Gulbis and Tomic work hard to reach main draw
Rafa loves a challenge, Sascha refuses to be caught out, and Garbine Muguruza finds out who she's playing...
After winning 50 consecutive sets on clay, Rafael Nadal is glad to have been pushed hard in Rome:
"I didn't lose a set during Davis Cup, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and in Madrid I won two matches straight sets. Then I lost in straight sets. There was not moments of that pressure, or moments that you needed to be there, you need to play well, no?
"In Rome I had plenty of these moments. I came back after [losing] a set against Fognini. Then I played a very tough first set against Novak in the semifinals, and the final had a little bit of everything. But coming back, too, that's situations that helps to keep going, to keep being confident, and to get used to play this difficult moments that the normal thing is you have these difficult moments in our sport."
Garbine Muguruza learns from a reporter that she will face fellow former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round:
Q. I just want to know if you were aware of your draw before going…
Q. …into this press conference?
GM: He said it, the first round.
I mean, it's a good first round. Last year I remember I started with Schiavone. It’s good right away. Tough match.
It doesn't really matter, you know, who you're going to play because it's going to be a difficult match. We have a lot of battles together, so it's going to be good.
Lucas Pouille is hoping new coaching consultant Tommy Haas can fine-tune his game at Roland-Garros:
"An outside point of view is always important. It's always good to have a different ring of the bell. The aim is to help me to get settled in my game, to play my best tennis during the first rounds, and to go as far as I can."
For French No.1 and No.7 seed Caroline Garcia, Serena Williams has been a constant presence at Roland-Garros:
"My parents brought me to watch matches a couple of times. You know, it was special to be on this court watching. I think the first time we came we had some good matches, and so a great, more of great player, and Serena was already there. It's kind of surprising, but she's still here and competing."
A decade after her 2008 junior Roland-Garros title, two-time finalist Simona Halep reflects on how she has changed:
"Well, I'm not that shy like 10 years ago. I'm much better with you guys, talking better. But I am still the same impulsive girl on court. Off court, as well. Yeah, maybe your personality doesn't change that much, but you improve. So I feel more mature – it’s normal. I feel more relaxed about everything. And in general, in life, I'm more open to people. So I'm different."
Don’t try and outfox Alexander Zverev when it comes to German tennis history:
Q. If you do go all the way, it's the first German player since 1996. How do you feel about that?
AZ: Who was it in '96?
Q. Michael Stich.
AZ: He didn't win it though.
Q. No, he didn't win it.
AZ: Didn't go all the way.
Q. Went to the finals.
AZ: There you go. He made finals. I was thinking who it was. I thought my German tennis knowledge was better than you guys.
But, I mean, look, as I said, this is a long way ahead, and I'm not trying to think ahead. I have done that before in Grand Slams, and I lost early. I'm going to try to avoid that. I'm going to try to prepare myself the best I can and play the best tennis I can. The rest will take care of itself.
Kristina Mladenovic is not concerned about matching last year’s quarter-final run, instead focusing solely on Roland-Garros 2018:
"If you have that type of mindset every year, every month, you become crazy. That's the underlying principle of tennis. You try to take a snapshot of the whole inventory at the end of the year, not in between. You never know when you're in good form; we try to produce our best performance every week.
"But as far as I'm concerned, I'm at the French Open – I'll try to go as far as possible. Not to defend last year's points, but rather to try to have a good tournament. I have a lot of ambitions, and once it's over, we'll see."
A year on from her stunning comeback at Roland-Garros, and a day after her assailant was captured by Czech authorities, Petra Kvitova is still stunned by her comeback:
Q. Could you have expected one year ago that your last 12 months would be so successful on court?
PK: Can you?
PK: Well, that's probably the answer from me, as well! No, not at all. I didn't have to use my special ranking at any time. It's been great 12 months so far. Of course it was up and down, but to having five titles since I came back, it's kind of unreal.
Sometimes it's unreal for me, too, to sit and say, 'Okay, I won four titles this year already.' It's a little bit weird. But that's why I actually came back, not only to play tennis but to be better. And, yeah, I think I'm not playing bad tennis right now.
Nadal, Muguruza, Dimitrov, Halep and Kvitova among the stars to chat to the media on Friday at Roland-Garros.
Zverev, Thiem, Nishikori, Wawrinka among the names in a tantalising "quarter of death" in the men's draw.
How the three-time Roland Garros champion's dream might turn into reality in 2018.