Game, set, match to Roland Garros lovebirds

29th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

The men and women of Roland Garros may never dominate the column inches or the flash bulb intensity of Posh and Becks, but there's still love in the air at the French Open.

29 May 2007,

It was in Paris that Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf clicked in 1999, the year they were singles champions here, and what's good for them is obviously good for the current crop.

Gisela Dulko, dubbed Argentina's Anna Kournikova, played in the mixed doubles with Chilean Olympic gold medallist Fernando Gonzalez here last year, reaching the quarter-finals.

They lost but Cupid struck and they became an item.

"I feel safe and certain with Fernando," cooed Dulko of her partner who was runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open in January.

Star-crossed they may be, but on today's relentless 10-month long professional tennis tour, love-struck players are happy enough if their paths just cross.

That wasn't a problem for Agassi as Graf retired the same year they became a couple.

The American showman, who called it quits himself at the US Open last year, recalled the early days of a relationship which was to result in his second marriage and yield two children.

"The looks were something I responded to most when I didn't know her - I'm such a caveman!" he told Hello magazine.

"And then I basically stalked her, then got to know her and it has been a joy ever since."

Former world number one Martina Hingis will soon be heading down the aisle with Czech player Radek Stepanek.

The 26-year-old soon to be ex 'Swiss Miss', sidelined from this year's French Open with a hip injury, has dated players such as Magnus Norman and Julian Alonso in the past.

But both picked up serious injuries in the aftermath of their relationship with her.

American Tennis magazine dubbed her 'Black Widow' as a result.

"For me, this relationship so far is great," said Stepanek as he leapt to the defence of his fiancee.

"I'm playing my best tennis. So these comments don't relate to our relationship."

At the Australian Open, Hingis said she was happy with her private life.

"You live your life at the courts, and it can feel as though something is missing. Now we both know that we go do our jobs and then the next day we can enjoy ourselves."

If there was a romance that the media would love to see played out in the full glare of publicity it is that of poster girl Maria Sharapova and all-American boy Andy Roddick.

They were linked as a couple last year but the duo insist they are not stepping out.

"I don't really want to talk about my personal life," said the Russian pin-up.

"When two tennis players are friends and are known around the world, people are going to talk. That's exactly what's happening."

Roddick said: "I keep saying it. We're not dating."

*sidebar1*Sharapova recently issued her top ten dream mixed doubles partners and sadly for picture editors everywhere, Roddick did not figure among them.

China basketball star Yao Ming was in there as was Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and Australian golfer Adam Scott.

Poor old Roddick even lost out to Russian president Vladimir Putin ("nobody will mess with us", explained Sharapova) who was number three in the list behind James Bond with John McEnroe topping the wish list.

"I want to yell at the umpires with him," said Sharapova.

One of the longest-standing relationships on the tour is Czech duo Lucie   Safarova and Tomas Berdych who have been together for four years.

The two grew up together in the Czech town of Prostejov.

"We understand what's it like for the other person because we are both players," Safarova said.

"If I was with someone else, he might not understand how much I have to practice, or about matches, or about what the tour is really like. Tomas does."

However, love is not all around for everyone in Paris.

Women's champion Justine Henin is playing her first Grand Slam event at Roland Garros since the break-up of her four-year marriage.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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