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Bercy Diary: In the Room 11/10/2010 - 11:22 AM

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by Gauloises, Contributing Writer

I picked up my press pass on Sunday but I have yet to spend time in the pressroom, mainly because I’m thoroughly intimidated by that windowless, airless pre-fab bunker, which has its own entrance and is connected with the rest of the venue only by a single door that leads to the segregated press seats in the arena. The message is clear; journalists aren't there to enjoy themselves, or to particpate like fans. They're expected to observe, sit and write.

I, however, am not acting as a journalist as much as impersonating one, and I definitely am here to enjoy myself. But when I hear that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be giving pre-start press conferences, I can’t resist. So, after taking in a couple of matches I touch up my makeup, screw my courage to the sticking-place, and forge tentatively into unknown territory.

It’s the first time I’ve seen the press room full. Television screens on the walls show the matches in progress; journalists are crammed eight to a table that, were it a business meeting, might seat five. I know people, but not well. I don’t have a desk, so I head to the far end where the British journalists are gathered and grab a vacant seat. Soon a group of reporters files back in from the interview room where they've just finished with David Nalbandian. The journalists tease each other about the questions they asked and the answers they received. Everybody knows everybody else; politically incorrect banter is exchanged across the table, and rude emails from agents and coaches are read aloud to rumbles of laughter.

Without warning, the PA announcer bilingually announces that Roger Federer is on his way to the presser. Everyone bolts, scrambling for notebooks and pens, and hurries up the long hallway, Rushing to catch up, I see Federer slipping through a special door that leads him directly onto the dias.

Up there, he’s all monograms and Rolex, and he sits hunched forward, the brim of his cap pulled down low over his brow. His arms rest on the table, folded. His posture seems awkward, which surprises me; I’d expected him to be more at ease. On the other hand, he’s perched on a raised platform in an airless box of a room, head-on with fifty strangers weilding pens. Each time he shifts position, shutters and motor drives whirr and snap to a crescendo. I don’t imagine one can ever be at ease with this ordeal, no matter how often he's endured it.

It’s clear that Federer is pretty good at this—like most things—as soon as the questioning begins. He listens politely and responds directly, maintaining eye contact. He adds modest gestures. His replies are full, occasionally funny, and sometimes surprising—I’m startled by the ease with which he admits that in the past, the race to the year-end championships has cost him sleepless nights.

I notice that he uses ‘we’ and ‘us’ in reference to the players, and sense how ready he is to speak for them: We only have one indoor Masters. I think it’s time we shifted back a bit. We’re working together on this issue. It just becomes so hard for the players. Players like to play. Maybe the white glare off those fifty blank notebooks tempts him to efface himself, to seek camoflauge as "just one of the boys." But it could also be that Federer simply enjoys the locker-room camaraderie, that he genuinely sees himself as part of something bigger that himself.

I wish I shared that feeling. At the end of the English portion of the presser, the British journalists rise to leave but the hissing disapproval of the French photographers and cameramen, whose view is momentarily blocked, keeps me glued to my seat just long enough so that I feel I missed my opportunity to slip out unnoticed. So I sit through the French questions and answers, trying to look bilingual.

106418985 By the time I make my escape, I have only a few minutes to type out some thoughts before the PA summons us again, this time for Novak Djokovic. I’m behind again, coming in just as Djokovic has taken a seat and started to banter—in French, no less—with the reporters in the front row. Djokovic's hair is still wet from a shower. He leans back in his chair, allows his limbs to loll, and awaits formal questions. When they come, he leans forward to the microphone with a confiding smile and talks seriously and fluently, creating an impression of great thoughtfulness. He’s sharp, too; when a French journalist asks a question about Davis Cup, Djokovic turns it into a joke that has the whole room disarmed and laughing with him before the question is even fully finished.

From his almost flawless English grammar to the way he works to comprehend a mangled question about Rafa delivered in a strong accent, I feel like he’s making an effort for us, that he’s made himself open to the room and he's willing to talk. I feel bad for him that the room is only half as full as it was for Federer. I want to ask him a question he can get his teeth into, but I don’t, because the journalists are handed a microphone to voice their questions and I don’t know how the microphone works. There might be a button you need to press, and I’m scared to embarrass myself. I don’t understand; I’m here as a journalist, the supposed scourge of the top players, and yet I’m the one who’s scared while he looks relaxed enough to be in his slippers at home.

It’s not until I notice the almost convulsive way that Djokovic swallows about every thirty seconds that it dawns on me: He’s nervous, too. I might not be the only one in this room who's afraid of a public misstep. If I fumble, no-one except me will remember; if he says the wrong thing, he’ll never be allowed to forget. I’m filled with admiration for his ability to be charming under such pressure, to act like he’s on our side, rather than an adversary. His performance is so graceful it’s almost moving.

I still don’t hold up my hand for the microphone, though. Djokovic done this far more often than I have.


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Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 10:08 AM

Colette Well maybe she is a long suffering fan of both lol!

Posted by Andrew 11/11/2010 at 10:10 AM

Morning, all.

Congratulations to all the Jurgen Melzer fans out there (you know who you are), and commiserations to Ferrer fans. Melzer with a Lucky Ducky, 102 to 107 (or 49% to 51%). I think the math says Melzer can't make London as a singles player, but it's still been far and away his best season.

I see there was some conversation overnight about use of language, fluency and translation. I don't think brewer and I are disagreeing violently, and I think zenggi has it about right. In my time I've spoken French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Russian at various levels of proficiency. Russian was always the hardest because of all the exceptions, plus the need to make the right verb and case selections; French I took furthest, but was never completely native proficiency.

So I agree that when you get above a certain level, you aren't translating each word, phrase or even sentence - you're having a conversation, engaging the other person directly, and thinking in the other language. But my experience is that non-native speakers do need help with technical or obscure words, and struggle with idiomatic constructions. Federer's use of language is different in Swiss-German, French and English: he's most comfortable in that order, and tends to be a bit more playful (like most of us) in the language in which he's most relaxed.

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:10 AM

Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki to hold charity tennis match in Minsk
http://news.belta.by/en/news/sport?id=593218

that is really nice from both girls (good job by Vika to convince Caro to play in her country, and good job by Caro for being willing to help), Bellorussians don't have a chance to see top tennis stars play live in Belorus usually. I hope that the attendance level will be high.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 10:11 AM

Someome has brought "cow bells or drums" by the sound of it.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 10:13 AM

Andrew I am impressed with your multi languages.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 10:18 AM

sokol Thanks for that link

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:18 AM

"In my time I've spoken French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Russian at various levels of proficiency"

impressive...

"Russian was always the hardest"

heard that from many people :-), and then when I tried to teach my kids the language realised it is very hard indeed. English was easy to learn. I spoke German some time ago, and it wasn't hard to learn either.

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 10:20 AM

All my school years I studied Swedish(it's compulsory) but since I was a slacker strangely enough I can only say Kom så, Caro!

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:20 AM

"realised"="realized"

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 10:20 AM

More cowbell (one of the best SNL skits ever)! Llodra holding his own against world's #3.

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 10:21 AM

Oh no, I missed a language discussion. :(

*catching up a bit*

sisu - that was fascinating about "silly", thank you!


"Language matters: Federer's English is better than it was in 2003, but he's always translating the question mentally and translating his answer, and occasionally he grasps for the right idiom."

Andrew, of course language matters, but the bit about "translating" sounds strange to me. Didn't Roger learn English at home? I didn't, myself, but I don't normally "translate", I speak or write English directly without thinking in my own language first. I read and hear English daily, and I don't feel that I'm "translating". I don't believe reading for instance books in English is any slower (not that I've ever taken time, lol), and while translating may sometimes happen (heck, sometimes I even pick up a dictionary!), it's occasional, a rarity, not something I feel I'm doing normally, never mind "always" like you say about Roger. I may have misunderstood what you meant, but like I said it just seemed strange to me the way I understood it.

