Mauresmo feels the home fire
Imagine the pressure Tim Henman has been under in recent years to deliver for Britain at Wimbledon. Double that, and you have some idea what French players, men and women, face as they tread the tomato-coloured clay of Roland Garros in search of glory for the homeland.
Mary Pierce did it in Millennium Year, but the purists who flock to this Gallic Grand Slam regard Mary, born in Canada and raised in the United States, as not quite French, even if they do call her "Marie". Before that it was Françoise Durr, back in 1967, who last won for France.
Pierce, the runner-up in 2005, has withdrawn this year because of a foot injury, but on paper and going by the gospel known as the ranking system, France has more than a chance this time with the world No 1, Amélie Mauresmo, holder of the Australian Open.
Mauresmo first played Roland Garros aged 15 in 1995 and this will be her 12th bid. Yet the best she has been able to summon in 11 attempts so far is a couple of quarter-finals (2003 and 2004). Last year she took on the charismatic Yannick Noah (the men's winner in 1983) as coach-adviser - and went out in the third round.
Now, she feels, she is ready to cope with that avalanche of expectation. "The pressure is here, no question about that," she said on Friday afternoon at a media conference in the national tennis museum in the grounds of Roland Garros. "But I feel different from the other years, when it was a bit of a struggle for me. Since the Australian Open [her first Grand Slam title] I have been looking at things differently, and I am hoping that will help me."
Having begun her chat by falling spectacularly off her chair, demolishing the piece of furniture but surviving undamaged, Mauresmo already has fortune in her corner. So perhaps this will be her year.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Daniel Sturridge injury latest: Liverpool striker says he is 'closer to fitness each day'
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal player ratings: How did Ozil and Welbeck do in Germany?
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Mesut Ozil given the worst rating possible by German newspaper Bild after poor performance
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City player ratings: Joe Hart? Thomas Muller? Jerome Boateng? Who was the star man?
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter