Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Roland Garros Fun Day 1

One day you’re in a final and the next year you don’t even make the second round. It’s a grim business this tennis circuit.

Sure the sun may be shining and the clay court technicians might be finding their angles and sliding into their shots but Dinara Safina was top spinning incarnate.

The former world number one was a double break up in the final set against the 39 year old Japanese player Kimiko Date Krumm.

But Safina, blew her lead, going down 7-5 in the decider. Safina’s elder brother, Marat, was renowned for blazing winners and glazing out of the zone.

A distinctly dazed Safina said after her defeat that she saw her opponent starting to suffer from cramps.
But rather than focusing on her own game, she committed the cardinal sin and let her concentration drift.
Fatal in tennis terms. Perhaps a family trait. But touchingly humane.

Date Krumm played her first French Open more than two decades ago. Indeed little Dinara was toddling around the kindergarten in her native Moscow when Ms Date was testing her mettle in the Parisian dirt.

Date added Krumm to her name after hitching up with the German racing driver Michael Krumm and it was his yen to see her play competitively that led her to return from a 12 year retirement in 2008.

Date Krumm is 40 in four months and I’d like to think that Safina took pity on a veritable grande dame in a grand slam.

There’s no such concept of succour in the house of Rafael Nadal. The king of clay was in all conquering form against the French 18 year old Gianni Mina.

As one of the top junior players in the world you could say Mina is a major with the minors.

He had a bash with the playground’s alpha male instead of revising for his forthcoming Baccalaureat.

The good thing about going up against the four times champion is that he won’t have to worry about missing more revision period.

Beaten 6-2 6-2 6-2 in two hours 22 minutes. It was a lesson.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Star Gazer

There are times in the Eurostar lounge whenit all seems worthwhile. The tennis world was over in the west of Paris at the French Open and I was on the train back to London.

I walked into the frequent travellers lounge and lo I noticed Ken Loach engaged auteur extraordinaire. I wanted to go up and say something but modesty forbad. Besides what can you say other than liked your films, look forward to seeing the latest.

I declined but he went up in my estimation because the woman he was travelling with loooked about his age. I'm sure that if I were a famous international art house director, I'd be going round with at least my third or fourth wife.

Only because that's what famous film directors are supposed to do. Not because I'm actually fickle.

Having resisted the temptation to go and hail Loach, I caved in when Ronnie Corbett entered. He looked so approachable. Not surprising really since I've been letting him into my sitting room for all my life.

I saw him and he had such a radiant face that I went up to him (and the lady accompanying him) and said something along the lines of sorry to disturb you but for all the hours of fun and laughter - thanks. Don't want to disturb you any more....

But we got talking and he and the lady asked me what I did and we had a rabbit about journalism and why they were in Paris.

I got into the office and recounted to my colleagues my brief interactions with the stars. One asked if Ronnie Corbett was really small.

I said he is shorter than me but I felt as if I was looking up to someone.

And of course I was. His brand of humour had put him right up there.