By Rosangel Valenti, TW Contributing Editor
Good morning. The hour has arrived at last - the start of Roland Garros 2008. Today's Schedule of Play can be found here. As usual, you will have daily Crisis Centers for discussing the tennis action. We ask that conversations on these threads remain tennis-related, given the heavy volume of comments received during any big tournament - none so more than a Grand Slam. Later in the day, you can expect to see Pete's thoughts on events so far. Perhaps we will also hear in the comments section from Tribe member mariej, who will be at Roland Garros today.
Men - I suspect that many Tribe members will watch three-time Champion Gustavo Kuerten's match against Paul-Henri Mathieu, third on Court Philippe Chatrier, though if his movement-hampered Monte Carlo showing against Ivan Ljubicic is anything to go by, he's unlikely to win a set. That's not the point, of course - this is Guga's final farewell to his many fans in Paris before retirement. Personally, I'll also be watching Andy Murray's match with former Federer practice partner, the French lefty Jonathan Eysseric, currently ranked 380 in the world. The two have never met. Oh, and Novak Djokovic opens his campaign today, against Denis Gremelmayr. Again, the two have never met.
Women - we'll have our first sight of local hope Alize Cornet, now ranked 20 after her run to the Rome final, against world number 76, Julia Vakulenko. Again, a first career meeting.
In 1979, Bjorn Borg won his fourth Roland Garros title - the only man to achieve this many so far in the Open era. Today's picture shows him in 1979, during the Championship match with Victor Pecci, which he won 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4. Of course, Borg went on to win six Roland Garros titles in all, the last in 1981, winning four straight from 1978 through 1981. As was the case at Wimbledon 2007, Borg's achievements cast a long shadow over this year's event, with the three-time defending Champion, Rafael Nadal, in a position to equal the four-in-a-row record. Due to a bizarre dispute over his being asked to qualify in 1982 (related to his playing commitments on the tour) Borg didn't play again after 1981; he even skipped Roland Garros in 1977 to play World Team Tennis. However, having also been the event's then-youngest male singles Champion, back in 1974 (now bettered by Michael Chang and Mats Wilander), his record in Paris remains towering.
We could be in for a few interruptions to today's play - the latest weather forecast for Paris is predicting light rain both today and tomorrow, shading into heavy showers on Tuesday.
As always, enjoy today's tennis.