*later*
Oh, I see brewer already commented on that. - I agree, brewer.


Nice to see Novak getting credit for pressers and language skills - even if people are adding languages he dosn't really speak. :) Personally I've gotten tired of years of praise for Roger's language skills as if speaking 3 languages and maybe a bit of one or two others is really unusual and remarkable (and especially for someone coming from a bilingual family and a multilingual country...) while a hell of a lot of other players do the same thing and get no credit for it whatsoever. Speaking several languages is common amongst players, certainly not unique or even unusual.

Posted by Colette 11/11/2010 at 10:23 AM

Temes, if you're still around, the thought of you being in any way embarassed by your use of English is just plain silly. Downright silly! You are one of the people I had in mind when I said how amazed I was by not just the the proficiency in English (including the ability to master nuance and be so witty) by those who I assumed were not native speakers of the language.

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:24 AM

"I don't normally "translate", I speak or write English directly without thinking in my own language first"

+1
even though sometimes I get stuck with the word or phrase that I know in my own language and can't find English version :-), sometimes it happens the other way around, when I know how to say in English a word and can't find it in Russian (this I never thought would happen to me :-))

Posted by Colette 11/11/2010 at 10:26 AM

Temes, lol. (I wrote my last post before I saw new ones, and you just proved my point)

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:26 AM

Ajde, Novak!

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 10:27 AM

Sokol,
I bet it was not hard for Victoria to convince Caroline to play since they are good friends. Also, they feel like they need to work and not take vacation(yet). Speaking of vacation, I thought they were planning to take vacation together this year(like Caroline did with Agnieszka, Ursula and Angelique in 2009)

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:27 AM

Come on, Stan!

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 10:27 AM

Wawrinka leads by a double break over Soderling on Court 1. 4-1.

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 10:29 AM

What's going on with rockin Robin? He had the trainer out yesterday-for what, I'n not sure.

Posted by Andrew 11/11/2010 at 10:31 AM

Anyone get the impression we're seeing a potential preview of one of the DC singles matches right now?

Here's an example of the fun you have with Russian: take a noun, like "glass," or cup. In English, you have to know that the plural of the noun is glasses (extra es) or cups (just add s). Nearly all the time, the rule is just add s - occasionally, you'll make a mistake (ox, oxen), but 99.5% of the time 1034 cups gets you done.

In Russian, it goes 1 cup, 2 of cup, 3 of cup, 4 of cup, 5 of cups, 6 of cups.... 19 of cups, 20 of cups, 21 cup, 21 of cup....

Then if you want to know how old someone is, they're 1 year, 2 of year, 3 of year, 4 of year, 5 of summers... 20 of summers, 21 year, 22 of year... 25 of summers.

It's hair raising stuff.....

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:31 AM

MA, you know not everyone will go to Belorus :-). I agree that the fact that they're good friends played a big role. Caroline will have a chance to see Vika's home town, how she lives.
I haven't heard about their vacation plans, that would make sense.

btw, Tursunov is hillarious on Twitter, talking about stereotypes about Russia. In one of the twits he talked about giving the interview and the journalist brought her bear (since some people think that bears walk in the streets in Russia :-)), bear got drunk from vodka and dancing on the table, lol

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 10:34 AM

Colette, thanks. You just boosted my English confidence. I guess I don't always come off as a neanderthal. And TW is a great place to practice there's nothing but nuanced and witty posts here lol.

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:37 AM

"In Russian, it goes 1 cup, 2 of cup, 3 of cup, 4 of cup, 5 of cups, 6 of cups.... 19 of cups, 20 of cups, 21 cup, 21 of cup...."

plus the ending of the words depending on what you're saying.
For example, in English you'd say "table","come to the table", "take from the table", "it's on the table"..."tablE" stays the same with the same ending. Well, the ending changes in Russian in all those cases :-)

Posted by tennis express 11/11/2010 at 10:39 AM

@ Tuulia

I agree with your annoyance at the praise for Federer's facility with languages, it is done to death. But please note that this is done exclusively by American commentators/writers. The rest of the world takes these language skills in their stride.

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:40 AM

I'm surprised that Llodra is going toe to toe with Novak, maybe good match up for DC for French team

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:41 AM

Does Murray speak any other language, anyone knows? I would think he could know Spanish since he trained there...

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:43 AM

and it's 6-6 in the TB
Ajde, Novak!

Posted by yello fuzzy 11/11/2010 at 10:44 AM

whew!!!!!
My sweet LLodra!

Posted by Colette 11/11/2010 at 10:45 AM

Wow, Llodra!

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 10:45 AM

How did Djokovic let set points go at 6-4 and 6-5 in TB?

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 10:45 AM

The Frenchies are going crazy for Llodra-just unloaded a bomb BH to win the set. Looks like a long afternoon for Nole.

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 10:45 AM

I think the praise for Federer's language skills comes from the fact that he unlike the rest of players conducts pressers in 3 languages. But it is a fact that a number of European players do speak more than one language.

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:46 AM

nooo :-((((((

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 10:47 AM

Some spectacular play by Llods-gripped and ripped a BH set point down.

Posted by Andrew 11/11/2010 at 10:47 AM

Whoa. I did not expect that. Djokovic has two SPs, but plays the first one a tiny bit tentatively, and a Llodra CC BH clips the line. Shot. Then a wide BH volley saves the second one - I thought Djokovic had the wheels to get there, but he half hesitated and didn't make the attempt. Serve winner, SP Llodra. Second serve, BH winner, goodnight nurse.

sokol: plus you have to pick which of a verb pair you use based on whether it's continuing or completed action. I spoke/I was speaking, gavarit', skazat', etc.

Posted by Jay 11/11/2010 at 10:48 AM

Gee, I was playing computer Scrabble with the Llodra/Nole match on, expecting Nole to breeze through. Looks like it'll be a match to watch!

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:48 AM

both guys I'm rooting for today not doing well, Novak just lost the first set in TB while having 2 SPs, and Stan is 0-40 while serving for the set at 5-4. Maybe I'm a jinx, getting off to do some actual work then...

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 10:49 AM

"But my experience is that non-native speakers do need help with technical or obscure words, and struggle with idiomatic constructions."

Well, yes, but also native speakers do. :) I do crossword puzzles sometimes, and occasionally get incomprehensible words that make me wonder if I made a mistake or if such a word exists... often they do indeed exist. Speaking with people from different parts of the country one sometimes has to inquire about the meaning of a word or expression. (Sadly I cannot make comparisons between Roger's use of different languages since I don't speak German and my French is bad, but I'm sure his uses differ - as would be the case with just about anybody I presume - and I trust your judgment on his level of comfortableness, tho some people have different views, too, changing places of French and English there).

"even though sometimes I get stuck with the word or phrase that I know in my own language and can't find English version :-), sometimes it happens the other way around, when I know how to say in English a word and can't find it in Russian (this I never thought would happen to me :-))"

It happens to me both ways, too, and almost equally commonly. :)

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 10:49 AM

Wow didn't see that coming, Llodra winning the set.

Posted by sisu 11/11/2010 at 10:50 AM

You’re welcome Tuulia.

Anne, Robin had the Doctor out yesterday and he was coughing quite a bit.

Andrew, that is confusing! And another TWiber with mad language skills.


Michael takes the first set and I’m in utter amazement, stunned a bit. I know he’s good, very good but I really did think Nole would take the first set. Maybe Nole was too casual? Well, he’s got to hunker down now.

Posted by Colette 11/11/2010 at 10:51 AM

One thing I've learned in Swedish. Your "Vamos" is gender-specific. Apparently Kom ca for a girl ... Kom igen for a guy. *remembers to go check on Soderling match*

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:52 AM

"sokol: plus you have to pick which of a verb pair you use based on whether it's continuing or completed action. I spoke/I was speaking, gavarit', skazat', etc."

yes, very confusing :-))
I was sure I'll be able to teach my kids Russian, but after several years of trying I actually gave up, turned out to be way harder than I thought :-) They still understand and can speak some, they can even read (since it's easier than in English because you actually read as it's written, most of the time), but the funny thing is they can read and not understand what they just wrote :-)

Posted by CWATC 11/11/2010 at 10:53 AM

Hey all - just logged on to see the reaction to Llodra/Djoko: who said s/v was dead? Hope some coaches of young players take note of what can be done.

Haven't read the whole translation discussion, but re the Fed he's actually asked about some of this in the video posted in the first couple pages of the thread. Said he thinks in Swiss-German and English; French he learned last and is least comfortable with of the three. (btw I've seen him do a french interview where several times he throws in an english word and asks the interviewer for the french)

Anyway, go Llodra!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/11/2010 at 10:54 AM

'morning folks.

Really enjoying this Nole/Llodra match. Llodra is a throwback to the old serve and volleyers. He made 31 trips to net in that first set. won 21 points up there. He's a nice player to watch. However, I still want Nole to win. Ajde!

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 10:54 AM

"But please note that this is done exclusively by American commentators/writers."

Actually it's not exclusive at all, in fact, as far as I can tell. :)

Posted by Romi 11/11/2010 at 10:55 AM

Gauloises,

Amazing writing yet again! You described the feeling in a pressroom with great emotion and made me laugh when thinking of my own ventures this summer being press at the Legg Mason tournament for the first time. It's difficult to describe all the emotions that flow through a typical day at a tournament, especially if you enjoy the sport as well: anticipation, joy, anxiety, relief, embarrassment, exhilaration ... and we're not even a player on the court! But well done in showcasing an underrated behind-the-scenes look of journalists and players. It really is a unique sight to behold and I hope the remaining days are filled with as much excitement. Enjoy your time there!

Romi

Posted by sokol 11/11/2010 at 10:55 AM

and now Stan will serve to stay in the set and force TB, I give up

*really off this time*

Posted by BrooklynNY 11/11/2010 at 10:56 AM

Llodra is a gem.

Its great to see a journeyman serve and volleys go toe to toe, and than comeout on top so far against the 3rd best player in the world on a 'faster' court

Posted by GB 11/11/2010 at 10:56 AM

Don't you dare get broken here Nole!

Posted by GB 11/11/2010 at 10:57 AM

:((((

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 10:57 AM

Holy cow-Nole just DFed the game-ouch!

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 10:58 AM

Total off day for Nole.

Posted by CL 11/11/2010 at 10:59 AM

Well I see we have to bump Andrew to the head of the language class...he could give all the ATPers a strong run for their money...and most of those here as well.

I do think all players, including Fed struggle sometimes for the right word in their second or third language a deal more than their first. With Fed, I sometimes seems he is, if not 'translating' in his head, than 'downshifting' through language blocks and occasionally running up against a wall. He was surprised...though quickly learned the expression, "sour grapes," which is a pretty common English phrase, after a post Murray loss comments. And, after his 2008 USO win when asked if he felt 'redeemed' by the victory, he had to have the word explained a bit. So its not an inner 'translation' - more like looking through the sock drawer...sometimes in vain.

Llordra looking good. Can he maintain?


Fed's match approximately the same time as yesterday? I have to resort to recording it.

Posted by BrooklynNY 11/11/2010 at 11:01 AM

Haha This is what happens to players who are dependant on a 'rhythm'.

Llodra plays no rhythm tennis at its finest.

Come one Llodra, just keep holding serve.

Posted by Andrew 11/11/2010 at 11:12 AM

Llodra dances with the one that brung him, and holds with a sweeping slice wide serve. Good match.

Posted by sisu 11/11/2010 at 11:14 AM

That was a great hold by Michael.

CL, yes it's 1:30pm EST/TW time.


Hi Annie! Fun match this!

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:14 AM

Woowie-clutch hold and BH screamer by llods!

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 11:14 AM

"I think the praise for Federer's language skills comes from the fact that he unlike the rest of players conducts pressers in 3 languages."

Could be part of the reason, but that just shows the ignorance of the journalists/commentators, then. In most cases there is no need for pressers in 3 languages (or even 2).

Rafa holds his in 2, but neither of them in his first language - except maybe in Barcelona come to think of it... (Of course, most writers, commentators and even tennis fans actually seem to think Rafa's first language IS Spanish.) Does Novak have Serbian pressers noramally? I would imagine also no, he just talks to those guys in person, right? He wouldn't have Italian pressers, normally, either, would he, but maybe in Italy he does? Does even Roger have pressers in 3 languages in all tournaments?

Posted by Queeny 11/11/2010 at 11:15 AM

Looks like Djokovic might be going out but still there is time....?????

Posted by yello fuzzy 11/11/2010 at 11:15 AM

oooohhh my LLodra

Posted by Jay 11/11/2010 at 11:16 AM

"Llodra dances with the one that brung him"

Spot on!

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:16 AM

Llods to serve for it after going up a double break. Looks like Djoko's done for the day.

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:18 AM

Good day for the Frenchie fans-place will explode when he wins.

Posted by yello fuzzy 11/11/2010 at 11:19 AM

spectacular!

Posted by GB 11/11/2010 at 11:19 AM

As usual Nole's great at the net.

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:20 AM

Even the commies are super excited-good win for Llods.

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 11:20 AM

Tuulia: In Switerland there is Swiss-German and French speaking press so I'm guessing that's why Roger chooses to speak in 3 languages at pressers.

Looks like Llodra has helped Guy Forget to decide on the singles players for DC.

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 11:21 AM

Federer just added 910 pts to his lead with Llodra win.

Another good Gauloises post is up. Please move match call there...

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 11:21 AM

Nice going Frenchies! Now if only you could do this at RG.

Posted by Jay 11/11/2010 at 11:21 AM

This tournament is now very interesting. I thought that the top 4 seeds were lock-ins for the semis.

Thats why we watch!

Posted by GC20 11/11/2010 at 11:21 AM

What surface will the DC final be on?

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 11:23 AM

GC20: hardcourt

Posted by Andrew 11/11/2010 at 11:24 AM

Wow - quick end. I was getting Rosie, our puppy up - I heard "double break!" from the PC. I took her outside to, um, attend to nature's call, and when I came back in we're done.

Llodra wins 72/62, or 54% to 46%. Clean kill. Commiserations to Djokovic fans. It felt like he fought up to the 4-2 game, but may have felt that multiple 3 set matches in Paris and London weren't what he needed. Or maybe Michael Llodra was too good. Congratulations to Llodra fans: when I first started watching this match, I was going to opine learnedly that Djokovic's flat returns show how tough S-and-V is in today's game. Shows what I know.

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 11:25 AM

Considering he faces Berdych or Davydenko in the next round, Llodra is looking good to reach the SF.

Posted by GC20 11/11/2010 at 11:26 AM

What kind of hard court? Bercy fast or Shanghai slow. Huge difference. Anyone know?

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:27 AM

Yes Wilson, Llods draw looks mighty fine.

Posted by sf 11/11/2010 at 11:30 AM

"realised"="realized"

clear sign sokol is in da house - the spell-checker.

howdy sokol. just pickin' on ya ;0

seems like le sod is on fire - yeah! and holy shmokes, the djoker is out?!

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 11:31 AM

GC20: Fast hardcourt. I'm guessing that's why Bercy changed the speed of the courts this year.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/11/2010 at 11:32 AM

Is Novak in danger of losing points ground to Murray now? Oh well, see you in Belgrade Llodra! (That wasn't a DC preview, because this is, after all, Paris)

Nobody was "adding languages" to Novak's list - if people are counting Catalan and "Mallorcan", then I would have to add Croatian and Bosnian. Before Serbian kids started learning English in school, Russian was required - and they're similar, anyway. There's youtube video of him speaking German very comfortably; After Serbian and German, French, Italian, and English are easy-peasy.

