On an emotionally-fuelled day at Roland Garros, Garbine Muguruza broke down in tears during her post-loss press conference and Pablo Carreno Busta cried his way through his on-court interview with Eurosport after his five-set win over Milos Raonic.
The two Spaniards were experiencing feelings on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum, but both tearful incidents were equally moving.
It is often difficult to read Muguruza but her press conference at Roland Garros on Sunday allowed us for a few moments to get a look at the real person inside of her. Not because she cried, but because she came back in the room and took on whatever was coming her way.
She was overcome by emotion before she even heard the reporter’s question about Mladenovic screaming ‘forza’ to celebrate Muguruza’s unforced errors. It was obvious she was barely holding it together from the start of the press conference.
And after leaving the room briefly to collect herself, she came back and answered every question thrown at her.
The reporter told her he didn’t want to upset her with the same question, giving her an out. But Muguruza wouldn’t take it.
“Go for it, we’re here in the good and the bad, so go for it,” she said with a straight face. Muguruza then responded with a sarcastic quip about Mladenovic being able to speak “25 languages”.
It reminded me of why she’s a Grand Slam champion. Between the setbacks and the nerves and the inconsistent form, Muguruza is confrontational, a fighter, an aggressor…
In Spanish, veteran tennis journalist Neus Yerro asked her what was most painful – the loss, the feelings it evoked, or what exactly?
Muguruza almost broke down again and could only say one word: “Derrota (The loss).”
Still she continued.
When Muguruza was walking off the court following her defeat to Mladenovic, she wagged her finger at the crowd, sending a message that what they did on Sunday was not acceptable to her.
The Spaniard felt the pro-Mladenovic crowd crossed a line, but she also said she understands that they were rooting for their home player. Still, it must have been hard for her to go from being adored one year as the Roland Garros champion, then heckled the next year for facing a Frenchwoman. The contrast must feel unsettling.
“I think the crowd today was a little bit obviously tough for me. I understand,” said the 23-year-old.
“I just think that they were a little bit, sometimes should be a little bit more respectful, even though for the game, because we had to, you know, stop. The chair umpire has to always calm the crowd down. I’m not here to create enemies. I mean, I love playing here. Is not a good feeling, so…”
Muguruza’s coach Sam Sumyk is French and he branded the crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday as “pathetic”.
Congrats to k. Mladenovic.@GarbiMuguruza very proud of you.Never simple to be defending champion.To the French crowd, pathetic, no class!!— Sam Sumyk (@SamSumyk) June 4, 2017
Ultimately, players react to pressure in different ways. For Muguruza, being the defending champion in Paris and spending a whole year being the French Open title holder weighed down on her. While she is hurt by the loss on Sunday, she seems relieved that phase is finally over.
“It’s gonna sound weird, but I’m actually happy that this stage kind of the year is done, because I wanted to go as far as possible. But even if I didn’t, I think I’m going to feel much better now to continue the year, and everybody is going to stop bothering me asking me about this tournament, so it’s going to be a little bit like, ‘Whew, let’s keep going’” she said on Sunday.
For Carreno Busta, his breakthrough win over Raonic – his first top-10 victory that took him into his first Grand Slam quarter-final – has given him confidence ahead of his next monumental task against Rafael Nadal.
He isn’t shying away from what is essentially the toughest test in tennis today – facing an in-form Nadal on clay at Roland Garros.
“Of course I believed a lot in my possibilities today. I believed a lot in my possibilities in the last match. I believe a lot in my possibilities in the next match,” the 25-year-old Spaniard said confidently.
Referring to his emotions after a brutal four-hour 17-minute battle with Raonic, he said: “It’s difficult to explain to you my emotions at the end of the match. It was the best victory of my career. Maybe in one of the best moments and of the best places.
“This match that you dream when you are young, playing Roland Garros, five sets, four hours and a half. It was really tough, really tough. But I just try to do my best.
“I enjoyed. I suffer, but I enjoyed. And of course if you win, you enjoy more.”
6 — top-five wins Mladenovic now owns against seven losses.
11 — Roland Garros quarter-finals Nadal and Djokovic have now made to join Roger Federer at the top of the list for most Roland Garros quarter-finals reached in the Open Era.
20 — wins and just three losses Nadal now has against Spaniards across all Grand Slams.
20 — games lost by Rafael Nadal in four rounds, just one more than his best of 19 at the same stage in 2012.
21 — and 21 days, Khachanov is the youngest man to reach the last-16 at Roland Garros since Marin Cilic made the fourth in Paris aged 20 years 252 days in 2009.
23 — years since two Frenchwomen had last reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. The French are now guaranteed two women in the last-eight after Kristina Mladenovic beat Garbine Muguruza and with one of Alize Cornet or Caroline Garcia also advancing.
25 — years after Petr Korda reached the French Open final, son Sebastian made his junior debut on Sunday beating sixth seed Marko Miladinovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.
48 — consecutive service games Roland Garros fourth debutant Karen Khachanov has held.
84 — unforced errors from Milos Raonic in his fourth round loss to Carreno Busta against 92 winners.
“I think she speaks like 25 languages, I heard, so…”
— Garbine Muguruza throws shade at Kristina Mladenovic when asked if she was annoyed by the Frenchwoman celebrating her unforced errors by yelling ‘forza’.
“When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again.”
— World No290 Petra Martic after making the fourth round having missed 10 months of action due to a back injury.
“When she said that I was known for that sort of thing on the circuit, really? I think we should ask other players if that’s what they think. I hate calling the physiotherapist onto the court.”
— Timea Bacsinszky recalls gamesmanship accusations made by Mladenovic towards her during Fed Cup earlier this year.
“Of course everyone knows Swiss cheese is so much better than French cheese, and that Gruyere cheese does not have holes. You call it Emmental. You are imposters. Gruyere is a place in Switzerland with a castle there. It’s a region. In the Canton of Fribourg. It’s a very pretty place.”
— Swiss player Bacsinszky’s idea of trash talk ahead of her quarter-final against France’s Mladenovic.
“I mean, if we live in fear, you know, that’s not life. I also believe that you kind of attract, you know, certain things that when you are, you know, living under stress and fear of everything.”
— Novak Djokovic when asked if he is worried about his and his family’s safety at Wimbledon in light of the latest attacks in London.
Considering he was 0-16 against top-10 players entering that match, this would have to go to Carreno Busta, who beat fifth-seeded Raonic 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (8), 6-4, 8-6.
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