Tennis: Male quartet helps French find their voice again
By Greg Stutchbury
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Renditions of "La Marseillaise" and chants of "Allez les bleus" are likely to ring out at the Australian Open over the next two days after four Frenchmen advanced to the last 16 of the year's opening grand slam.
It is the first time since 1998 that France has celebrated such an achievement at Melbourne Park, though one of the quartet, Jeremy Chardy, was at a loss when asked for the secret of their success.
"I don't know," said Chardy, who provided the first upset of the men's draw when he beat sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in five sets on Saturday. "We have a lot of good players. I think everybody start to play well this year.
"I don't know what is the thing. But we just play good."
Thirteen Frenchmen made the main draw here, with two, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7) and Richard Gasquet (9), seeded in the top 10. Only Spain (16) had more players in the main men's draw.
Now, Chardy, Tsonga, Gasquet and Gilles Simon remain of France's contingent.
Tsonga made the fourth round with an effortless 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory over Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, while Gasquet was pushed by Croatian Ivan Dodig before he emerged from a taut match in four sets.
"I think I started very bad," Gasquet told reporters after he dropped the first set. "He was starting good, the condition was fast, so it was a bit difficult for me. Continued...