© Ella Ling

Rafa Nadal

Roland Garros diary: "Men don't need to be pretty"


Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova exited the French Open on Sunday, beaten by Sara Errani of Italy, who is having the best year of her career and has a pretty good chance of making it into the semi-finals of a grand slam event for the first time. But the ever interesting Russian still found time to give us an insight into her native language. When asked who she thought the sexiest player on the ATP Tour is, in a France 4 interview, her response was intriguing, to say the least. “We have a saying in Russia,” she said, “that a man needs to be only a little prettier than a monkey”.

Kuznetsova went on to explain that she didn’t really go for looks and that she was old
fashioned in her thoughts, believing that a man should be strong and protect his woman. Having consulted a Russian friend to see if Kuznetsova’s saying is widely known, it seems that it may be more unique to the former US Open and French Open champion than to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, now that she has gone, we will have to wait until Wimbledon to hear a few more of her special insights.

It has become something of a tradition in recent years here for Rafa Nadal to be given a cake to celebrate his birthday, which always falls during the French Open. Having won the French Open six times and as the undisputed king of clay, the Spaniard is a big favourite here and each year tournament organisers get him a cake and present it to him in the press bar. Anyone with a press credential can get in to join in the celebrations, including singing Happy Birthday to the world No 2.

It’s a nice thing for them to do and the flashes from the cameras are so frequent that for a few minutes, it is like being on the red carpet (I imagine). The other nice thing is that a slice of the cake is made available to everyone, although it has to be said that getting past
the photographers to snap up a piece is a gauntlet only the bravest dare run.