Tennis Identity

French Crowd Hopeful Over The Line

There is nothing worse than watching an injured tennis player going through the motions. Each miss is greeted with a grimace, and every winner with an exclamation of joy. Yes, it’s confusing, and try playing against it.

This is what the young Jennifer Brady (above) of the United States was playing against when she faced French #1 Kristina Mladenovic (below) in their first round encounter. It wasn’t tennis of the standard we are accustomed to from Mladenovic, in what was a very “in and out” match. The French crowd have high hopes for Mladenovic and for the first time in her career she is the home favourite with a winning streak going into Roland Garros. She didn’t manage expectations well.

The first set was all about Brady. An assured performance with winners from both wings led to a 6-3 set and the second belonged to Mladenovic by the same score line. She suddenly raised her game and you sensed the match was on. Don’t hold your breath.

The third set must have be one of the worst sets of tennis I have ever seen. By this stage, the combined unforced error count was up to 77. You must be doing something very wrong to have notched up such a total. Frustrating, neither player could take opportunities presented to them. Double faults were coming at the speed of lightning.

We are at 3-3 and what followed was a constant trade of breaks, and at 6-6 Mladenovic questions a line call that led to another break. Like most questioning of line calls, it changes nothing, and becomes used more as a tactic, as players stall for time.

Speaking of time, at two hours and 56 minutes into the match, Mladenovic has a third chance to serve it out with a 8-7 lead. She went on to do just that. The first two points were won with convincing approaches to the net and well placed forehand volleys. These were rare winners in the game, as with 91 unforced errors between the two of them, anyone could have been the winner. The French crowd remain hopeful and Mladenovic must be counting her lucky stars.

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