on Iraqi Kurdistan and worrying about finding a job… How did you get your dream biscuit-eating tennis-watching job Piers?”
From anon, via text on 81111 (I know someone who knows someone, who fortunately didn’t know me)

Federer 5-3 Querrey
News just in that French hope and one-time wonderkid Richard Gasquet has pulled out with a knee injury. He’s not having the best of times, which is a shame, as anyone who saw his amazing Wimbledon win over Andy Roddick would agree. Back on Suzanne Lenglen and Federer holds from 30-30, taking the game with a second serve that leaps off the clay and forces the error.

Federer 4-3 Querrey
Entirely predictably, Federer breaks serve with an absolutely blistering forehand return and he’s one game from victory. Querrey’s fitness coach, Gil Reyes, looks unimpressed in the stands. He looks like he’s seen some stuff in his time, old Gil.

Federer 3-3 Querrey
Buoyed by a sugar-coated biscuit, I’m now ready for a five-set thriller. Not sure Federer feels the same though and he continues to move serenely towards the finish line.

Federer 2-3 Querrey
Querrey holds. Apologies for the lack of detail on this game but someone has just opened a packet of chocolate biscuits and they’re not going to hang around.

Federer 2-2 Querrey
Federer gets back on level terms and we’re back to the traditional early-set atmosphere that’s reminiscent of a library on a Bank holiday.

Federer 1-2 Querrey
A lingering shot over the top of the stands catches a glimpse of the top of the Eiffel Tower, and for a moment I think it’s the Blackpool Tower. It’s not though. Querrey holds.

Federer 1-1 Querrey
A few gasps from the crowd when Federer looks to have bunted a simple forehand long but it just catches the line, and he holds to love.

Federer 0-1 Querrey
A great forehand from Querrey is followed up with a woeful smash into the middle of the net, but he gets out of trouble when Federer comes up with one of his fairly regular mishit backhands.

Second Set:

Federer 6-4 Querrey
Squeaky bum time – as Sir Alex Ferguson would put it – for Federer at 0-30 but he digs deep to find some first serves and get back to 30-30. The Swiss then wins a lengthy baseline exchange and converts his first set point by hooking a forehand down the line. Nice.

Federer 5-4 Querrey
Big Sam keeps his spirits up with a big forehand winner and then produces another at set point down. A good hold.

Federer 5-3 Querrey
Querrey might hit the serve harder but Federer’s placement is superb. One delivery leaves the flat-footed American swiping at fresh air, which is embarrassing enough if you’re down the park. A sweeping cross-court forehand gives Federer the game.

Federer 4-3 Querrey
Querrey holds easily to keep himself alive in the set.

Federer 4-2 Querrey
Federer slides into to punch a backhand volley down the line but it squeaks wide. However, the Swiss finds a couple of big serves to take the game and he looks in total charge now. To fashion matters, and white appears to be the colour of choice among Parisian women this spring. Looks like a dentists’ convention. Pretty dentists, mind.

1251: “Yay! BREAK from 0-40. That’ll break Querrey’s resolve, maybe. Oh I’m mean….”
undsoweiter on 606

Federer 3-2 Querrey
There we go – a Federer moment. He reaches out wide to get to a Querrey forehand and sends it fizzing back past the onrushing American to drop smack on the line. A burst of applause follows and, I think, the first whoop of the day. A really fine game goes to deuce, at which point Federer fires a forehand return winner down the line and Querrey follows up with a double fault. A key break of serve.

Federer 2-2 Querrey
Another simple hold for Federer and the atmosphere on Suzanne Lenglen at the moment n’existe pas. Or something. Absolute silence for the most part.

1241: “Federer will be aware that one poor service game could get him into a bit of a dogfight here.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

Federer 1-2 Querrey
Another nice backhand sends Federer scurrying fruitlessly behind the baseline and Querrey holds again.

Federer 1-1 Querrey
One flashing backhand winner down the line is a highlight for Querrey but Federer takes the game easily enough. There are considerably more people on Suzanne Lenglen court for this one than the emerging thriller between Robredo and Coria on Phillipe Chatrier. Who knows why?

Federer 0-1 Querrey
Querrey looks in trouble at 0-30 and does well to hold on.

First Set:

Federer 6-4 Querrey
After a few dodgy moments, Federer gets it right when it matters and holds serve comfortably to take the first set – it’s been very much a loosener for the Swiss and he’ll hope to step it up now.

Federer 5-4 Querrey
According to a well-known online encyclopedia, Querrey is “sometimes referred to as ‘The New Todd Martin’.” Hopefully this means he is tall and well-mannered, rather than destined for a career of near-misses and injuries. Either way, he comes through from 30-30 to hold and force Federer to serve out the set.

Federer 5-3 Querrey
Federer lets a lead slip but comes through from deuce with some decent serving. And Bolelli has finished off Baghdatis in three very easy sets, so no more from the grinning Cypriot in Paris this year.

Federer 4-3 Querrey
Scratchy stuff all round at the moment, although that’s probably not surprising bearing in mind it’s their first match and the weather isn’t exactly great. Querrey holds under little pressure from Federer. Marcos Baghdatis is on the verge of defeat to Simone Bolelli on Court Two – nice for the Italian but a shame to see Baggy struggling.

Federer 4-2 Querrey
Federer holds serve to consolidate the break and finally get a bit of daylight. Talk in the office turns to The Apprentice – Michael has got to go, apparently.

