• Video: Gilles Simon says he dreamed of being Marat Safin and wants to issue a 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 beatdown on Andy Murray.
• John McEnroe sounds like he agrees with Jimmy Connors and Ernests Gulbis that today’s rivalries are boring. Tennis needs more fire.
“I don’t disagree that it would be nice in a way, people going at it a little more viciously,” said McEnroe, who will be commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon again this year. “It’s not their styles I guess, they find it hard to show it.
“I got along fine with Bjorn Borg and he was my greatest rival, followed by Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, so it doesn’t mean you have to dislike each other. But it does seem like you don’t see that part of it out there very often, if at all.
“It’s part of the … I don’t want to say entertainment value, but it seems like when you’re in a one-on-one sport, you need it. Especially when there are so many more options than there were in the past, there’s got to be a way to grab the fans more.”
• Need a recap of Rafael Nadal’s “Lost Weekend”? Brian Phillips has it covered and lists the four things that could stop Nadal from winning the French Open.
• Should the Slams go back to a 16-seed field?
• A look at how the increased prize money in the early rounds affects the lower-ranked players.
“These trips are so incredibly expensive,” said Lauren Davis, who pocketed $27,000 after a first-round loss. She first realized how expensive tennis was when she started traveling outside the country. “Especially with a coach, having to pay for his flights, hotels, food, him having to record everything, you see how much it comes up to, getting the hotel bill and knowing I have to pay for it, it’s tough at times.”
Davis, 19, had earned $103,000 before the French Open. Davis does not handle her money — her mother and agent do — but she said the increased prize money from the Grand Slam events could lead them to change her playing schedule.
• Good profile of Varvara Lepchenko, who says the American media tend to ignore her results.
She does wonder how, however, as the third highest ranked American on the women’s tour, at 25th, she does not have a clothing sponsor. She only recently signed a formal equipment deal with Wilson, her agent said.
“It’s kind of a surprise,” Lepchenko said in a phone interview a week before the French Open. “It’s unfortunate in a way.”
When told she might be called the quiet American, Lepchenko, who turned 27 last week, laughed.
“It seems like I’m in the shadow,” she said. “I follow a few journalists on Twitter from the States, and I always see they post once someone loses or wins from the United States, and I never get mentioned until I win a few rounds or I never get mentioned in terms of what my strengths and weaknesses are. It’s been pretty much like that my whole life.”
• Interesting stuff from Doug Robson: Did Zuzana Kucova’s return to the tour expose a loophole in the doping rules?
• From Tom Perrotta: U.S. junior Adam Neff has a red-clay court, hard court, indoor facility and CVAC unit in his backyard. This is some parental dedication.
• The average age of the draw for both the men and the women is rising at the French Open.
Greg Sharko of the ATP Tour said that the average age of players in the top 100 in the men’s rankings has increased from 24.92 years in 2003 to 27.13 in 2012. Sharko said the average age of players in the men’s singles at the French Open has increased from 25.20 years in 2003 to 26.78 years this year.
What is remarkable is how steady the rise has been: The average age of the top 100 has increased every year without fail for the last decade.
At the moment, there is not one teenager in the top 100. The three who made it into the 128-player draw did so through wildcards or qualifying.
• Lindsay Gibbs is right: Feliciano Lopez really is good at Instagram.
• Jimmy Connors: Still angry after all these years. He says today’s game is too straight-laced because it’s a big business now.
“We gave them glamour, excitement and controversy and they didn’t want it,” he shrugged. “Now, they’re longing for it and they can’t have it. Tennis is big business these days and the conscious entertainment has gone, but back then we all walked a fine line. Did we overstep it sometimes? Sure, but that’s what drew in the crowds.”
Connors admits that if he watched any of his past tournaments now (he never does), his behaviour “would probably make me blush”. Yet both in the book and in person, he seems reluctant to elaborate on just how far he overstepped the line off-court.
• Roger Federer has had more front-row looks at Nadal than anyone. He talks to the ATP about Nadal’s maturation over the years.
Federer, who has a 2-13 mark against Nadal on clay, weighed how he’d fare against Borg on the surface. “Probably not so good,” he stated. “He was one of the greatest clay court players of all time. He was fighting with the wood racquets, and it was a different time. That’s why I never quite know who was the greatest of all time.
“We will never know how we would have all matched up, because Borg would have played totally different in today’s age. And Rafa would have played very different back then because you can’t play the way he plays today, but great players find a way, and that’s what Rafa is showing in these last 10 years.”
• Murray is burning up the cover of British GQ, and says he had heartbreaking nightmares after losing to Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final.
“I remember having won the final, holding the trophy in my hands, the feeling that I was the champion… then waking up and realising instantly it was a dream. And even though I knew straight away that it hadn’t been real, I have to say I was really, really disappointed all over again.”
“When I had that dream, it was on the morning of my first day back on the practice court before the Olympics. And it actually gave me the motivation to train harder and to train better. From then on, I was just playing the best tennis I had ever played. I knew it in practice; I felt it every time I hit a ball, and it was the first time I had responded to a grand slam defeat so positively.”
• Non-tennis: David Brent returns to teach you how to play guitar.