Posted by sf 11/11/2010 at 11:33 AM

on a good day, llodra's clever s&v must give even the best players the shivers.

congrats to llodra (and his fans? any here?) and commies to djoker and his fans.

Posted by sisu 11/11/2010 at 11:34 AM

Spectacular win by Michael!! Ooh la la Llodra!! Congrats to him and his fans. Sorry for Nole and his fans.

Sad to see Nole out so I find myself trying to rationalize it - This win by Michael gives him a false sense of security so Nole can beat his patootie at DC. Or maybe Nole really wants to rest up so he can grab the year-end title. I don’t know. Really surprised.


Posted by Arun 11/11/2010 at 11:34 AM

Anne: Llods made it look fine, all by himself (by beating Nole and Isner). =)

I hope more hard courts can be made faster just so we can see performances like this instead of monotonous hitting from the baseline.

Posted by Master Ace 11/11/2010 at 11:36 AM

Tina,
Djokovic has to be careful in not emptying the tank for Davis Cup in 2 weeks. If Murray reaches the final, Djokovic will slip to 4.

Posted by Anne 11/11/2010 at 11:43 AM

No doubt Arun, Llods is looking like he can beat pretty much anyone right now!

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 11:44 AM

"Tuulia: In Switerland there is Swiss-German and French speaking press so I'm guessing that's why Roger chooses to speak in 3 languages at pressers."

Eeh... I meant: is there enough German and Freanch speaking press travelling around the world so that a presser in each language is required in all tournaments. Just wondering since I don't know. Obviously if there is plenty of them everywhere it makes sense to have pressers in those languages. Similarly, I don't know if Novak always has pressers in Serbian - how big is the bunch that travels around and needs them, that's the question. Even if there's plenty everywhere and they all speak English fluently then an English presser will be enough. I wouldn't imagine players specifically want to sit in pressers double/triple/whatever time at every opportunity. :)

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 11:48 AM

Tuulia: I don't know the answers to your questions but it will be illogical for any non-English speaking player to speak to its local press in English.

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 12:11 PM

"Nobody was "adding languages" to Novak's list"

No? I seem to remember Spanish was mentioned and that's the first I've heard of him speaking it. If he does, fine. Just because a language is taught to you in school doesn't mean you learn it - trust me, I speak from experience. :) But if Novak speaks Russian, that's great, too. What counts as "speaking" is another matter - and I'm saying that in general, not specifically about Novak... I suspect that if I tried to have a conversation in Swedish with Roger neither of us would be very talkative. ;)
And surely no-one would seriously count Mallorcan as a separate language from Catalan. I must also say that the first time I heard Swiss German counted as a separate language from German was in connection with Roger. :) It may be very different, but as long as it's officially a dialect I'll count it as a dialect, just like dialects/regional variants of other languages.

Posted by monterey 11/11/2010 at 12:22 PM

"The difference between a language and dialect is flags and battleships."

---Noam Chomsky

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 12:32 PM

wilson75 - well yes and no. Obviously not if it's one-on-one, but if there's one representative from a language group - who happens to speak good English, too, a player wouldn't have a presser in that language or would they really? :)

monterey - I think Chomsky correct, pretty much, not that that sentence necessarily applies to all cases.

Posted by wilson75 11/11/2010 at 12:47 PM

Tuulia: I don't know the number of Swiss press that follow Roger but I'm sure it's not one and for sure they will not be asking him questions in English.

Posted by Tuulia 11/11/2010 at 12:58 PM

wilson75, I wasn't only talking about Roger, and I get the impression we are not quite understanding each other. It's not an important issue, just something I was curious about, but I think I better leave it. :)

Posted by lollipop 11/12/2010 at 12:15 AM

late to the party again, but love love this post, gauloises. Its very interesting to see the 'inside info' especially seeing it from the eyes of a newcomer to journalism. felt like I was right there listening to each gulp from Nole in his presser. Love the way you observe such subtle things in body language and word usage. all in all very fluent, I really enjoy reading ur writing.

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