Federer 3-2 Querrey
Querrey fights back from 0-40 to deuce but two points later, Federer wins a lengthy rally with some vicious sliced backhand forcing the error. He’s back in front but it’s inconsistent stuff so far.

Federer 2-2 Querrey
Federer doesn’t make things easy for himself these days and a couple of errors hand Querrey a break point, but the Swiss takes charge with two fizzing forehands to see off the danger. Querrey then earns another with a fine forehand of his own and Federer promptly thumps one six feet long.

Federer 2-1 Querrey
Agassi’s former coach Gil Reyes is in the crowd – apparently he works on Querrey’s fitness training, which will be tested today if he plans to hang around a while. The American gets on the board with a solid hold.

Federer 2-0 Querrey
In no time at all Federer moves two games clear and it’s a very smooth start from the top seed.

Federer 1-0 Querrey
Querrey has a thumping great serve which helps me not one bit in the opening game as Federer gets to three break points at 0-40. The American saves the first with a service winner before Federer shanks a backhand on the second, but the Swiss converts the third with a big forehand into the corner.

1159: Good morning everyone, I trust you’re enjoying your Bank Holiday in traditional style by sitting in front of a screen while it buckets down outside. If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere other than the south of England I suggest you get outside and light the barbecue now, while there’s still time.

You can surely leave this one in the safe hands of Roger Federer, the world number one, twice a runner-up in Paris and trying to win the title for the first time.

Sam Querrey is 20 years old, ranked 40 in the world, from Thousand Oaks, California, and stands a lofty 6ft 6in. Being American, he’s supposed to be rubbish on clay, but he reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo recently leading some to suggest he might trouble Federer. Some, but not me.

Story from BBC SPORT

Federer v Nadal as it happened

Monte Carlo Masters

Final result:

R FEDERER (Swi) v R NADAL (Spa)

5-7 5-7

By Phil Harlow

Second set:

1602: “Well done Nadal – first championship of 2008 – most players would’ve given up at 4-0.”
noname on 606.

1559: A fantastic match for the neutral to watch – but what will it do to Federer’s confidence? The world number one has now lost seven of his eight meetings with Nadal on clay.

Federer is working with a new coach, and the new approach did seem to pay dividends at times. Can he take heart from that? Or will he be thinking that there’s no way past this amazing 21-year-old?

Federer 5-7 5-7 Nadal
This is a battle of wills – and the indomitable Nadal wins it. Federer goes 40-30 up thanks to an awesome serve but a reaction volley goes past the baseline to bring up deuce.

It’s nip-and-tuck, but a wide forehand gives Nadal match point and a long backhand hands his opponent an incredible fourth Monte Carlo Masters title in a row.

The Spaniard drops to his knees in celebration and then jogs in to shake hands with a crestfallen Federer at the net.

1551: “Federer’s level has dropped by no more than 10% and suddenly he is being humiliated. Incredible what difference a few per cent make.”
NoRtHeRnMiDz¿ on 606.

Federer 5-7 5-6 Nadal
The momentum is all with Nadal. He holds to love with some brutal shots that make Federer look ordinary. I know where my money would be if I had time to put a bet on…

Federer 5-7 5-5 Nadal
Top play from both players as Federer finally stops the rot by holding serve.

There were a couple of shots of outright genius from Federer, including a volley at full stretch with his back turned on the ball. Nadal also plays some breathtaking shots, but Federer just about does enough.

Federer 5-7 4-5 Nadal
Nadal wins his fifth game in a row in one of the most impressive turnarounds you’re ever likely to see in sport, nevermind tennis.

Federer is still playing some nice stuff on occasions, but he just seems powerless to do anything about it. A backhand, played at full stretch well behind, goes into the net from Federer and he will have to serve to stay in the match now.

1539: “Nadal has just come back like a freight train, this is incredible!!”
kingachilles on 606.

Federer 5-7 4-4 Nadal
This is an incredible turnaround, just incredible. Nadal goes 40-0 up on his opponent’s serve as Federer’s majestic form of just a few minutes ago seems to desert him.

A misjudged backhand down the line goes wide and we’re back on serve. You have to take your hat off to Nadal though. How many players would still think they had a chance at 4-0 down to the world number one?

Federer 5-7 4-3 Nadal
Great game from Nadal as he holds serve again. The next game is going to test Federer’s skills and resolve to the limit.

Federer 5-7 4-2 Nadal
Nadal goes 30-0 up on Federer’s serve, but a magnificent second serve gets the world number one up and running.

But Nadal keeps the pressure up and is rewarded for his commitment to a set most players would have given up as a bad job. Federer goes long at break point down. Surely this set can’t escape his grasp though, can it?

1525: “Federer is treating Nadal to a lesson in clay court tennis at the moment.”
Anon via text

Federer 5-7 4-1 Nadal
Both players are still giving this everything. Nadal, stung by what has happened in this set so far, finally holds serve with some vicious hitting from the back of the court. Federer throws in an exquisite winner for good measure, and the set is still firmly in his control.

Federer 5-7 4-0 Nadal
This is just incredible to watch – Federer is in absolutely sensational form. He goes 40-0 up, with his first ace of the match helping him on his way. Nadal wins one point, but Federer seals the game.

Federer 5-7 3-0 Nadal
Federer has just played one of the best games of his superlative career. Everything he touches is coming off, with one backhand – played on the rise and with the minimum of backlift – drawing gasps of admiration from the crowd.

