By Guillaume Willecoq
L-R FFT President Jean Gachassi, Michael Llodra, Tomas Berdych. Photo by Guillaume Willecoq for 15-lovetennis and GVTNews
Rendezvous at 6:30 p.m. in the headquarters of the French Newspaper “L’Equipe.” The draw ceremony was set with Tomas Berdych and Michael Llodra as former winners of the tournament (Llodra won with Arnaud Clement in doubles in 2006, and Berdych in 2005), the president of the French Tennis Federation Jean Gachassin, the tournament director Jean FranÃ§ois Caujolle, and the ATP officials.Â Everyone lookedÂ relaxed, and the president made fun of himself about his height standing next to 6’3′ and 6’5′ tennis players. Llodra was jokingÂ about the fact that he may have to pick his own number to be placed in the draw. It became even funnier when only three numbers where left in the end, and finally Berdych picked him and gave him a good comrade look: “OK, I did not do too bad?” Llodra is due to meet Potito Starace in his first round match.
But, the “bomb” that was coming next was totally unexpected – when the first two seeds where announced, Rafael Nadal wasn’t among them. Everyone was muttering about whyÂ he was missing, since no one knew about his withdrawal. The Tournament Director did not mention the fact during the draw ceremony. He was interviewed after the draw was done and explained how he received a phone call from the Nadal camp to announce his withdrawal due to illness. Nadal is expected to make anÂ official announcement in the coming days. He’ll be coming to Paris to see the official doctor of the tournament to validate his withdrawal. In other words, he won’t get blamed officially for not participating in the last Master Series tournament of the year.
Many journalists, some officials from the main sponsor BNP Paribas and the French Tennis Federation attended the ceremony. Jean Gachassin was also interviewed in regard to various Davis Cup Final issues: with Tsonga out of the picture, the captain Forget has still to make picks to make his team competitive.
The tournament director explained that the surface was slightly “speeded up” compared to previous years. He sees Federer, Murray and Djokovic as favorites for the title in Paris.
The journalists of the French tennis website 15-LoveTennis are covering the Paris Masters tournament as media for Global Village Tennis News. Follow their French language coverage on http://www.15-lovetennis.com/ and their English coverage here on GVTN.