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Questions for Roger Federer? None in English.

May 27, 2011 |  2:05 pm

Photo: Roger Federer. Credit: Susan Mullane / U.S. Presswire. The interview protocol at the four major tennis tournaments has traditionally been this:

A requested player, and most seeded players, gather in an interview match anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or two after a particular match (yeah, that hour or two part can be annoying) and then questions are requested, first in English, second usually the language of the country the major tournament is held in (French Open means French) and then in the native language of the player.

So Friday at the French Open after third-seeded Roger Federer, winner of more major titles (16) than any player in history, settled into his seat in the interview room at Roland Garros after his quite impressive 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over 29th-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and the press conference moderator asked for Federer: "Questions in English."

And there was ... dead silence. Not a one. Not a "How did it feel" or "Are you playing well" or "Are you going to watch that Djokovic-Del Potro match?"

The number of American journalists covering the tournament has dropped significantly the past few years, corresponding to tightening budgets, smaller newspaper staffs and, well, fewer American players who matter at the moment. But, still, not a single question in the world's dominant language for the possibly historically best men's player? Nothing from an ESPN employee (ESPN is televising the French Open) or a Brit or somebody who doesn't speak French? We are a sports society that only cares about Nos. 1 and 2 apparently.

And that's too bad.

The big news of the day didn't involve Federer, to be sure.

The top-seeded woman, Caroline Wozniacki, was upset 6-1, 6-3 by Daniela Hantuchova, a thorough drubbing that has left the women's draw without its top two players (Kim Clijsters lost Thursday). And the highly anticipated third-round matchup between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro had been scheduled last on the main court, then was kicked off to a side court at 7:45 p.m. and finally left unfinished, of course, after the two split sets and it was 9:15 p.m. while angry fans who had waited all day on the main court scrambled to get seats on the smaller court and who either never got seated or were left booing when the match they wanted went unfinished.

So, now, Federer's uneventful win wasn't going to be the biggest story out of the French Open on Friday. But Federer is a proud man and sometimes even a bit prickly when his place in the game is questioned. So to not even be questioned in English Friday? This might offer Federer a small chip to put on his serving shoulder.


Juan Martin del Potro returning to Farmers Classic

Serena Williams withdraws from the French Open

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Roger Federer. Credit: Susan Mullane / U.S. Presswire.