He breaks Nadal’s serve to love. Absolutely brilliant.

Federer 5-7 2-0 Nadal
Federer is suddenly playing his best tennis of the match. A great stretch volley at the net puts him 30-0 up and a glorious forehand on the next point takes him within sight of consolidating the break.

Nadal produces some breathtaking shots to close to 40-30, but Federer seals the game after the Spaniard can only put a difficult backhand into the net.

Federer 5-7 1-0 Nadal
Impressive start from Federer as he instantly puts the disappointment of the last set behind him. He breaks Nadal in the first game of the set. We’ve still got a match on here, don’t worry about that.

1509: “Nadal will go down as the greatest clay courter of all time – even though there’s only Federer that can challenge him.”
singhsta2006 on 606

First set:

Federer 5-7 Nadal
A fantastic two-handed backhand down the line puts Nadal 30-0 up as the set gets serious. Federer wins the next point but then goes long after a lengthy rally to give Nadal two break points.

A slightly bizarre point sees Federer play a nothing shot into the middle of the court, giving Nadal every chance to put the ball away. The world number two obliges and Federer loses a set in which he broke serve twice. A massive psychological blow for the world number one.

1501: “Federer’s performance on serve will be crucial to him getting a win that could possibly define his season and even his career.”
Big talk from thebeautifulgameturnedugly on 606.

Federer 5-6 Nadal
Nadal becomes the first player to hold to love. Not a bad time to do it either. Can Federer follow suit and take us into a tie-break?

Federer 5-5 Nadal
Federer looks to be comfortably absorbing the pressure as he races into a 40-0 lead. But Nadal puts some doubts in his opponent’s mind – helped by a slight hesitancy at the net by Federer – with three smart points in a row to go to deuce.

But once again, Federer finds what is required as two tremendous first serves ensures he holds serve.

Federer 4-5 Nadal
The first ace of the match, and it really was unreturnable, takes Nadal 40-15 up. A brief exchange at the net goes Nadal’s way and the game is his. The pressure is back on Federer now.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
What is going on out there? Nadal goes 30-0 up after a surprising mishit from Federer, and three points later the Spaniard has broken back for a second time. It’s almost like a women’s game, dare I say it…

Federer 4-3 Nadal
The drop shot is becoming a real weapon for Federer. The world number one goes 40-0 up on his opponent’s serve courtesy of a delightfully worked point that leaves Nadal chasing shadows.

Nadal saves the first break point, but a lob on the next point goes well clear of the baseline to give Federer his second break of the set.

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Federer smashes a relatively easy chance into the net to allow Nadal to take the game to deuce.

A beautiful shot down the line gives Nadal a break point, but Federer suddenly ups his game with three classy points in a row to hold. This is shaping up very nicely indeed.

1435: “Federer needs some first serves if he’s going to win. He missed four or five in his first service game.”
NoRtHeRnMiDz¿ on 606

Federer 2-3 Nadal
Federer takes Nadal to deuce with some incredibly accurate shots to the very outer reaches of the court.

But Nadal keeps it together and holds serve again as Federer’s returns both go long.

Federer 2-2 Nadal
A comfortable hold for Federer. He shows great athleticism to put away a tricky overhead smash, but otherwise he is untroubled. Intriguing stuff so far.

Federer 1-2 Nadal
Nadal hold his serve as Federer goes wide of the tramlines with an improvised flick after a cunning drop shot.

But there’s enough in the play so far to give Federer plenty of encouragement. He seems to have plenty of time on the ball – doesn’t he always though? – and is getting somewhere with moving Nadal around.

Federer 1-1 Nadal
Well Federer’s lead in the set didn’t last very long. Nadal breaks back at the first time of asking with four points in a row. Something tells me we could be in for a reasonably decent match here…

Federer 1-0 Nadal
Great start for Federer as he goes 30-0 up on Nadal’s serve. A fearsome forehand down the line from Nadal gets his fans going, but on the next point Federer comes to the net and puts away a volley to give himself two break points.

Unlike some of their other meetings on clay, Federer takes it at the first time of asking as a Nadal error gives his opponent a morale-boosting early break. Blimey.

1412: Hold on to your hats. Off we go…

1409: “I really just hope that both players come out onto court pumped up and play great tennis. Nadal is the favourite but I have to pick Federer.”
The absolutely unbiased Federerprotege on 606.

1403: The players are out on court in Monte Carlo, enjoying a little practice before the serious action gets under way. Nadal looks very much at the races and fully focussed. Federer actually looks fairly relaxed, for what it’s worth.

1350: Afternoon all, we’ve got the two best players in the world going head-to-head in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. So who is your money on?

It’s the third year in a row that these two – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in case you weren’t quite sure – have faced each other in the final here.

Nadal has the edge on clay, no doubt about it. The Spaniard has a fantastic record of six wins and just one defeat against Federer on the surface.

