Tennis: Kuerten stays cool and tries to keep focus on his game

THERE is a tradition here for sportswear manufacturers to utilise the entire side of a building to promote a leading player. Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Mary Pierce are among those who have been featured in the past. This year a Brazilian dominates Porte d'Auteuil, a stroll away from Roland Garros. The figure is not Gustavo Kuerten, the defending French Open champion, but Ronaldo.

The footballer is so big that his left arm extends to the side an an adjacent building. Whether he will arrive in person to watch his the progress of his friend Kuerten is open to doubt. Although the Brazilian squad's training headquarters is only half an hour's drive from Roland Garros, Kuerten has resisted invitations to visit them, and he hopes, respectfully, that the footballers will not crowd his court.

"I would love to see the players, but I will not go to their training ground because I must stay focused on the tournament," Kuerten said, "and if I see them at Roland Garros I will tell them to go away and practise, because I want them to win the World Cup."

"Gustavo is half-joking about sending them away," said Paulo Cleto, Brazil's Davis Cup captain, "but he needs to concentrate on his game. If he is still involved in the later stages of the tournament next week, he would like to stay on in Paris to see Brazil's opening match [against Scotland]. But, at this stage, that is only supposition."

It is. Today Kuerten is due to play his second round match against Marat Safin, the tall, powerful, 18-year-old Russian who eliminated Andre Agassi in five sets on Tuesday.

Kuerten's determination to do himself justice, having failed to win a title during the 12 months since his spectacular triumph here, has been disguised by a generally relaxed attitude. His dealings with the French media during the lead-up to the championships has earned him their "prix orange" award.

The "prix citron" has been awarded to Marcelo Rios, the favourite to relieve Kuerten of his title, if not his Mr Nice Guy image. Rios has the dubious distinction of becoming the first player to be voted the lemon three years in a row. It should be emphasised that these awards are judged on media cooperation, not on behaviour on the court. Otherwise, how would Mats Wilander's name appear on the roll of lemons?

Not that Rios would be likely to worry overmuch if he received lemons in perpetuity as long as his ability to play tennis remained unimpaired. Yesterday, having escaped the worst of rain delays to advance to the third round by defeating Spain's Emilio Alvarez, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, the Chilean expressed satisfaction with the power in his elbow.

"I've been much better every day," he said. "Always at night it's a little bit sore and I have to have some massage and take some pills, but its much better than it was two weeks ago."

The elbow injury cost Rios his No 1 position in the world rankings in April, and his next opponent, the South African Wayne Ferreira, defeated him in his opening match on returning to the ATP Tour in Hamburg three weeks ago. "I think this is the nice thing about this sport, when you get a rematch," Rios said. "It's really exciting to play Ferriera again and try to beat him."

Courier, the champion in 1991 and 1992, was eliminated in the second round by Germany's Jens Knippschild, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, and Australia's Mark Philippoussis was outlasted by the Czech Bohdan Ulihrach, 3-6, 6-7, 7- 5, 6-4, 9-7.

Martina Hingis and Venus Williams, who are seeded to meet in the women's quarter-finals, advanced to the third round unhindered. It has been argued that a case for equal prize-money with the men might be made from the quarter-finals onward. Yesterday was "children's day" at Roland Garros and child's play for the two 17-year-olds. Hingis defeated Germany's Meike Babel, 6-1, 6-2, and Williams swept past Ai Sugiyama, of Japan, 6-0, 6-2, winning the first eight games.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam