PARIS:In the heat of the moment, and professional athletes suffer a lot from those, it can become difficult to distinguish the line between legitimate and fair. Viriginie Razzano pushed that boundary twice during her first round match against Veronica Cepede Royg at the French Open on Monday.
Razzano served underarm twice, including once on match point, en route her 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over the Paraguayan youngster. And then failed to recognise why it was such a big deal.
“Does he mean it’s not fair play?” the 32-year-old Frenchwoman said, when asked whether it was an act of gamesmanship. “No. If I do that, it’s because I want to. It’s not because I want to undervalue my opponent.”
It is not the first time the French Open has witnessed this. Michael Chang began the trend with an underarm serve to Ivan Lendl in the fourth round in 1989, a tournament he went on to win — the youngest Grand Slam winner at 17. Ten years later, Martina Hingis served one to Steffi Graf in the final, which the German won.
That Razzano had to take such desperate measures did not go down well with the crowd, who mercilessly turned against their own. Experts were up in arms on social media as Razzano’s unsuccessful attempts with those serves went viral.
“I sometimes have no choice. I would like to surprise my adversary, and when I feel it’s a good time to do that, I prefer to do that. It’s not easy because I prefer serving normal, but sometimes, you can run after your serve and have a good defence and attack. Why? Because I like to surprise my adversary sometimes,” Razzano said in defence.
She is unlikely to win popularity contests on the WTA Tour. She pulled out of matches in two of her last three tournaments and hinted she wasn’t in the best of shape coming into this one. “I think about all this period, these months that were very difficult for me from a mental perspective. I feel I deserve this win. I’m very happy, because with my work I was not resigned.” Win at all costs, that was the attitude Razzano brought to the court in her home Grand Slam — without budging an inch.