Story from BBC SPORT

Murray v Federer as it happened

Dubai Tennis Championships

First-round result

A MURRAY (GB) v R FEDERER (Swi)

6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4

By Caroline Cheese

1712: Well, well, well. Brilliant stuff from Murray, who kept his composure after losing the first-set tiebreak from 5-2 up. Federer looked short of match practice – but it still takes a special player to hold his nerve against the world number one. Murray now has a 2-1 head-to-head record against Federer. The Briton did not face a break point in the entire match. Astonishing.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 Federer
Murray bangs down an ace to make it 40-0 and the 20-year-old delivers another huge serve down the middle to complete a fabulous win. The defending champion and world number one goes out in the first round.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 5-4 Federer
An unbelievable point. Federer somehow picks up a ferocious Murray return on the half-volley and then recovers to put away the attempted pass. That makes it 40-15 and he holds to make Murray serve out the match.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 5-3 Federer
Federer has won the title on four of his last five visits to Dubai. The other time, he only managed to reach the final. He’s staring down the barrel of a first-round exit in 2008 as Murray holds comfortably. The Briton’s serve has been awesome today.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 4-3 Federer
Federer stems the flow of games against but he needs a break of serve – and he hasn’t really come close yet.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 4-2 Federer
Fed dumps a volley into the net to give Murray a 40-15 lead and the Briton is cruising now.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 3-2 Federer
Another terrible line call. Murray is 0-40 up and thinks he has the break when Fed’s second serve is called long. Hawk-Eye says very differently so Fed has another go – but Murray simply blasts a forehand at the world number one and he can’t deal with the pace. What a chance for Murray now…

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 2-2 Federer
No sniff of a break point for the world number one there. Love service game from Murray.

“Rog hasn’t had a single break point today!!!!!!!”
JonnyFedFan on 606

And that stat does deserve seven exclamation marks Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 1-2 Federer
Federer seems to have recovered some form as he holds to 15. We could be in for a blockbuster finish…

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 1-1 Federer
Murray is pegged back to deuce in unfortunate circumstances. He’s ready to hit a short ball for a winner when a line judge inexplicably calls it out. Murray laughs it off – but it could have been crucial. The point is replayed and Fed wins it – but Murray takes the game after a couple of deuces. The crowd are definitely behind the Brit.

“You absolute beauty Murray. I am unashamedly kissing the computer screen right now! The reign of the Fed Express is over…”
Maudinio in Bath, via text on 81111
Calm down, Maudinio, it’s not over yet…

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 0-1 Federer
Murray’s got this crowd in the palm of his hand now as he unleashes another spectacular forehand winner to move 30-15 up. Federer responds with a horrible backhand error, giving Murray two break points. Fed saves both but he’s clinging on here. The world number one’s gone off the boil in a big way – but Murray has to take some of the credit for that.

“Murray has the game to challenge Fed. Awesome service game.”
Marc, Gloucesteshire, via text on 81111

Second set

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 Federer
Federer challenges a call on the baseline but he’s wrong so Murray gets two set points. An ace seals it – and we’re into a decider. Brilliant recovery from Murray.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 5-3 Federer
Murray has a little chuckle with the umpire after his lob narrowly misses the baseline. Will he be as relaxed as he goes to serve out this set?

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 5-2 Federer
Love service game. That was a quickfire – and I must say, unexpected – turnaround and suddenly Murray’s on a roll.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 4-2 Federer
What am I saying? A break point! Our first of the day! And it’s to Murray! Federer is disgusted with himself as he goes long and Murray makes the most of it with a brilliant forehand pass. And with the way the Brit’s serving…

“I believe Andy Murray is gonna be the best! But when is it gonna happen?”
Via text on 81111
Not today anyway…

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 3-2 Federer
At 30-15 down, Federer produces one of the best backhand drop volleys I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I don’t know quite how he did it. Murray does well to recover, his serve once again doing all the damage.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 2-2 Federer
Fed’s backhand might be a bit off but his volleying has been impeccable. A quickfire game there and we’re all square again.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 2-1 Federer
It’s deuce – only the second time a game has gone to deuce I think. Fed lets Murray off the hook though by completely shanking a backhand. The world number one’s backhand hasn’t looked great today, it has to be said. By his stupidly high standards anyway.

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 1-1 Federer
Federer stretches to put away the smash and in doing so, levels up the set. Interesting point about Murray’s hair there. Mind you, a new ‘do’ didn’t do Federer any harm did it? He’s been even better since getting rid of the ponytail.

“I wonder if the hair was the source of Murray’s power? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. A bit like Samson. But Scottish. Obviously.”
Richey in Weymouth, via text on 81111

Murray 6-7 (6-8) 1-0 Federer
Someone just asked me if Murray choked in that tiebreak. That would be very, very harsh. If you were being hyper-critical, I suppose you might accuse Murray of playing a bit too safe. This is a huge test for the Brit now but he’s off to a good start – holding to 30.

First set

Murray 6-7 (6-8) Federer
The first mini-break goes to Murray as Fed goes long off a terrific return from the Scot. Some more brutal serving from the 20-year-old puts him 5-2 ahead but crucially he then misses a relatively easy return. He smacks his racket – sensing a missed opportunity – and he is proved right. Murray belts a forehand into the net to concede the break. You rarely get a second chance against Federer and the world number one snatches the breaker with a huge forehand Murray can’t handle.

Murray 6-6 Federer
Murray heeds The Nameless One’s call – just about. Federer wins the point of the match so far, Murray hitting a shot round the net only for the Swiss master to half-volley it back onto the baseline and beyond the Scot’s reach. Phenomenal. He gets to 30-30 but Murray responds with a brilliant volley on the stretch. The crowd are loving this now.

“Don’t you dare get broken now Andy.”
The Nameless One on 606

Murray 5-6 Federer
Murray is like a terrier out there, chasing down an angled drop volley and forcing Fed into an error. No worries for the world number one, though. He holds to 30.

