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Roland Garros Diary: No Pressure On Rafa; Roddick Turns Pundit

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesFeeling the pressure? No chance. takes a look at the news and talking points at Roland Garros on the first Monday. 

Rafa Not Feeling The Pressure
Rafael Nadal is an old hand at handling the pressure of the “favourite” tag at Roland Garros, having won the title seven times since 2005. And in 2013, he is playing with an extra freedom, having feared the worst when he was sidelined for seven months with a left-knee injury.

“I'm delighted to be able to play here at Roland Garros,” said the Spaniard, who has lost only two matches in 39 since his comeback. “I find myself in a state of affairs that, only few months back, none of my team could ever have dreamed of. That's why I'm [appreciating] every moment. What's happened is behind me. Each passing day is a little less tension, and I think I have done more than I could possibly have dreamed about doing only a few months back.

“Pressure is something that you can foist upon your own shoulders. It doesn't come from anywhere else. My pressure is to play every day the best I can. That's exactly what I did and that's what I always do and that's what I will continue to do. This is a difficult tournament, among the most difficult in the world. You win, you lose, you play.”

Read Match Report | Nadal Reacts To Brands' Power Play

Roddick Turns Pundit
Andy Roddick will officially launch his media career later in the year when he joins Fox Sports Live as a co-host. The American got some practice in on Twitter Monday as he sparked debate around Gael Monfils’ unfulfilled potential before then weighing in on the most talented player not to win a slam.


The Santoro Effect
France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin is having the best season of his career at the age of 29. The right-hander is up to a career-high World No. 65 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and won through to the second round at Roland Garros on Monday with a four-set win over Martin Alund. Speaking afterwards, Roger-Vasselin credited his success to more work on his physical fitness and the advisory role of Fabrice Santoro in his team.

"When we talk about the game, he has perfect knowledge of the game and he adapts to my style,” said Roger-Vasselin. “He knows that I'm not going to slice the ball like he did, but he understands tennis. He understands the way I should play, the way I play. He gives me a lot information on many basic things, which are important to remember, whether it be with regards to the surface, the opponent, or to the tournament. He has a lot of experience, and that's very beneficial for me.”

New Kid On The Block
Australian Open junior champion Nick Kyrgios recorded his first tour-level win in style on Monday. The 18 year old closed a gap of 210 places in the Emirates ATP Rankings to upset World No. 52 Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(11). He was awarded a place in the main draw when his injured countryman, John Millman, was forced to give up his wild card.

Watch Kyrgios Interview

“It felt about ten times better than the championship point at junior Australian Open,” said Kyrgios, who still plans to compete in the junior tournament in Paris. “I sort of didn't know what happened when I won. I can't really describe it, to be honest. I just looked at everyone that's been helping me over the past couple years. It was an unbelievable feeling.”

Kyrgios revealed that 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has been playing the role of mentor as he transitions from juniors to professional. “Pat Cash was a pretty good role model. To this day, he's always sort of messaging me, supporting me, giving me advice. He's obviously really helped me because I played junior Davis Cup and he was the coach. He really gave me some good advice there. Ever since then he's been messaging me.”

Upset Of The Day
In addition to Gael Monfils’ thrilling five-set victory over fifth seed Tomas Berdych (read report), there was another significant upset on Monday. Fresh from winning his eighth ATP World Tour title at the inaugural Power Horse Cup in Dusseldorf (d. Nieminen), World No. 18 Juan Monaco made an unexpected first-round exit at Roland Garros on Monday. The Argentine surrendered a two-set lead as he was beaten 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 by Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver. World No. 49 Gimeno-Traver won his first match at Roland Garros since 2010.

Photo Of The Day
Gael Monfils dives for a shot against Tomas Berdych. Photo: AFP/Getty Images


Cuevas Impresses On Comeback
Pablo Cuevas celebrated a significant five-set victory in the first round on Monday. The 27-year-old Uruguayan has dropped to World No. 762 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after undergoing two knee operations, but made a stunning tour-level comeback as he saved two match points to defeat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. The left-hander returned from a near two-year absence with appearances in two Brazilian Challenger tournaments in April. He goes on to face French No. 15 seed Gilles Simon

Brands: Aggression Key Against Nadal
Daniel Brands had Rafael Nadal in something of a tight spot when he led the seven-time Roland Garros champion by a set and 3-0 in the second set tie-break. The German could not maintain his level, nor his concentration, but gave spectators, and indeed his colleagues, a glimpse of what it takes to unseat Nadal in the Paris major.

“I think if you play against Rafa, you have to play aggressively from the beginning,” said Brands. “You just try to put some pressure always. I think that's the main goal. If you can do this, I think you have a chance to compete against Rafa. But if you play at a high level always, all the time in the match, I think that's really exhausting. You have to play like that three sets in a row to beat him, and I think that's quite difficult.”

Tweet Of The Day
Great Britain’s Ross Hutchins, who is currently off the tour as he undergoes treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, took to Twitter to update fans on Bank Holiday Monday in the U.K.

@RoscoHutchins: "Ultimate bank holiday! Great weather for bbq, French Open, Playoff Final, Eng vs NZ! out and about earlier & loads of people out loving it :)”

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