ICYMI at French Open: Novak Djokovic and the object of aggression

PARIS -- Win or lose, most tennis players feel a growing amount of emotion on the court as their matches wear on -- emotion that can often lead to uncontrollable anger. That anger, if bottled up for too long, has no choice but to release itself in a fit of fury. And when that happens, hello, Twitter.

Sure, the fiery competitors are sometimes justified by the righteous indignation from a bad line call or distraction from the stands, but for the most part they show their rage when things aren't going their way.

On Friday, Novak Djokovic became the latest player to lose his cool -- as his racket found out during a tense moment in the second set. In the end, it was perhaps a cathartic moment, as he ended up beating No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut in a 3-hour, 48-minute battle to move on to the fourth round of the French Open.

But back to the topic at hand: What about that abuse to your equipment, Novak?

"Trust me, in that moment when I do it, I don't think about how it can help me," Djokovic said afterward in press. "It was a big point, and I managed to come back from being down in the tiebreak, and 6-all, and then he came to the net, I played a great defense backhand down the line, and I had, in the middle of the court, a forehand, and he went on one side.

"If the ball went over it would be a winner, and I hit the top of the net. And in these kind of circumstances, sometimes emotions get, you know, get the worst out of you or the best out of you, whatever you want to call it."

Whatever his justification, Djokovic reminded us that these racket-smashing episodes make for a lot of fun. So let's check out our favorite from this year's French Open so far.

Novak Djokovic: I can't take it anymore!

Ajla Tomljanovic: Grrr!

Denis Shapovalov: I have a gasket, and it's about to blow!

Alexander Zverev: Take that, racket! And thigh!

Marcos Baghdatis: I'm mad! Now I'm sad!


Keys in top form

It's a rivalry that could entertain the masses for years to come if both players continue to build on their current promise. But Friday's first set in the third-round French Open match between 13th seed Madison Keys of the United States and Japan's Naomi Osaka, seeded 21st, didn't live up to that standard. Osaka came out flat and Keys took full advantage, dispatching her 6-1 in 30 minutes.

Osaka, the surprise Indian Wells champion, raised her level in the second set, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to force a tiebreaker in which she went up 4-1, but Keys ultimately prevailed 7-6 (7). Keys is now undefeated in three matches against Osaka over the past two years, but acknowledged the gap likely will continue to narrow: "Even seeing how she raised her level in the second set, she's getting better and better and making smarter decisions."

Clay "grows on me a little bit more every year," said Keys, 23, a finalist at last year's US Open who has advanced to the fourth round here for the second consecutive year.

Osaka, who had been the youngest player left in the draw at age 20, said the match "taught me a lot."

"I wasn't comfortable moving on the clay," she said. "I would make one push and then I'd be tipping over."

Asked whether Friday's cooler conditions could have played a part, Osaka smiled and said, "I wouldn't exactly be the clay-court expert to say that."

-- Bonnie D. Ford


Dzumhur overcoming the odds

If you want something enough, all you need to do is work hard and go for it -- no matter where you are or where in the world you grew up.

That was the message from Bosnia and Herzegovina's Damir Dzumhur following that thrilling five-set defeat to Alexander Zverev in Paris.

During his postmatch press conference at Roland Garros, Dzumhur -- born in Sarajevo one month after the Bosnian War started in 1992 -- was asked what it was like growing up in conflict and how difficult it had been for him to get into tennis.

"My family was [there] the whole war in Sarajevo, four years, under the grenades and everything," Dzumhur said. "I don't remember that period, and it's good for me. But my parents, of course, know how tough it was. But it's not just about that period, but the period after that.

"Everything was destroyed with no good tennis courts at all. I started to practice in high school where [it] was not even as big as a tennis court. So I started there, and all the years after I was working a lot. I was working hard. Not really facilities that I needed, but I'm pretty much sure if you really want something, and if you work hard and you go for it, you can do it anywhere. And I'm probably the example of that because Bosnia and Herzegovina is a really small country, a country without support for athletes.

"I know that for many years, not just tennis, but generally sport is not supported by the country. The federations are not strong enough to support it as well. It was very tough, you know, when you have to go through all that alone with your parents. Also, if we talk about financial [aspect], it wasn't easy for them. They were working their job, and they were giving everything they had for me. So I'm glad I had a chance to go through all that, my parents together with me. And thanks to them today I'm here where I am."

-- Rob Bartlett


And back to the match, Sascha ...

You're the No. 2 seed at the French Open, playing on Court Philippe Chatrier. You're knee-deep in a topsy-turvy five-setter, which could go either way, and your opponent simply won't budge. So, Zverev, your emotions must be a roller-coaster, no?

"Mainly I was thinking what I was going to have for lunch, at times," Zverev said during his press conference following his victory over Dzumhur on Friday.

"I mean, as I said, you try to win each point, you try to win each game. When you're down a match point, you're not thinking, 'Oh, how am I going to turn this match around?' You're trying to win that exact point to be able to continue the match."


Will it be Wozniacki's year?

While several big seeds struggled Friday, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki had no trouble booking her spot in the final 16.

The Australian Open champion cruised past Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier on Court Philip Chatrier with a 6-0, 6-3 triumph that lasted 1 hour, 18 minutes. Wozniacki -- yet to drop a set in this year's championship -- next faces Daria Kasatkina for a place in the quarterfinals.

But more importantly, she even had time to crash Djokovic's press conference following his victory.

"I was disappointed in myself for not asking a better question," she joked in her own presser. "I was just wanting to tell him to hurry up, and he asked me a question and it took me by surprise!"