Murray 5-5 Federer
Lucky boy Murray. He tempts Fed into the net with a drop shot and then mis-hits the pass – but it has so much top-spin on it, it drops onto the baseline. That makes it 30-0 and he goes on to wrap up a love game with an ace. No break points so far.

Murray 4-5 Federer
Well, this is really flying by isn’t it? Great quality so far but the sparks are yet to fly. Pressure all on Muzza now…

Murray 4-4 Federer
Solid serving again from Murray – who isn’t giving Fed any rhythm on his return. Crunch time approaching…

Murray 3-4 Federer
“Yup,” comes the response from Muzza as Fed whips a forehand down the line to bring up 40-0. The world number one looks like he really fancies it today.

Murray 3-3 Federer
Great serving from Muzza in this opening spell. That’s his first love game.

“C’mon Murray. Not to put too much on it, but this game could make or break his season…”
MontheDano1 on 606

Good for you, not putting too much on it. Murray 2-3 Federer
Federer produces an miraculous backhand volley on the stretch to get himself to game point. Let’s hope that’s a taste of things to come.

Murray 2-2 Federer
One of Murray’s fans is wearing a Tam O’Shanter hat – not the best choice of headwear in scorching Dubai I wouldn’t have thought. Muzza’s in a bit of trouble at deuce but he places a backhand down the line to get back on track.

“I think Andy will win this one, especially if he starts well. He’s had more matches and is in better form.”
Ajeet, Notts, via text on 81111

Murray 1-2 Federer
Another comfortable hold for Federer, who is playing his first match since his semi-final defeat by Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open back in January.

Murray 1-1 Federer
Fed rifles a backhand onto the line to make it 15-15 but Murray hits back with a couple of aces and he’s off the mark in impressive style.

Murray 0-1 Federer
Federer opens the defence of his title with two straight aces and goes on to hold to love. He looks in the mood folks.

1512: Away we go then. Fed to serve…

1511: “Which Murray will turn up? The world beater or the first-round loser? My money’s on a classic!”
ROCKFMBUS on 606

1510: So who’s your money on (proverbially speaking. We don’t encourage actual betting)? Let me know via text on 81111 or join in the chat over on 606 .
1506: I think Andy won the coin toss and chose to receive. It was a bit difficult to hear because the night crowd in Dubai are super excited about this match – and so am I.

1503: And the big news is… Andy Murray has finally had his unruly hair cut. Very tidy it is too. Thank goodness.

1500: Andy Murray hasn’t had the luck of the draw this year has he? He picks out Jo-Willy Tsonga in Melbourne then gets world number one Roger Federer in Dubai. Still, we’re not complaining. This has all the makings of a belter…

Story from BBC SPORT

Djokovic v Tsonga as it happened


Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s final result:

N DJOKOVIC (Ser) bt J-W TSONGA (Fra)

4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-2)

 

By Piers Newbery

1211: Good old NoDjo. He thanks everyone and then says to the crowd, “I know you wanted him to win more than me.” That raises a laugh and seems a good way to go out. Thanks for your attention over the last couple of weeks, come back for the French Open armed with some new tennis nicknames.

1201: “Well done Djokovic, step aside Nadal and Federer there is a new force in tennis.”
From cantonabeachsoccer on 606

1158: “Djokovic has proved himself on all surfaces and he’s already reached another Grand Slam final at the US Open. He’s got the shots and he’s a super, super athlete with all the power as well.”
Pat Cash on 5 Live Sports Extra

1157: “Enjoyed that last set – it was amazing and Tsonga u r a winner 2 ! Congrats Novak!”
From Elizabeth May Pink via text

Fourth set:

Djokovic 7-6 (7-2) Tsonga
There we have it – a first Grand Slam title for 20-year-old Djokovic. He gets a mini-break on the second point and all but makes sure when Tsonga double-faults to go 5-1 down. Djokovic gets two serves for the title and takes both points to cap a superb performance, before falling to the floor in the traditional manner. There are hugs and tears all around in the Djokovic box, and quite right too.

Djokovic 6-6 Tsonga
Tsonga misses a backhand for 15-15 but responds with a magnificent forehand into the corner and a big service winner. The Frenchman then chooses a bad time for his first double fault of the evening but hangs on and it’s a tie-break. My, what tension.

1143: “You forgot NadRa!! (See 1128 entry) How could you!!”
From Lauren, leeds, via text (Er, yeah)

Djokovic 6-5 Tsonga
Djokovic is pulled wide and makes a forehand error for 30-30, and he then sticks a regulation backhand into the net. It’s break point but Djokovic gets away with it after a poor drop shot as Tsonga fails to put away a mid-court ball and NoDjo takes the volley. He serves out for a huge hold.

1138: “Yannick Noah is indeed the last French player to win a set in a Grand Slam final (1041 entry) when he won the French Open in 1983. Both Henri Leconte and Cédric Pioline (twice) reached finals, but they were defeated in straight sets.”
From meef01 on 606

Djokovic 5-5 Tsonga
Tsonga plays a superb off-forehand winner when stumbling backwards at 15-15 and moments later he has the game. Good stuff, JoTso.

Djokovic 5-4 Tsonga
Another excellent hold from Djokovic, who throws in a fine volley off his toes, and Tsonga must hold to keep the match alive.

