Saturday, 27 May, 2017
I am not sure of too many other sports with as quick a turnaround as tennis. I lost a very close match against Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Thursday 6-2, 4-6, 6-7 (8/6) at the Geneva Open and promptly headed for Paris on the TGV train.
The French Open schedule has been announced and I will be playing my first match on Tuesday – but I could have played as early as Sunday. Fortunately, I have been in this game for a while now, so I can rely on my experience to make quick adjustments and deal with the frantic pace of life on tour.
As for my French Open preparations, I feel I have been playing some really good tennis this clay court season and have lost a few close matches against competitive opponents. With my ATP ranking having dropped, after suffering from injury last season, I’m no longer seeded at events.
As such, very tough matches early on in tournaments are inevitable. Nevertheless, my body feels strong and I am confident in my game. Staying patient is the key and week by week, I believe I am getting closer to achieving my goals.
Since five-set matches bring a stronger element of endurance into play, I have been working tirelessly on my fitness throughout the lead-up events in order to build stamina. I have also been grafting diligently with my physiotherapist with the aim of keeping niggles and injuries at bay.
I’m looking forward to this year’s Roland Garros. I had to skip the first major of the year (Australian Open) so this will be my first Slam of 2017. It is always a special tournament, and owing to its smaller facility it definitely feels like the most intimate of the Grand Slams. We are staying at an apartment nearby the stadium and I’m looking forward to settling into the Parisian lifestyle for a week or two.
My campaign begins against Malek Jaziri from Tunisia. He is one of the few other African players on the ATP World Tour and we have met a few times before. He has a tricky game, so I’m going to have to be ready from the start. Be sure to check back as I will be penning a diary during my time in Paris.