© Ella Ling

Andy Murray - defeat in semi-final

Roland Garros diary - Leconte joins the Murray debate


There has been a debate over the past couple of days here about the manner of Andy Murray’s win over Jarkko Nieminen in round two. In the first set against the Finn, Murray looked barely able to walk, was not running for some shots and seemed unable to bend his back. After treatment and as his back loosened up, the world No 4 somehow turned the match around to win in four sets, thanks in no small part to Nieminen being totally unable to focus and play his own game.

In some quarters, Murray received praise for his courage and his refusal to give in, not to mention his reluctance to retire during the match, despite how bad it looked. In other quarters, the Scot was slammed for “play-acting” and being a “drama queen”. Former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade was not the only one to accuse him of the latter and on Saturday, Frenchman Henri Leconte weighed in with his two centimes’ worth. “It’s scandalous,” the 1988 French Open runner-up said in L’Equipe. “It’s not nice. I don’t know if it was in his head but it was not the image of big champions like (Novak) Djokovic, (Rafa) Nadal or (Roger) Federer, or others on the tour. It’s a shame. It’s disrespectful to the opponent and to the public.”

We later learned that Murray had suffered a back spasm on the morning of the match and the Scot hit back at the Wade claims, saying he was disappointed at someone he has known for many years making presumptions about his condition, without knowing what he was going through. Murray’s body language has been the subject of many a discussion down the years but though everyone is entitled to their opinion, Murray deserves to be taken at his word when discussing his injuries. Every player deals with things differently and while it’s true that it’s hard to imagine Federer or Nadal showing their injuries so plainly, Djokovic used to be more like Murray, before he started mopping up grand slam titles.

Murray was among a number of players yesterday to wonder aloud (via Twitter) just why the schedule here takes eons to be produced. It seems the French Tennis Federation (FFT) is reluctant to produce and order of play for the following day until almost everyone has played their match the day before. Other grand slams produce a provisional schedule and then revise it later on with one or two tweaks but they seem unable or unwilling to do it. That would make sense if the weather had been causing problems but it’s been set fair all week so that is no excuse. The suspicion here is that the FFT don’t even begin meeting until about 6pm and therefore the delays occur. It’s no good for anyone, particularly the players scheduled first on, who get very little notice that they have an early start.

Finally a word about Friday’s diary and the item on Chris Evert and what some people on the internet think of the former world No 1 as a commentator. The intention was to show how perilous being a commentator can be, that any slip-up or faux pas can be immediately sent around the world. It was not intended as a criticism of Evert herself, who obviously works hard and drawing attention to it may not have been the best way to express the thoughts.