1131: “It’s 20 years since a five-set final here, hard to believe. Me against Wilander.”
Pat Cash on 5 Live Sports Extra (He lost, kids. Sorry Pat)

Djokovic 4-4 Tsonga
Great work from Tsonga who is under huge pressure at 30-30 but holds his nerve, taking the game with a big serve.

1128: “New names for players. NoDjo, JoTso, RFed. Anymore??”
From Vicky via text (Loads – Nalbo, Muzza, NiDav, A-Rod, Gonzo, Baggy, Boggy, Ljubo. I have too much time on my hands)

Djokovic 4-3 Tsonga
Well, NoDjo answers any questions about his fitness with a superb game rounded off with a beautiful drop volley on the stretch.

1125: “I see what you did there – whether or not it goes to a fifth set you’ve made correct prediction (see 1-0 entry). You wily thing.”
From anon via text (Rumbled. And don’t call me Wily)

Djokovic 3-3 Tsonga
Wallop. Tsonga holds serve to love and now we’ll see how Djokjovic is doing after his lengthy treatment session.

1122: “I guess it’s loss of a bit of condition. I’m not a big fan of players being able to do this. I don’t think he’s in any physical danger at all and I think he’s gaining an unfair advantage just when the momentum seemed to be going a little bit with Tsonga.”
From BBC Sport’s Andrew Castle

1117: “Its a bit like watching Ali vs Screech from saved by the bell.. “
From anon via text

Djokovic 3-2 Tsonga
Djokovic really isn’t moving too well now, in fact both men look petty shattered. A net cord goes against Tsonga as he falls to 40-15 behind before battling back for deuce. NoDjo holds on with a big second serve and asks fro the trainer at the changeover.

1113: “Regarding the text from Nathan of Cardiff at 1054, he’s referring to the Magpie rhyme. You know, the one that goes, “1 for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl … ” and all that. Although, Tsonga would just be wishing for 1 beak to come back into this game.”
From silverplumes on 606

Djokovic 2-2 Tsonga
Look out – the big man from Le Mans appears to be back and now it’s Djokovic who is hobbling around after possibly tweaking a hamstring. Or getting cramp. Maybe he’s broken a nail, I don’t know. Anyway, Tsonga holds to love.

Djokovic 2-1 Tsonga
Tsonga has a glimpse of a chance at 40-30 down but blazes a forehand into the tram lines and Djokovic moves ahead again.

1104: “Magpies? Noah? Is the only way to get on this page to talk utter nonsense?!”
From Joe, london, via text (Yep)

1103: “I saw many lone magpies this morning and saluted them all!! Come on djokovic!! I wish nadal was in the final.”
From anon via text

Djokovic 1-1 Tsonga
There are more signs of tiredness from Tsonga but he hangs on.

Djokovic 1-0 Tsonga
NoDjo absolutely creams a forehand for a winner at 40-0 and he looks in great form now. I’ve just remembered I predicted Djokovic in four sets. I’ve never got a prediction right in my life, so prepare for a fifth set.

Third set:

Djokovic 6-3 Tsonga
A very tired looking mid-court forehand into the net suggests Tsonga is there for the taking at 0-30. He puts up a desperate lob that is eventually called out and fails with a challenge. Tsonga saves the first two set points, firing a cross-court pass on the second, and Djokovic nets a backhand on the third to the delight of most of the crowd.

Djokovic is unconcerned and smacks yet another backhand down the line. Set point number four – but his attempted lob is poor and Tsonga smashes it away. A fifth chance arrives and this time Tsonga saves it with as service winner. Never fear, set point number six – cue a Tsonga drop volley. Finally, Djokovic takes the set when forcing a Tsonga error on the volley. Phew.

1054: “I just saw 2 magpies out my window. In the song 2s for joy. Come on tsonga.”
From Nathan, cardiff, via text (I’ve no idea either)

Djokovic 5-3 Tsonga
A brilliant backhand down the line seals a solid hold for Djokovic and he looks very much on course for the set now.

Djokovic 4-3 Tsonga
A sweeping forehand gives Tsonga the game to 30 and keeps him in touch on this set.

1041: “Djokovic on a roll now, hope Tsonga cn respond. He’s th 1st Fr finalist 2 win a set since Noah!”
From French fan via text

Djokovic 4-2 Tsonga
Aaah, that’s better. Djokovic is in a bit of trouble at 15-30 but then sticks a backhand return into the net. Moments later, Tsonga complains for the second time today about how long Djokovic takes to serve but Carlos Ramos is not impressed and the Serb goes on to hold.

1037: “Why all this fuss about both players names starting with a silent letter? (See 1029 entry) They dont. We brits are just bad at languages.”
From anon via text

Djokovic 3-2 Tsonga
Tsonga holds to 15, very good. I need a comfort break.

Djokovic 3-1 Tsonga
Djokovic holds to 15. The massed ranks of Djokovics in the stands continue to applaud on thier feet. They’re all wearing matching tracksuits, making them easy to pick out. Lovely.

1029: “Hey Piers, is this the first final ever in which: Both players’ surnames’ first letter is silent (D in Djokovic and T in Tsonga) And in which both players’ surnames’ first vowel is an o? Cheers.”
From Torres’ right peg on 606 (Brilliant questions both. Dunno.)

Djokovic 2-1 Tsonga
The trademark Djokovic backhand down the line comes out and he has two break points at 15-40. The first disappears with a forehand that goes long and Tsonga hits an ace on the second. A third break point comes along and after a lengthy rally, Tsonga sends a forehand wide.

