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Rediff.com  » Sports » Relaxed Mauresmo wants some French Open fun

Relaxed Mauresmo wants some French Open fun

May 21, 2009 11:23 IST

Going home to Paris in May used to fill Amelie Mauresmo with dread.

Instead of looking forward to some rest and relaxation in familiar surroundings, the former world number one could not wait to escape the French capital after years of underperforming at Roland Garros.

But as she approaches the latter stages of her career, Mauresmo is at last ready to enjoy her 15th tilt at a French Open crown.

"Coming into the clay season I'm really just trying to enjoy myself. I've been struggling the last few years on this surface a lot, more than on the others," Mauresmo said ahead of the season's second major, which begins on Sunday.

The 29-year-old won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006 but has never made it past the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and has found it hard to cope with the expectations of the media and her adoring fans.

"It's probably the toughest tournament I've played," she told Reuters in an interview arranged by WTA Tour sponsor Sony Ericsson.

"When I think about all those years I was never really able to enjoy myself fully during this week or couple of weeks.

"It was not only pressure from the media but pressure from myself, hoping to do well and wanting to do well so much.

"So it's always been something that has given me a lot of trouble over the years."

Mauresmo, who owns 25 singles titles, became the first Frenchwoman to top the world rankings in September 2004 and had another 34 weeks as number one in 2006.

But after her Antwerp Diamond Games victory in February 2007 she took longer than expected to recover from an appendectomy and suffered a series of injuries.

She spent two years in the wilderness and thought about quitting before storming back to claim the Paris Open title in February this year, where she beat Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals and Olympic champion Elena Dementieva in the final.

GREAT MOMENTS

"It was basically almost two years of questions and thinking and wondering whether I would make it," she said.

"I was thinking okay maybe it's time to retire, it's time to stop. It was really disturbing in the mind and feeling physically down was also something I was not used to."

Mauresmo parted company with Loic Courteau, her coach of more than six years, in September last year and hired Hugo Lecoq for this season, a decision she said had paid off.

"I was thinking let's go for 2009 and try to have the best preparation with someone new and see what happens," she said.

"I don't regret it at all because I've already had some great moments out there."

Mauresmo, who climbed to 16 from 21 in the rankings after reaching the semi-finals in Madrid last week, said she had not set herself any specific goals for Roland Garros.

"I'm really trying to find the pleasure again to be out there on clay and sliding around. I'm just here to enjoy."

She said winning Wimbledon was probably her greatest achievement and that she would not swap either of her two grand slam titles for a French Open crown.

She had no illusions of regaining the number one ranking but still fancied her chances in the slams.

"When you are at my level and you still have some ambitions you have to think you can do it," she said.

"Of course you have surfaces that are going to suit you better than others. But I still think I can do well.

"I'm not going to play every week, I'm not going to run after a ranking, I'm not going to be in the top 10 or five.

"It's not my goal. I just want to live some great moments."

Iain Rogers
Source:
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