FRENCH OPEN 2020: Serena needs extra; Djokovic underneath scrutiny

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, checks a line judge after inadvertently hitting her with a ball in reaction to losing a point to Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in New York. Djokovic defaulted the match. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, checks a line choose after inadvertently hitting her with a ball in response to shedding a degree to Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, in the course of the fourth spherical of the US Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in New York. Djokovic defaulted the match. (AP Picture/Seth Wenig)


Serena Williams received her first Grand Slam title at age 17 and now that she’s pushing 40, she’s nonetheless making it to the late phases of main tournaments.

Spectacular as that could be, it’s not sufficient for her. She needs a 24th Grand Slam singles trophy.


“A semifinal is all the time nice. Is it nice for me? Completely not. That’s simply how I really feel. That’s how I all the time really feel,” Williams stated in Paris on Saturday, her 39th birthday and the day earlier than the pandemic-postponed French Open begins.

“I imply, I’m ready in my profession the place I can’t be happy,” she stated. “I don’t need to sit right here and say, ‘Oh, I’m completely satisfied.’ As a result of I’m not.”

Since setting an Open-era file together with her 23rd main singles championship on the 2017 Australian Open whereas pregnant, Williams has reached 4 Grand Slam finals, shedding every. She made it to the semifinals on the U.S. Open two weeks in the past, when she stretched her left Achilles tendon and misplaced in three units to Victoria Azarenka.


Just one participant in tennis historical past has received extra Grand Slam singles titles: Margaret Court docket, who collected 24 throughout the novice eras.

Serbia's Novak Đjoković lifts his trophy after winning his match with Argentina's Diego Sebastián Schwartzman during their final match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)

Serbia’s Novak Đjoković lifts his trophy after profitable his match with Argentina’s Diego Sebastián Schwartzman throughout their ultimate match on the Italian Open tennis match, in Rome, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse through AP)


“I wouldn’t be enjoying if I didn’t assume I may carry out,” stated Williams, who flew from New York to Paris to rehab her Achilles and practice on clay courts at her coach’s academy. “I’m not at 100%, bodily. However I don’t know any athlete that ever performs … once they’re feeling excellent.”

As for turning 39?

“I actually by no means thought I might be enjoying at my age. I imply, I don’t fairly look 39,” Williams joked. “However, yeah, I don’t know when it’s going to cease for me. I simply have enjoyable. After I really feel it’s over, it’s over. However I may have assured and just about guess my life that I might not have been enjoying at 39. That is why I don’t guess.”


Listed here are different issues to know in regards to the 2020 French Open:


Novak Djokovic already would have been intently watched in Paris — he’s, in spite of everything, ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 1 and received 5 of seven Grand Slam tournaments to boost his whole to 17 main titles, closing the hole with Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).


Now Djokovic’s each emotion might be scrutinized at a match he received in 2016, as a result of it his first Grand Slam look since getting disqualified on the U.S. Open this month for unintentionally hitting a line choose with a ball hit in anger after dropping a recreation within the fourth spherical.

“That’s one thing that’s clearly staying in my thoughts after what occurred in New York. It’s going to remain there for a very long time. After all, I’ll ensure that I don’t make the identical mistake twice. It occurred. No matter occurred, occurred. I needed to settle for it and transfer on. After all, it was a shock for me and lots of people. However that’s life, that’s sport. This stuff can occur,” Djokovic stated Saturday.

“However I don’t assume that this may have any vital destructive influence on how I really feel on the tennis court docket.”


He famous his title final week on the Italian Open in his return to to motion.

“I didn’t really feel any sort of emotional disturbance or issue to really have the ability to play or nonetheless specific my feelings in no matter manner,” Djokovic stated. “After all, I attempt to hold my destructive reactions on the court docket as (few) as doable. However I suppose it occurs as nicely. I’m not going to be down on myself due to that.”



It appears fairly clear that the coronavirus will hover over the French Open very like it did the U.S. Open, with check outcomes as newsworthy as tennis outcomes. In spite of everything, the COVID-19 outbreak is why the match was moved from Could till now. Greater than a half-dozen gamers already had been dropped from competitors — qualifying or the principle draw — both as a result of they examined optimistic in Paris or got here in touch with somebody who did. One former member of the High 10 and a previous Grand Slam semifinalist, Fernando Verdasco, stated he was kicked out of the French Open due to what he believes was a false optimistic. With the variety of virus instances in France rising, day by day spectators shall be restricted to 1,000, with 750 ticket-holders (who shall be chosen by lottery) and 250 folks in VIP or sponsor seating. “It’s not the match I performed in earlier than,” eighth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils stated. “It received’t be the identical match I dreamed of.”


Brrrr. With a fall-time French Open changing the same old spring-time setting, the forecast requires near-daily rain — good factor there’s lastly a $55 million retractable roof on Court docket Philippe Chatrier — and temperatures within the low 60s Fahrenheit (round 16-18 Celsius) throughout Week 1. “Just a little bit bizarre,” 2018 champion Simona Halep stated. “It’s a little bit too chilly, to be trustworthy.” She and different gamers have famous that the nippiness can have an effect on play, too, making balls zip by means of the air much less rapidly. Then again, this was 2016 French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza’s tackle the circumstances: “I don’t actually care (about) the climate or the month. I’m simply completely satisfied to be right here competing.”


AP Sports activities Writers Jerome Pugmire and John Leicester in Paris contributed.

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