1023: “Goodness knows what odds Tsonga was at the start of the tournament amid all the Murray hype! 100-1?”
From Ken, Aberdeen, via text

Djokovic 1-1 Tsonga
I hate apostrophes. Anyway, Djokovic holds just as impressively and both men look sharp in this vital set.

Djokovic 0-1 Tsonga
A good solid start to the third set from Tsonga on serve, no problem. In the middle of this madness I’m emailed by a friend wanting me to help him with his son’s English homework. This country.

Second set:

1017: “Tsonga has to get his serve working again but, to be honest, he’s just been a bit loose. It’s a critical time now and he wants some big serves and to tighten up that forehand.”
Pat Cash on 5 Live Sports Extra

Djokovic 6-4 Tsonga
Tight, shmite. Djokovic hits two aces on his way to a mightily imrpessive love hold and we’re all square.

Djokovic 5-4 Tsonga
A few signs of irritation come from Tsonga as he continues to struggle a bit, but he holds serve to force Djokovic to serve out, and the Serb has been know to get tight. Haven’t we all?

1009: “Tsonga is playin as if hes no 3 in the world and ndjo playin as if its his 1st ever final. Needs this set 2 hav any chance.”
From J in crawley via text

Djokovic 5-3 Tsonga
Suddenly it’s Tsonga who has lost his mojo, whatever that is. The errors start to flow from his previously awesome forehand and Djokovic consolidates the break of serve.

Djokovic 4-3 Tsonga
He’s back! After being on the wrong ending of a pummelling for most of the evening, Djokovic fires a backhand return past Tsonga to get to 15-40 and two break points. At last we have some fire from the Serb and he takes his chance when Tsonga misses a forehand.

Djokovic 3-3 Tsonga
Djokovic gets a much-needed love service game.

0958: “Beautiful style and sense of purpose from Tsonga! He is inventive and incredibly calm considering he is playing his first ever final of an ATP tournament (let alone a GS).”
From UncleAdrian on 606

Djokovic 2-3 Tsonga
Djokovic chases down a drop shot to get to deuce but Tsonga comes up with the deadly one-two combination of serve-forehand and comes through, giving it some “Allez!” Djokovic, meanwhile, wanders off court for the changeover shaking his head.

0954: Our man in the Rod Laver Arena press room tells me that the French reporters went bananas as Tsonga took the first set, screaming “Allez”, “Magnifique” etc etc. Then one of them turned around to our man and said: “This could have been you, but your guy lost on day one to our guy”. Nice.

Djokovic 2-2 Tsonga
It’s not often that Djokovic is the more low-key of the players on court but it’s not just Tsonga’s play that is giving him the edge, it’s his sheer charisma that seems to have stunned NoDjo. The third seed does well to come back from 0-30 but he’s finding this tougher and tougher.

0948: “Tsonga was born in Le Mans so is bound to win if it becomes a trial of endurance. Also he has a brother named Enzo.”
From Marc, Liverpool, via text

Djokovic 1-2 Tsonga
Tsonga holds with more big serving and one very sharp backhand volley.

Djokovic 1-1 Tsonga
A ddogy forehand sees Djokovic slip to 15-30 and he does well to get himself out of trouble, but he’s looking very flat at the moment.

Djokovic 0-1 Tsonga
Tsonga holds confidently and Djokovic looks in shock(ovic). Sorry about that.

First set:

0938: “After seeing Tsonga last year, i said ‘that boy will be top ten in no time’. Where would a win here put him in the rankings? Is this his best surface do we know?”
from anon via text (It’s like the Spanish inquisition – apparently a win would put Tsonga ninth in the world, up from 38, and I’m guessing it’s his favourite surface now)

0937: “Those last two points were two of the best you will ever see. Just an excellent set of tennis, and to finish like this – it’s a joke, ridiculous.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Djokovic 4-6 Tsonga
Tsonga really takes charge with a fierce backhand on his way to 0-30 ahead and is unlucky when an apparent forehand winner jumps off the net-cord and goes out. Djokovic gets back to 30-30 but Tsonga comes up with a stunning forehand winner off a smash, and then works the crowd with some wild celebrations. Good stuff. It’s set point, and he makes it with an amazing lob on the run. Tsonga’s dad then gets in on the fist-pumping act and the place goes wild.

Djokovic 4-5 Tsonga
The Tsonga serve is up and running now – three aces in a row give him a comfortable hold and he certainly has the edge right now.

Djokovic 4-4 Tsonga
Another close Djokovic service game is in the balance at 40-30 when Tsonga complains to the umpire about the time it takes for the Serb to serve, after his endless ball bouncing. That should spice things up a bit. Tsonga misses a makeable forehand at deuce and Djokovic wallops an ace to hold.

Djokovic 3-4 Tsonga
Blimey, we’ve been going 35 minutes and played seven games. Wish I’d made a packed lunch now. Anyway, Tsonga is in a bit of trouble at 15-30 but chooses a good time to smack down his first two aces of the match and holds from deuce.

0917: “French Fan: Bonjour. If Tsonga wins this 1, I’ll play tennis agn – which I haven’t in 4 yrs. Allez”
From Jo :) via text

Djokovic 3-3 Tsonga
More laughter all round over a line call, which involves an overrule, a Hawkeye challenge and apparently a joke from umpire Carlos Ramos that I couldn’t hear. The crowd are in stitches. Are we sure Mansour Bahrami isn’t there somewhere? When everyone pulls themselves together, Djokovic holds.

