© Ella Ling


Roland Garros diary


Rafa Nadal has been creating plenty of magical moments over the past few years but on day two at Roland Garros it was the turn of his uncle, Toni Nadal, to take the spotlight. In Nadal’s book, Toni comes out of it as a pretty hard task master but yesterday it was someone else handing out the tasks as he was the “victim” of a magic trick.

The trick came at a special event to showcase Babolat’s Play and Connect racket, which has in-built technology which logs data including forehands, backands, serves etc, as well as the speed and position of the ball on the strings. It’s a tennis geek’s heaven but it’s also something that will appeal to coaches, who can analyse the data instantly or post-match.

Anyway, back to the magic. Toni, who had a role in the development of the racket, was left agog as a magician made a coin “levitate” in front of him. His nephew’s done some pretty incredible things on the court in his time but I doubt even he could make a coin fly.

For a couple of years now, Andy Murray has been doing a column for a local newspaper in the city of the grand slam events. In Melbourne this year (and last) it was with The Australian and proved very popular as Murray doubtless enjoyed speaking to someone other than the British press who follow him around the world for much of the year (and whose incomes, in some cases, are directly related to his performances – Andy, take note, please).

In Paris, he has been branching out with the famous L’Equipe, where his first column was largely concerned with how much he enjoyed watching the now-retired Fabrice Santoro (aka, the magician) when he first came onto the tour. The best part of the column is its title, “Dandy Murray”, which was rather apt as the Scot explained this week how much he has learned to enjoy Paris with each year he has come to the French Open. “I am staying on the Champs Elysees. It’s quiet but if you want to go out there are loads of good restaurants and great cinemas.”

He even found time to take his dogs for walks down the Champs Elysees a couple of times in the build-up to the event before they headed home. “It was a bit emotional,” Murray revealed. “There were a lot of people and a lot of smaller dogs as well. They’re not the friendliest when they’re on the leads.” Oh, and L’Equipe gave Murray his own press card. Wonder if it works.

Now, I am a pretty pedantic person when it comes to language but a question received today was well beyond my own knowledge. “Why,” I was asked, “is there a hyphen in Roland-Garros?”

The home of the French Open was named in honour of Roland Garros, who was a famous French aviator during the First World War. But for some reason, most of the documentation here includes a hyphen. To answer it, I headed for the bevvy of French reporters and after a bit of hunting around, I found it. Apparently, the hyphen is inserted after death, so if Roland Garros was still alive, he would hyphen-less, albeit 123 years old. Thanks to the great Francois Thomazeau for the French lesson in grammar. I need to get out more.