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5 things to look for Wednesday at the French Open

June 3, 2014

PARIS (AP) — Five things to look for Wednesday at the French Open:

MURRAY AND ‘LA MONF’: Here’s a sign of how much the locals are looking forward to seeing the last Frenchman in the tournament, Gael Monfils, take on Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of Britain in the quarterfinals — that match was scheduled for Court Philippe Chatrier, the main stadium at Roland Garros, while the rematch of the 2013 final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer was pushed over to Court Suzanne Lenglen. The No. 7-seeded Murray and No. 23 Monfils are both trying to get to the French Open semifinals for the second time, and expect a loud partisan crowd to give full-throated backing to the man known as ‘La Monf.’

GO TO YOUTUBE: Monfils is a true showman and entertainer, sometimes to the detriment of his success at tennis. But there’s no question that he will make you take notice, whether he’s in a break-dancing contest with another French player, Laurent Lokoli, right there on center court the day before the tournament began (check that out on YouTube) ... or diving sideways through the air, parallel to the ground, to reach a shot (that one’s on YouTube, too). “He loves playing in front of a big crowd,” Murray said. “He’s a great athlete. Maybe the best we have had in tennis.”

THE REMATCH: The No. 1-seeded Nadal is 63-1 — yes, 63-1! — for his French Open career heading into his all-Spanish quarterfinal against No. 5 Ferrer. Nadal is also 21-6 against Ferrer, including a straight-set victory in last year’s final at Roland Garros. But both men are well aware of this: In their most recent match, April 18 on red clay at the Monte Carlo Masters, Ferrer beat Nadal in straight sets. Asked whether he would derive confidence from that result, Ferrer replied: “No, no, I don’t think so,” noting that match was best-of-three-sets and on Wednesday, they’ll be playing best-of-five.

EVERY FIVE YEARS: Maria Sharapova isn’t the only past French Open champion still around in the women’s draw. Svetlana Kuznetsova won the tournament in 2009, and her other Grand Slam title came at the U.S. Open in 2004. So every five years, Kuznetsova wins a major trophy. And, yes, it has occurred to her that it’s been five years since her most recent triumph. “Everybody,” Kuznetsova said, “talks about it.” The 27th-seeded Kuznetsova faces No. 4 Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

TRYING FOR FIRST MAJOR SEMI: Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is 0-3 in Grand Slam quarterfinals heading into her match against Italy’s Sara Errani, who is trying to reach the semis at Roland Garros for the third year in a row, including a runner-up finish in 2012. Their post-victory news conferences Monday after the fourth round could hardly have been more different: Petkovic waxed on about her favorite writers, name-checking folks such as Sartre and Camus, while Errani read a statement criticizing Italian media members, saying things she’s said “have been manipulated, distorted or changed.”


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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