0913: “Five games of highly entertaining tennis given the occasion. Tsonga was up early and practising on Rod Laver Arena at 9am, while Djokovic was here only a few hours ago.”
BBC Sport’s Chris Bailey

Djokovic 2-3 Tsonga
The first rally is another belter – a bit like watching one of those ‘hilarious’ exhibitions with Mansour Bahrami but performed by two brilliant athletes under the age of 60. Tsonga leaps for a smash a la Sampras and Djokvic does well to reach it and send up a lob, but Tsonga leaps even higher and sticks it away. Another tight game goes to deuce but the Frenchman holds on, his parents clapping away furiously in the stands.

0910: “I’m backing Tsonga for this one. I feel though that Djoko’s experience may do something. But didn’t Rafa have that experience as well…?”
From Maxxfoot on 606

Djokovic 2-2 Tsonga
Djokovic still looks a little edgy, making the first double fault of the match when 30-0 clear, and Tsonga puts the pressure on with a fabulous drop volley. Djokovic then nets a forehand and it’s break point again, but this time the Serb comes up with an ace down the middle. He then digs out a seemingly miraculous cross-court backhand pass but the umpire overrules, and Hawkeye backs him up. Break point number two and in an epic point, NoDjo repeats the backhand from the previous rally and this time makes it. Incredible stuff. A woeful drop shot follows soon after but Djokovic comes through.

0857: “Pressure affects players in different ways – my feet always used to turn to lead, I felt like I couldn’t move, so I’d just charge into the net to try and do something.”
Pat Cash on 5 Live Sports Extra

Djokovic 1-2 Tsonga
Apparently Cedric Pioline has flown in especially to see his young countryman in action. Oh, the glamour. Tsonga withstands the pressure of being under the former Wimbledon finalists’s gaze by holding to 15 in a much more impressive game.

Djokovic 1-1 Tsonga
Tsonga makes the first Hawkeye challenge of the day on a Djokovic serve and gets it right – the ball was well wide – but NoDjo wins the replayed point anyway. This time it’s the Serb who looks tight, though, when he spoons a forehand way wide from 30-30 and then nets a backhand. Tsonga gets the break back and Djokovic looks less than pleased.

Djokovic 1-0 Tsonga
Tsonga looks like he’s carrying on where he left off against Nadal when a big forehand and winning serve get him to 30-15, but he then sends a couple of regulation forehands long. Nerves, surely. It’s an early break point for Djokovic and he takes it with a sweeping forehand into the corner.

0845: “We’ve seen the potential of Tsonga in the last few years but to me it’s as if he’s matured as a player during these two weeks. Quite remarkable.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

0842: “Experience counts and you have to favour Novak initially but you have to see how it starts in the first set. If Jo-Wilfried can handle it, then it’s going to be on.”
Jim Courier on 5 Live Sports Extra

0840: “Djokovic is very popular. He’s a good kid, plays great tennis and is fun in front of the camera, but the bottom line is he’s done his talking with his racket.”
Pat Cash on 5 Live Sports Extra

0838: They step out on Rod laver Arena to a huge cheer, Tsonga already jumping around in excitement. There look to be large French and Serbian contingents in the crowd so there should be a good atmosphere.

0836: The two players are stopped on their way onto court for a brief word with Todd Woodbridge. “It’s very exciting and I’ll do my best,” says Tsonga. And Djokovic adds: “It’s going to be very difficult but I’m playing against someone who doesn’t have anything to lose.” So there you go.

0833: “Tsonga has taken it all in his stride. He has just emerged from the pack to become the first of the young Frenchmen to reach a Grand Slam final. There’s no doubt he’s great for the game, a superstar in the making.”
BBC Sport’s Andrew Castle

0828: Those who were with me yesterday will remember the choir of angelic little Aussies singing thier national anthem while bizarrely dressed as chefs. Well look out, the Australian yoof are back, and a cracking rendition it is too.

0825: Apparently that wasn’t The Veronicas, they were on earlier and are a couple of vivacious twin girls. That was Evermore. Wish I’d got here a bit earlier. Anyway, you still have time to follow the match on BBC TWO, 5 Live Sports Extra, or via the streaming on this website. You really can’t beat text-based coverage of tennis though.

0820: We’re being treated to music on the Rod Laver Arena from a band that our woman in the stadium, Caroline Cheese, informs me are called The Veronicas. I wouldn’t bother making a note of the name.

0815: Morning everyone, welcome to a sun-drenched Melbourne for the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Via Shepherd’s Bush.

It’s not the final anyone would have predicted but given the pair’s thumping of top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the semis, it certainly features two worthy contenders.

The pair have never played each other before but world number three Djokovic starts as favourite on paper, having won seven career titles and reached last year’s US Open final.

Game isn’t played on paper though, is it? It’s played on good old-fashioned Plexicushion, something which is clearly to Tsonga’s liking.

He may be unseeded and playing in his first senior final of any kind but he has seen off Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet, Mikhail Youzhny and demolished Nadal in the past fortnight.

So who’s going to win? I’m going for Djokovic in four, but exactly a year ago I tipped Fernando Gonzalez to beat Federer in the final. Idiot.

Story from BBC SPORT

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