Austria's Dominic Thiem serves to US Steve Johnson during their tennis match at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open on June 2, 2017 in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Joel Drucker: Angles & Dropshots - Tears & Tunes at the Mid-Point

+ The tracks of their tears: the return of Petra Kvitova . . . the exit of Nicolas Almagro, kindly comforted by Juan Martin del Potro . . . Stevie Johnson, defining what competing is all about . . . Kristina Mladenovic, fighting back from big deficits versus Americans Jennifer Brady and Shelby Rogers – and then thoroughly pleasing the local crowd by taking out the holder, Garbine Muguruza… Muguruza, crying during her post-match press conference . . .

+ Rafael Nadal is tearing through the draw, having lost 20 games in four matches. Ravenous? Without a doubt. No matter how it ends up for Nadal this year, it’s been impressive to watch how he’s subtly enhanced his game. Disclosure: Much as I appreciate both Roger Federer and Nadal, by temperament I’m much more of a Nadal than a Federer person. Dare you expect anything else from someone who wrote a book about Jimmy Connors?

+ Andre Agassi: He came, he saw, he chatted – and now he’s gone. Fascinating to ponder what Agassi and Novak Djokovic will continue to talk about. As long as I live, I will never understand how coaching – as distinct from instruction – plays out in tennis. As a former world number one once told me, “Tennis? Coaching? Tennis is a sport you can play where you don’t have someone telling you what to do.”

+ Time for Thiem? Tuesday the Austrian with the cult following – such occurs when a player can blister a one-handed backhand that way – will face a significant rite of passage when he goes up against Novak Djokovic in a cross-generational quarterfinal. Thiem last year lost handily to Djokovic in the semis. Djokovic also crushed him recently at the same stage in Rome, dropping just one game. Big key for Thiem: serves and returns – in other words, his ability to start the point aggressively. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll be at Djokovic’s mercy.

+ Slam song: Often at a Slam, a song surfaces that captures much of my mood for the tournament – highly subjective, personal, emotional, even random. In Australia, the tune was Lisa Hannigan’s “Lille,” best described as wistful --

The inspiration in Paris comes from Ingrid Michaelson and her playful, bouncy song, “The Way Am.”

Read more articles by Joel Drucker


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